Fraternity culture at Webster University has been dormant since Fall 2011. Sophomore public relations majors Stu Macki and Darren Lewis have decided try to resuscitate Greek life for male students. The potiential founding fathers hope to create a new fraternity centered on the ideas of philanthropy and brotherhood.
“Darren and I are trying to make this fraternity with more of a service and philanthropy base,” Macki said. “This can make the people that join it feel like they are making a difference in the world.”
Webster’s first fraternity, Delta Upsilon, didn’t continue in fall 2011. Its mission statement said the frat was to “(build) better men, and (better) Webster University and its students.”
Based on four founding principles, Delta Upsilon “placed strong attention on academic success, charitable work in the community and broadening our cultural understanding,” said Jeffrey Royer, a 2010 Webster graduate and past Delta Upsilon member. The fraternity struggled with financial shortcomings and low enrollment.
Royer said without the presence of Greek life, Webster lacks a large piece of the college experience. He believes the option should be available to students, whether they want to be a part of that experience or not.
Lewis, who is excited he and Macki both strive for brothers on Webster’s campus, said having a Greek life on campus gives students development and growth.
“Having a positive foundation like Greek life at a university or college that you are involved in, you feel more certain about your decisions,” Lewis said. “I think that the missing aspect is that men feel uncertain about their involvement as a whole. This frat will bring confidence and assurance to all who are involved, not only on campus, but in their lives with our philanthropy plans.”
Currently, the fraternity is only an interest group with a dozen members. However, Lewis and Macki intend to recruit 30 to 40 brothers. Their main goal, Lewis said, is to scout as many freshmen as possible to keep the organization alive. Macki believes their recruitment is what makes this fraternity different. He said he is already considering how to keep the fraternity alive after he graduates. Lewis said he wants a fraternity with meaning.
“What motivated me to bring a fraternity back to campus was to showcase a group of men that stood for something — intellectual gentleman, to be exact,” Lewis said.
The revamped frat will not have a name until the process is further along. Macki and Lewis are still scouting for a fraternity to affiliate with, which will determine the Greek name. They also have plans to combat the financial issues Delta Upsilon faced.
“We are trying to not make money a factor in what fraternity we choose,” Macki said.
However, Royer, who has a degree in accounting, said it could affect recruitment.
“It is very difficult to recruit new members when the financial burden of joining the organization is high,” Royer said.
The entry fee varies from frat to frat, but fees depend on each member’s philanthropy and the number of brothers. Though the process of choosing a fraternity isn’t complete, the possible entry fee for the fraternity is about $280. The potential founding fathers are in the process of “shopping for fraternities” by getting in contact with their top three fraternity’s representatives.
“We aren’t deciding on one,” Macki says. “It’s like bidding. They have to convince us they’re the best fraternity to come here.”
Royer anticipates other keys for the new fraternity to be successful, citing fun as a particularly crucial ingredient. The moment meetings and events sound like chores, he said, is the moment everything falls apart and interest is lost. The support of the university is critical as well, he said.
Royer said there were several voices of outspoken Student Government Association (SGA) members against the idea of a fraternity.
“The school wanted to ensure the addition of Greek life to campus wouldn’t change the culture of the university. The negative connotation of frat guys was a stigma that we tried shaking, but never fully broke away from,” Royer said. “If the fraternity’s mission is to make the community, the members and the school better, it shouldn’t have to be an uphill battle every step of the process.”