Eight years after disaffiliating with its national charter, the off-campus student organization known as Eta Prime has received official recognition from the Kappa Sigma fraternity’s national organization.
Members of Eta Prime began contacting Kappa Sigma nationals in the Fall to begin the process of association with its former charter. The group was granted a provisional status given to new groups that are in the process of establishing their operations last November, according to a Dec. 8 press release. This allows the group to be insured by the national charter of Kappa Sigma and to enjoy the benefits that come along with joining the fraternity that, according to its website, initiates more men annually than any other fraternity nationwide.
Duke’s Eta Prime Chapter of Kappa Sigma officially dissolved in 2003 after incidents of misconduct. The group’s members voted at that time to refer to themselves as Eta Prime, its chapter name, though it is still commonly known on campus as Kappa Sigma. When the fraternity became unrecognized nationally, it lost its membership in the Interfraternity Council, foregoing its campus recognition.
“We are certainly excited to return any chapter and to have our Duke chapter return, which is our second oldest chapter in our organization,” said Chris Kontalonis, director of undergraduate operations for Kappa Sigma’s national organization.
In six to 12 months, the fraternity hopes to become an official chapter of Kappa Sigma, adding current members to the list of over 1,500 Kappa Sigma alumni from Duke.
“We never really made contact with nationals in the past because we were under the impression that there would be all these sanctions and it would be too much work to be worth it,” Kappa Sigma member Christian Ulstrup, a sophomore, said. “But now we have the support of one of the largest and most esteemed national fraternities in the country.”
Despite the group’s reinstated relationship with its former national charter, Kappa Sigma—which is still an independent group and not officially recognized by the University—has no plans in the near future to join Duke’s IFC. Ulstrup said that joining IFC would increase the fraternity’s dues and also force the organization to delay the formal rush process.
“It is really a hassle to become part of the IFC if you read the bylaws and everything and what is involved, and we don’t see it as worth it,” Ulstrup said. “We have been operating very well for the past eight years, almost a decade, without any affiliation with IFC.”
IFC President Erskine Love, a senior, said one of the biggest advantages to being recognized by IFC is that members are able to host official events with Panhellenic sororities as well as with other IFC groups. Both Panhel and IFC have policies that they cannot hold official events with an off-campus group. Love noted that these policies are beginning to be enforced more stringently—posing a potential problem for Kappa Sigma in the future.
“Sure, they can operate however they want without us, but they will not be a Duke University Chapter of Kappa Sigma, they will be a Durham, N.C. Chapter of Kappa Sigma, and they can’t do any official events with campus groups,” Love said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta has warned against joining an organization not recognized by Duke. In 2004, Moneta noted that students who pledge with non-IFC fraternities “will find themselves without the privileges accorded to all recognized groups,” The Chronicle previously reported.
“I still believe that students take great risk when joining and engaging with unrecognized groups,” Moneta wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.
Ulstrup said this attitude by the administration creates a false image of independent groups off-campus.
“There is a misconception of independent fraternities at Duke,” Ulstrup said. “Kappa Sigma has a code of conduct and rules and regulations that we have to follow, so it’s not like we are a rogue fraternity breaking rules left and right and doing everything bad.”
In spite of not being associated with IFC, Kappa Sigma President Sean Kelleher, a senior, said the fraternity is seeing a strong turnout through the rush process and is confident that the organization will continue to have a strong presence among students.
“We had a great turnout this year,” Kelleher said. “We are seeing a really strong excitement and turnout for what a lot of freshmen really want to be a part of.”
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