One SMU fraternity is trying to change the growing national mindset that 21st century fraternities have no place on college campuses.
In an attempt to change the status quo, Lambda Chi Alpha (Lambda) is revising its fraternity mission and implementing broad-sweeping changes to its chapter.
“We are taking a stand for all other fraternities in universities across the nation,” Lambda Chi’s current Vice President Victor Beck said. “Fraternities should and can be a place for young men to develop into mature men without all of the childish and dangerous activities than demean and even traumatize their new members.”
The six incoming Lambda officers presented the impending transformation to their chapter Nov. 17. Notable changes include a zero tolerance policy for both drugs in the fraternity house and hazing, a deeper concentration on Lambda’s core values, a change in focus during freshmen recruitment, and a greater emphasis on personal development, leadership and academics.
“This is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” Beck said. “It’s only until now that we have the depth of members that carry the values that we want to focus on.”
According to Randy West, an SMU alumnus now serving as life coach for Lambda, the re-visioning of the SMU chapter was a collaborative effort from SMU, Lambda Nationals, the Alumni Board and the chapter itself. West was brought in on contract this year by members of the SMU administration to informally speak with fraternities and cast a new vision for Greek Life at SMU.
Jake Bayliss, Lambda’s executive member of external affairs, said their chapter hopes to be a leader in changing public opinions of fraternities and changing what it means to be a part of a fraternity at SMU.
“I think we’re kind of sick of the stereotypical SMU fraternity experience and we think that a fraternity can be a place that develops men,” he said.
Beck said most of the chapter accepted the changes and supported them; however, they have also given members the choice of “opting out,” or leaving the chapter, if they do not agree with the fraternity’s new vision.
“Those members who cannot abide by the values have been asked to opt out,” Beck said. “That’s an important step in moving forward, is to get the guys that are really committed.”
As of Nov. 17, only the current president of Lambda had chosen to “opt out” of the changes, West said. They are unsure of how many members will make the same choice this week.
Beck, Bayliss and West said they are focusing on the larger picture: changing the way fraternities operate locally and nationally.
“We want to remind everyone the benefits of being in a fraternity, the business aspect that comes with it, the preparation it can give you for adulthood,” Beck said. “We want to recommit to those ideas.”