You are on page 1of 6

Houser 1

Darrian Houser
Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1101 T/TH 2pm
November 6, 2014

The Life of a Frat
When it comes to college a lot of students will find themselves with free time on their
hands. Between homework, classes, studying, etc. students often finish with time to spare. They
sit around and do nothing. Weekends also sometimes provide nothing to do. A lot of students in
college like to have fun, especially on the weekend. This being said they go out of their way to
find something to do to keep them occupied. I myself just being a freshmen, have already
experienced that feeling for myself. College is a time to create new experiences for yourself. For
me it was joining a fraternity.
With that said I chose a fraternity to do my ethnography on. This fraternity is known as
Phi Delta Theta or Phi Delt for short. Phi Delt was established in 1848. This was when the first
six members, known as the “Immortal Six”, came together and formed the bond that is Phi Delta
Theta. The six who founded the Fraternity went to Miami (Ohio) University in Oxford, Ohio.
The whole point of the fraternity was to start a group of young men who wanted to make
themselves better. This is said with their saying “Become the greatest version of yourself”. To do
this they established the three pillars of the fraternity. These pillars are friendship, sound
learning, and moral rectitude. With this Phi Delt was put in motion.

Houser 2

This fraternity is known around the nation. It just made its appearance here on the
campus of UNC Charlotte in December of 2013. This made the sixth chapter of Phi Delta Theta
in North Carolina. UNC Charlotte joined a list of schools that includes UNC Chapel Hill, NC
State University, and the very first school to have Phi Delta Theta in North Carolina, Duke
University. Needless to say the chapter here on campus has something to prove. There is only
one thing standing in their way. The group on campus is what’s called a “colony”, which means
they have not been officially recognized by the national board. So they are currently working on
getting their charter to become an official chapter of Phi Delta Theta. After that they will be
nationally recognized and continue on with their growth.
Little do many know, Phi Delta Theta is one of the most historic fraternities in the whole
nation. When it comes to members, fraternities have something called the “Who’s who list”. This
list is just the name of famous or well-known members that were in that specific fraternity. For
Phi Delta Theta, they lead every fraternity in the U.S. With names like Burt Reynolds, Lou
Gehrig, Wes Welker and many more. Phi Delt was also the first fraternity on the moon as Neil
Armstrong was also a part of this fraternity. Phi Delta Theta contains astronauts, NFL hall of
famers, MLB hall of famers, actors, and even astronauts. Yes you could say that Phi Delta Theta
has already created a great name for themselves.
Since this fraternity is very small it was a little easier to observe them in groups. Being a
fraternity they have their own lingo you could say. They use a lot of slang words like “Yo” or

Houser 3

“Fresh”. Other than the occasional slang words, their dialogue amongst themselves is actually
pretty normal. They use full words, correct grammar, and complete sentences. They have
nicknames for one another too. Ryan Minter, a member of the fraternity has been given the name
“Mint”. Another member Justin Witherspoon, is called “Spoon”.
Fraternities have been known to do a lot of things in secrecy or have a lot of rituals. With
this fraternity, everything seems to be done out in the open. The members are very open about
what happens and what they do. As for rituals, it seems like this fraternity doesn’t really have
any specific rituals. I guess the closest to a ritual that the fraternity partakes in is something
called Chapter. For them Chapter is just a meeting every Sunday to talk about fraternity business
and events that are coming up. When asked why there wasn’t really any rituals that took place,
member Johnny Beall responded with “Well we are the new guys on campus. We have not even
been on this campus for a calendar year yet, so we have yet to really develop any rituals.” Beall
then added “We have ideas they just haven’t been put into motion yet because we are still trying
to get some age under our belt.” So right now the fraternity is basically ritual free.
Just talking to Johnny I got this sense of a really laid back guy. So that lead me to believe
that all the guys in the fraternity are “chill”. These guys are also very into being in the library day
in and day out. There is almost never a time that not one brother is in the library. They study all
day and night. Johnny said it was because “Our goal is to have the highest GPA among the
fraternities to let everyone know that we like to have fun, but our grades come first.”
They also do a lot of charity events. They try to raise money for finding the cure for ALS.
This is apparently their philanthropy. They chose this as their philanthropy because one of the
“Famous Phis” is Lou Gehrig who had ALS according to the national page of Phi Delta Theta.
This being said the fraternity is all about fundraisers and different events for ALS. These are

