The University of Massachusetts’ has a new addition to the Greek life scene: Phi Delta Theta. The fraternity. which began recruiting this semester, is seeking founding members who can join 190 existing chapters and 270,000 members, “including recognizable ‘Famous Phis’ such as Neil Armstrong, Lou Gehrig, Benjamin Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Adam Silver and countless more,” according to an email sent to students.
Phi Delta Theta joins over 40 fraternities and sororities at UMass, which boast a collective Greek membership that makes up approximately 8.5 percent of the student population.
“What makes Phi Delt different is the fact that we are starting a brand-new chapter,” Jimmy Pietras, fraternity alumnus and expansion consultant, said. “We’ve seen the culture, we’ve seen the atmosphere and we understand that we can become an organization that raises the bar and sets a new example for what a fraternity can really be on campus.”
Phi Delta Theta’s onboarding process differs from some other organizations. They are using a “365” recruitment model, meaning students can apply to join at any time. This semester’s recruitment season concludes at the end of the spring semester.
“Founding a fraternity is a very unique experience,” Pietras said. “It’s very entrepreneurial and you really have the ability to help our organization and better yourself but leave a lasting impact on campus and leave your mark here at UMass.”
Max Fisher is a sophomore architecture and linguistics and philosophy double major and warden within Phi Delta Theta.
“I thought it was a great organization,” Fisher said. “It’s super inclusive and very diverse, which is something that’s kind of different from the usual fraternity stigma.”
Fisher stressed the importance of community involvement to fraternity members.
“I’m really looking at places like the Amherst Survival Center, Helping Hands and all of these wonderful organizations that are just in our community already, to help benefit them,” Fisher said. “Bringing them to light on campus is the exposure they need to have more contingency with the student body.”
At the national level, Phi Delta Theta is partnered with the Live Like Lou Foundation, which supports research into Lou Gehrig’s disease, commonly called ALS , as well as the children of families affected by the disease. Lou Gehrig was an alumnus of the fraternity.
“As a freshman coming to UMass Amherst, I was very aware of the stereotype around Greek life here and I didn’t really want to participate in an organization that didn’t really have any strong moral values or convictions,” Albert Thomas, a freshman history major, said. “It seemed like it was actually a pretty serious fraternity that has a lot of values that resonated with me — particularly the self-betterment notion.”
According to Pietras, members of Phi Delta Theta embody their motto: “become the greatest version of yourself.”
“Our members really do take out the heart and strive each day to not only better themselves but better each other by pushing each other to be better people than they were the day before, either in the classroom, in the community or just a better person overall,” Pietras said. “You see in media what the social side is, but besides that, you don’t see behind the scenes, like personal, professional development that happens throughout the organization.”
Fisher added that students “looking to be a part of a very inclusive organization that still has the deep-rooted Greek life feel” would find a very supportive environment. “We actually provide service and have an organization that is communicative and inclusive enough that no member really feels that they aren’t a part of the organization.”
“If you’re really focused on being the best person you can be — which, you know, is a little cliche or cringey — if that’s a part of you that really resonates with you, you’ll definitely find people here who understand you and agree with you,” Thomas concluded.
Students interested in learning more about recruitment for Phi Delta Theta can participate in weekly meetings that are open to the general public.
Patrick Nie can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @patrickleinie.