Thursday, January 24, 2008

Penn State Phi Delts Trying to Change the Tide of Times

Phi Delts to rally against 'dry' policy
By Caitlin Cullerot, Daily Collegian

The charterless Penn State chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity will try to regain recognition from its national chapter and change national protocol in June by attempting to "overthrow" its council members at a conference in Arizona.

Alumni of the traditionally dry fraternity, which is located at 240 N. Burrowes Rd., and current students put on alumni status after the charter revocation plan to attend the Biennial General Convention to argue against certain policies including the alcohol-free housing policy.

The Penn State chapter lost its charter in December for violating the alcohol policy, which was approved in 1997, after the fraternity's Province President Roy Cunningham entered the fraternity's house unannounced during a football weekend in October and witnessed alcohol consumption.

"Phi Delta Theta is not a bar," said Jesse Moyer, director of chapter services. "About 80 percent of our members are under 21. We'd essentially be giving 80 percent of our population an excuse to break the law."

The students hope to overthrow the current five members of the national chapter's General Council, which is the governing body of the national fraternity. Members to the board are elected every two years.

Council members include General Council President Rudy Porchivina, who has also served as an alumni club officer and province president; Treasurer Mark Ochsenbein, who has served as a province president and a province faculty adviser; Reporter Scott Mietchen, who served on the council for six years and was re-elected in 2004; and members-at-large Christopher Lapple and Richard Fabritius.

Each chapter is allowed one delegate at the conference, but the students will try to gain support among other chapter delegates, which represent 65 to 75 percent of votes at the convention, according to the fraternity's Web site, phideltatheta.org.

"If we have enough support, we can elect our own members to the General Council, and they can enact an exemption alcohol policy," said Randy Thompson, alumni corporation president of the Penn State chapter.

Porchivina said any fraternity members are welcome to attend the convention.

"They can certainly bring [the issue] to the floor and have that considered," he said.

Kevin Haslam, current active chapter president, said most alcohol-free fraternities have exemption systems in place.

"We want to show [nationals] that we can drink responsibly without big brother looking over our shoulder," Haslam (junior- journalism) said.

Thompson said many alumni will not come to the house on football weekends because of the policy.

"If you have alumni who don't want to return to the house because they can't drink there, then that's probably a sad statement for the alumni," Porchivina said.

Haslam said the policy has hurt recruitment numbers.

"Any time you ban alcohol in a fraternity house... it's going to be a negative selling point," Haslam said. "If we're not drinking, and 50 other fraternities on campus are, then it's going to hurt our recruitment."

Moyer said recruitment numbers have increased "across the board" since the policy was implemented.

"We're a principle-based organization, and if people don't live up to those standards, then, quite frankly, they don't belong in our organization," Moyer said.

Haslam said the fraternity is putting together an extensive document to explain the issue and the problems the fraternity has encountered with the General Council. The document will be e-mailed to other fraternity chapters as well as alumni members.
(C) 2008 Daily Collegian