Houser 4

really generous giving up their free time just to raise money for a cure. They have good hearts
and that’s always good for a fraternity.
Another thing that I saw while I was observing them was that they are always there for
each other. One person is always just a phone call away. These guys have a great since of
brotherhood. This could also be seen as very strong friendship, which is one of the three pillars
that the fraternity is built on. They won’t ever let a brother go without something. Whether it be
rides to places or help on homework or studying, these guys will do anything they can to help
their brothers in need. It’s almost like one huge family when you are around them. But also with
families comes fights. Fights are one thing that happen often between these brothers. My guess is
that since they all come from such different backgrounds, it tends to make them see a lot of
things differently. This for any group of people is going to lead to a lot of disagreements that
lead to all kinds of fights, but what family doesn’t fight.
They tend to be a very calm group besides the small disagreements. One looming
problem seems to be planning and financial issues. They are a new organization, therefore this
would lead one to think they would have financial issues. Usually size makes up what kind of
funds they are going to work with, but the problem with them is that there is only forty-three
members, nineteen of them being new members. This means that they often struggle with
different financial things: parties, social events, tailgating, signs. You name it and it’s something
that they need. Since there is little money to work with, criticism often crosses in chapter. The
fraternity itself wants to be able to do more, but financially they can’t afford it.
This leads to the poor planning. There are these things called “brotherhood events”,
which are just a gathering where brothers get together and hangout or have a special event.
Doing these things actually take a lot of planning between the brotherhood chair and the

Houser 5

treasurer. Then conflicts also arise between the two because there are moments where the
treasurer can’t give the brotherhood chair the amount of money they request. Sometimes the
budget just isn’t large enough, so this causes a change in plans and possibly a change in dates.
This sometimes creates a lot of problems for all of the other brothers. Thus showing just how
much one little inconvenience can potentially cause certain disagreements.
The good thing about these guys is they don’t let the small things tear them apart. Yeah
they may fight, but at the end of the day they know they can always depend on each other for any
and everything. “We really want to establish a real family feel in this fraternity. People need
someone that they can rely on in college and that’s what our goal is. To give someone that
shoulder they need to lean on when needed.” Said Johnny when asked about why the guys were
so close. They may not seem like the kind of guys that you would expect to be in a fraternity, but
somehow they seem to make it work.
All in all, it seems like this group of guys are on the right track to being a great fraternity.
They still have their problems, but they can easily be worked out. There are also some
problematic members, but they seem to have a plan for them. I asked Thomas McGuiken, the
president of the fraternity what that plan was exactly? He responded with “We are simply telling
them what needs to happen for them to stay in the fraternity. We are just telling those whom are
problematic that they need to straighten themselves up.” McGuiken then said “Sometimes the
line just has to be drawn. Even if it means stepping on some toes.” This is showing that they can
be very blunt when needed. Then again Phi Delta Theta has never been a fraternity to accept
anything less than great. They are also known for not letting their brothers fall behind. This
shows another one of their mottos “One Man, is No Man”. A very inspirational motto just

Houser 6

showing that Phi Delta Theta is a fraternity who takes brotherhood very seriously, not only on
this campus, but around the whole nation.
Overall it could be said that this fraternity is still a work in progress, but it can be done.
That’s how greatness is made. That’s how fraternities are made. They may fuss and fight, but
they are a group made up of great guys. Just the work that goes into the fraternity itself is
astounding to say the least. The future is very bright for this aspiring fraternity called Phi Delta