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Pi Kappa Phi to gain national charter

Nov. 4, 2005

by LAUREN BURRIS, reporter

More than a year after members of the national chapter of Pi Kappa Phi came to Baylor to recruit men to start a local chapter, the fraternity will receive its national charter Saturday.

"I'm just relieved because it's been a long journey. I know we're just starting, but now we'll be able to build on a strong foundation," said Dallas junior James Fitzwater, president of Pi Kappa Phi.

The process of gaining a national charter included meeting goals set by the national chapter, such as a certain member total and a minimum grade point average requirement for all members.

The chartering process as a whole is relatively secretive, said Tulsa, Okla., sophomore Ian McCracken. McCracken is the chartering chairman and vice president of Pi Kappa Phi.

What the members of the organization do know is they had to take written and oral examinations Thursday, and there will be a banquet on Saturday. Other than that, McCracken said, part of the excitement about the weekend is the unknown traditions.

"We basically had to come up with all the different programs involved in a fraternity on our own," McCracken said. "We had to make our own traditions for Pi Kappa Phi at Baylor because we've never been on campus before."

He said members from the national chapter of Pi Kappa Phi and current members of the Pi Kappa Phi chapters at Texas Christian University and Northwestern Louisiana State will be on campus this weekend to help the new chapter initiate.

"We feel very supported, and I think it will be very interesting to meet some of the guys who know the history," McCracken said. "They know the tradition and will be able to share that with us."

Fitzwater said he's enjoyed his participation in the organization.

"I've been very proud of what this organization has accomplished," Fitzwater said. "This fraternity, so far, has gone through its own personal tests, and yet we have done nothing but grown stronger in the process."

McCracken and Fitzwater both said they believe Pi Kappa Phi has something valuable to offer Baylor students, as well as men considering joining a fraternity.

"We provide opportunities for brotherhood and leadership," Fitzwater said. "It's to give men of this campus an opportunity to not only serve others, the community and the campus, but to serve each other."

Kevin McCord, coordinator of fraternities, said Pi Kappa Phi is the newest of the 25 fraternities on campus and he added that he thinks fraternities support general campus life in a positive manner.

"Almost every major campus event is very heavily coordinated or run by the Greek organizations," McCord said.

"Those events are very dependent on the support or involvement of the sororities and fraternities," he said.

He said many organizations offer similar objectives and programs, but the things they emphasize help define them.

"All of the organizations participate in similar activities, such as service projects, social events and campus activities," McCord said.

"But the amount of importance they focus on each of those events varies from chapter to chapter and helps give each organization an individual identity," he said.

McCord said while he feels Pi Kappa Phi is still finding its identity, he sees a strong service focus in the organization.

McCracken said one of his favorite things about being part of a new organization has been getting to help organize it from the beginning.

"I've really gotten to put my mark on the fraternity and help shape it into what my personal feelings of a fraternity are," McCracken said.