“Build your own legacy” can be read on the white and blue signs and banners that have sprung up about UC Davis’ campus, with an unfamiliar set of Greek letters: Pi Kappa Phi.
This quarter, Pi Kappa Phi alumni who work for the national organization visited UC Davis to recruit students for the new chapter.
Pi Kappa Phi was established in 1904 under the name Nu Phi, translating to mean “non-fraternity.” The fraternity was an attempt to form a group that focused on leadership and other ideals that were unlike those of the rest of the greek system.
After some failures, the fraternity was renamed and lives on under the name Pi Kappa Phi; it now has 167 chapters and has initiated over 110,000 members.
One of these members, Matthew Osorio, the consultant for the Northeast region of Pi Kappa Phi, has helped to establish chapters at schools such as Pennsylvania State University.
“We are a fraternity, but we want to shatter the stereotypes of a fraternity,” Osorio said in a recent informational meeting.
Pi Kappa Phi was previously established at UC Davis; however, after the brothers strayed from the values, it was shut down in 1984 because Osorio said the guys lost the vision.
Jonathon Baza, a senior communication major, was the first UC Davis student to be contacted and to sign as an official founding father of the UC Davis chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. After he visited a friend in Pi Kappa Phi at CSU Long Beach, he was interested in the fraternity and wanted to be a part of reestablishment at UC Davis.
“Pi Kappa Phi didn’t have the greatest reputation when they left here in 1984 and I would love to be able to [erase] that at UC Davis,” Baza said. “With the individuals we have here, we’re going to make sure that Pi Kappa Phi starts now and stays here forever.”
Pi Kappa Phi seeks out very specific types of people to advocate its ideals. The national members referred to the acronym men of CLASS, or Character, Leadership, Achievement, Scholarship and Service, to portray the various expectations of a member.
First is character, referring to an individual with integrity and therefore one against hazing new members, one of the things that the previous UC Davis chapter lost sight of, Osorio said.
Second is leadership, one of the biggest focuses that Pi Kappa Phi has. Albert Lam, a senior environmental science and management major, said that the leadership emphasis was a large part of why he chose to join.
“I want to be a better leader because I am leaving UC Davis and you just have to go out there and use what you learn,” Lam said.
Baza sees this, and the idea of guiding other members, as a contributing factor of why he likes the aspect of being a part of Pi Kappa Phi, after the experience he has had with his mentor at the law firm where he works.
“I want to be able to give back to other gentlemen here in the same way that I have been able to receive from my mentor,” Baza said. “I would love to see a great group of guys pass on wisdom to future generations that follow in our footsteps.”
Following leadership comes achievement. Adam Roose, the consultant for the Pacific Northwest region of Pi Kappa Phi, described how members of the fraternity are expected to strive to achieve.
“When you join, [the others] are going to push you to achieve,” Roose said in the informational meeting. “It’s great to be in a brotherhood that will push you to better than yourself.”
Another trait that is sought for in a new member is scholarship, ensuring that while these students are leaders, achievers and of good character, they must also retain good grades to set an example for others within the fraternity and on campus.
Lastly, Pi Kappa Phi members are expected to immerse themselves in service. Pi Kappa Phi is unique because it founded its own philanthropy, Push America, and its members continue to run and operate it.
Push America helps disabled children by holding events that encourage them to be the best they can be. In addition, a bike ride across America is held, called the “Journey of Hope” which helps to raise money for the disabled.
But above all of these qualities, the current 20 UC Davis students who are signed on look forward to being a part of starting something new and creating a fraternity from scratch.
“The opportunity to become a founding father is more extraordinary than just becoming a member of something that has already been established. You are actually building something that is left behind,” Baza said.
“It’s like playdough,” Lam said. “We get to morph what we want to do.”
Currently, the chapter is still in its beginning stages, recruiting enough members to be considered competitive with other fraternities on campus. Eventually, elections for officers will be held, followed by writing the constitution and establishing a budget.
It is also a hope that within a couple of years, a Pi Kappa Phi house is established in UC Davis as well. While there is a lot of work ahead, Baza shows optimism in through the entire process.
“If we have a good set of great guys, and we all have the same cohesive vision, anything can happen,” Baza said. “Within the next couple of weeks, it will be up to us to make Pi Kappa Phi a reality.”
Those interested in joining Pi Kappa Phi can visit the table at the UC Davis Silo on Wednesday and Thursday and at the Memorial Union on Friday. For more information, e-mail Roose at email@example.com.
DEVON BOHART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.