The outcast Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) kicked off an aggressive – and tongue-in-cheek – rush campaign last week while the fraternity's officials and university administrators began to hammer out plans to return the group to favor.
While PIKE will remain ineligible for official CSU recognition until 2012, many of the other seven Greek houses that were suspended or put on probation for alleged alcohol violations last year will have clean slates by fall, said Linda Kuk, vice president of Student Affairs, who doled out the punishments.
For starters, PIKE should "abide by the rules and regulations of the university," Kuk said. "Obviously that would make the biggest difference."
But in this sensitive time, PIKE is leading its early recruitment drive with crimson-and-gold posters taped up all over campus, boasting the slogan: "We're the ones they warned you about!"
Pi Kappa Alpha officials last week said the edgy slogan pokes fun at a warning sticker the Greek Life office placed in an official recruitment brochure. The white sticker, plastered over the description of the PIKE house, reads that any association with the fraternity "is done at your own risk!"
"A lot of people don't know we're a fraternity," said Ben Funderburk, PIKE rush co-chairman. "Some people definitely have a bad image of who we are. … We're just a good group of guys trying to do something."
He said PIKE members have remained active in the community and continue to spread community spirit and good will.
Pi Kappa Alpha members began rushing early because they are not part of CSU Greek Life, and are not bound by the university's standards. The rest of the Greeks are allowed to begin rush on Monday, following an on-campus open forum today.
Though the fraternity is technically unrelated to the Greek Life community, their poster slogan has created some tension.
"I don't want to fuel the fire," Greek Life Program Coordinator Sonja Jensen said. "As long as they're putting (the posters) in free speech zones, we're not going to impede their privilege."
Andy Frohardt, a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity who works at the Greek Life office, tore down some of the posters that were pasted on pillars outside the Lory Student Center last week.
Posting of any material is not allowed in that area, LSC officials said, unlike other parts of campus where the First Amendment would protect such posters.
"The PIKE situation is interesting," Frohardt said. "I feel like they have great members of the chapter, but there are some members that ruin things for the rest."
The slogan on the PIKE posters, he said, might just attract more trouble.
"You recruit based on your image," Frohardt said. "That's the image they want to portray … so people they're going to recruit, I guess, are going to be those kinds of people."
Funderburk and fellow co-chair John Linton acknowledged that the new slogan might appeal to a rebellious crowd. But they said the overall idea was to attract as many applicants as possible and save the selectivity for later in the process.
The two said they are looking for productive members, and that despite its loss of standing in the university, they remain involved in charity events and in the community.
They said PIKE had a large showing at the Cans Around the Oval event and was the only fraternity to provide a float for the Homecoming Parade.
The troubled relationship between PIKE and the university crumbled after administrators learned that at least eight fraternities and sororities – including PIKE – took part in "rise and ralph" parties Sept. 1. One of these parties, where students begin drinking at the break of dawn before class, was reportedly held at a PIKE annex house before police shut it down.
Administrators said the partiers then moved to the PIKE house on Laurel Street.
PIKE officials deny the allegations. However, the news caught national attention and showered more bad press on the university. During the fall 2004 rush, sophomore Samantha Spady died in a fraternity house after consuming a large amount of alcohol, prompting the university to issue a no-alcohol policy for Greek property.
Administrators handed down the harsh punishment in light of other policy violations PIKE had been accused of, including being drunk, stoned and rowdy on CSU-contracted buses and forcing police to shut down several house parties in August.