The CSU colony of Alpha Kappa Lambda says larger fraternities often overshadow them. But AKL, with only five active members and three pledges, says their strength lies not in numbers, but in character.
“We’re men of character. That’s what we like to be described as,” said Sean Kelley, a junior construction management major and AKL member. “That is what I take pride in myself for.”
Greek Life has long been subject to stereotypes due to its portrayal in movies and the media. Its image has also been affected by local events such as the suspension of Sigma Alpha Epsilon this year and the alcohol-related death of Sam Spady in the Sigma Pi fraternity house in 2004.
Kelley says it is difficult to deal with the negative image.
“(The stereotype) didn’t come from out of the blue, but it is hard to get rid of it. (People) don’t even let you explain what you’re about,” he said.
This image, Kelley said, is especially detrimental to smaller, growing fraternities like AKL.
Sean Reed, a sophomore English major and candidate for fraternity president, says fraternities are constantly battling a negative image, despite their efforts to offer something different.
“When bad stuff happens to any fraternity, it hurts all the fraternities on campus,” Reed said.
Both Reed and Kelley said they believed the stereotype before deciding to join AKL.
“My friend was encouraging everyone in our hall to go,” Reed said. “I met some of the guys (from AKL) and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t this alcohol-fueled event.”
“I said I was never going to join a fraternity,” Kelley added.
Kelley said while there “will always be people like that in fraternities,” AKL is not all about partying.
“If all you want to do is drink your life away, a fraternity is not the best place to be,” Kelley said. “We have the most rules and regulations.”
AKL touts the five ideals on which they were established: Judeo-Christian principles, leadership, scholarship, loyalty and self-support.
“It gives me structure in my life,” said Cody Pipkin, a junior construction management major and AKL pledge. “They make you focus on the right things.”
While Christian principles are one ideal, the fraternity is not specifically for Christians, Reed said.
“We allow people of all religions to join,” he said. “Basically, you find your own code of morality and you follow it.”
Due to the number of members, AKL is considered a colony, meaning they are
recognized as a fraternity, but they do not have the same rights as a chapter.
Their small numbers often makes it more difficult to recruit new members.
“It’s a matter of getting our names out,” Reed said. “Because (larger fraternities) have more money, they have better means for recruitment.”
Some attribute the recruiting problem to the way the Inter-fraternal Council sets up rush week.
“A lot of the guys in smaller fraternities think that they only care about the bigger fraternities on campus,” Reed said. “The way they set things up seems to benefit bigger fraternities.”
Still, AKL prefers “quality over quantity” when it comes to recruiting, Kelley said.
“We’re trying to get chartered, but we aren’t just about the numbers,” said Todd Mistr, a sophomore health and exercise promotion major and AKL pledge. “When I joined, the guys were more focused on me.”
Reed said while AKL’s size hurts them when it comes to recruiting, it also makes them unique.
“We are a very close knit group of people,” he said. “We’re a tighter group than what I’ve seen in other houses.”
Staff writer Rebecca Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.