About 25 men at the University of Richmond are preparing to reestablish the Omicron chapter of Theta Chi, a fraternity banned from campus in 1996.
"By the very beginning of next semester the university is ready to recognize us as a colony assuming we get the stated number of guys," said junior Ryan Dickerson, vice president of the Theta Chi interest group. "We were hoping to get it done a little later this semester."
About 30 people are needed to officially reestablish the chapter, and they currently have about 25 or 26 potential members, Dickerson said.
Junior Robert Lee, president of the Theta Chi interest group, said around this time last year during a football tailgate he had spoken with alumni of the fraternity's Omicron chapter at Richmond. After talking with them, he joined another group of students who were trying to reestablish an inactive fraternity on campus, he said.
"When I got to Richmond, I wasn't really interested in joining a fraternity," Lee said. "Toward the beginning of my sophomore year, I thought it would be a good thing, especially when I heard that bringing back a chapter was a big accomplishment. I saw it as a goal or something to strive for."
The Omicron chapter of the fraternity had its charter revoked by the Grand Chapter of Theta Chi in 1996, according to a Collegian article published at the time, because of "consistently low chapter membership and continued failure of the chapter to reconcile past debts with the Grand Chapter..."
Lee said that he had heard from alumni members that they had been banned after repeated university warnings about member conduct.
Lee heard the fraternity had been on all three probations: social, academic and lodge, he said.
While the work has been tough, Lee said it was easier to reestablish an inactive chapter than to bring a completely new fraternity to campus.
"Theta Chi has been on Richmond's campus since 1915," he said. "There's a lodge here. There's a lot of alumni base."
The university sets a 2.35 GPA minimum for men interested in joining a fraternity.
Dickerson said Theta Chi would require a 2.75 GPA from men wishing to rush next spring.
The fraternity's headquarters set high standards for interest groups like theirs, Dickerson said.
"They generally like to have every member involved in a [fraternity] committee," he said. "Every member has to be involved in at least one other campus organization. They want Theta Chi to have the highest kind of GPA out of the fraternities on campus."
Christopher Zaylah, a junior, soon hopes to become a member too. He said he's part of the group's brotherhood committee, which helps plan small fellowship events, engages other fraternity members, and bolsters Theta Chi recruiting.
Zaylah said he was part of a group of four or five sophomores who first thought of reestablishing the fraternity. "They approached me, and asked, 'Do you want to do this with us?'," he said. "All my life I wasn't really into the whole frat thing. But I felt like if I wanted to do something like that, I would start it with these five guys."
Theta Chi plans to use its lodge for homecoming next month in a tailgating reunion event for alumni, Dickerson said. The group made preliminary plans to begin philanthropic work in a meeting last week with Alison Bartel Keller, director of Greek Life. The fraternity wants to pursue work with cancer patients, Dickerson said.
Navid Abbaei, a freshman from Baltimore, Md., said he attended a Theta Chi interest meeting and was interested in joining.
"I had looked into a couple of fraternities and I had liked all of them, but these guys I just loved immediately," he said. "It's a broad group of guys. You can tell they have a strong bond with each other. And when you're accepted they have a strong bond with you too."
Contact staff writer Keon Monroe at firstname.lastname@example.org