Alpha Tau Omega returns to campus

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SHSU will soon have a new fraternity on campus. Alpha Tau Omega will become the 12th social fraternity on Nov. 17, when it will re-establish itself at the “colonization ceremony.” “Colony status is sort of like a trial period, in essence. It’s a process where we write bi-laws and establish a constitution for the group,” Chris Owens, director of expansion for ATO, said. “We will write different programs, like our academic program and our community service and philanthropy programs. Basically, we’re building the infrastructure of the chapter.”According to Owens, colonization takes about nine to 18 months, after which the group will submit a petition to the board of directors of the national fraternity to be approved.”We expect the process to be completed anywhere between nine months and a year,” Owens said. “There is no pledge-ship when you start up a chapter, so the guys will, next Saturday, be ATOs, technically.”The SHSU Zeta Mu chapter was closed in 1997 due to lack of “motivation and numbers,” Owens said.”When we came back on and recruited initially in ’95, we went about it in a similar process to what we are now; however, a lot of the guys that we tookI would say a lot of them were focused on what ATO stood for, they were the ‘ideal ATO,’ if you will,” Owens said. “A lot of them were older, so throughout the process of the colony period, a lot of them graduated, a lot of them transferred, so we were left with very few guys coming back in ’97.”Because of the lack of interest, a “mutual decision” was made between the national fraternity, the board of trustees and the chapter itself to “go ahead and close up shop and come back in a few years and do it the right way, the way they’re supposed to be done,” Owens said.”When we left campus before, we had an agreement in writing from the university stating that ATO would be welcomed back in the future and the time that we worked out with the university was this fallso fall 2001,” Owens said. The national fraternity also decided to bring ATO back to the campus because of the active alumni association, who have “already donated quite a sum of money to the ATO foundation for this group to use,” according to Owens. “We thought the time was right to bring them back. Now with all these resources we have to draw upon, the alumni association is as active as ever,” he said. “They have just donated this money for this group to use, so why not come in and utilize these resources now, while we have the opportunity.”After coming across some “red tape” by the university, the national fraternity originally had decided to hold off bringing the fraternity back for a couple more semesters, according to Owens.”There were some people who were not interested in bringing another fraternity on in the present time,” Owens said. “And then we received a call from (Interfraternity Council) President Trent Hepler, saying that he brought it up in an IFC meeting, and ATO was more than welcome to come and start recruiting on campus.” ATO also decided to come back to SHSU because it is a “quality institution” and believes that both the fraternity and the university will benefit from the return, according to Owens.”There are young men here that are looking for an opportunity to be involved in something bigger than themselves and perhaps something, an organization, that is not currently on campus,” he said. “They haven’t really found that on campus, so they’re glad that they’ve been given the opportunity to start a new fraternity and really do things the way they believe a fraternity should be done.”One difference between ATO and many fraternities on campus is ATO’s substance-free policy. “There’s no question about whether or not alcohol will be at our events. Of course we won’t be recruiting with alcohol, and there will be no recruitment events whatsoever with alcohol,” Owens said. “A lot of these guys have already expressed to me their discontent with what they’ve heard about the fraternity system, which makes me feel really good,” he said. “It makes me believe that these guys want to do things the right waythat they want to stand for what a fraternity is meant to stand for, and that is increasing yourself as a man and being a part of a brotherhood that is there to help strengthen you and encourage you, while serving the university and the community.”An added benefit to the alcohol-free policy is a 35 percent discount on the national liability insurance, which approximately 35 new chapters are taking advantage of. All fraternities are required to carry liability insurance for undergraduate members. In 1998, the national fraternity decided that all new groups should be substance-free, Owens said”Essentially everything boils down to recruiting and the quality of guys that you’re recruiting,” he said. “I make sure everyone knows from the very beginningone of the first things I tell them is that the group is substance free and ask for some feedback and how they feel about that. So far, of the approximate 25 guys that have signed on to be a part of the group, all of them are in favor of the substance free (policy).”While recruiting, which can take place outside of IFC rush during colonization, ATO is initially looking for men with at least a 3.0 GPA, Owens said.”That doesn’t mean that we’re not taking guys with a GPA below 3.0we are, in fact,” Owens said. “Guys who are showing interest in ATO, some of these guys that I’ve been talking to, have 2.4 or 2.5s (GPAs) and based on their leadership potential and what they can contribute to the group, we open the doors up to those guys.”According to Owens, the quality of the guys they are recruiting differentiates them from other fraternities.”I have met a whole lot of guys on campus who are in other fraternities. I’ve met a lot of leaders in the fraternity community,” Owens said. “I do believe that the quality of these (ATO) guys and their academic standards that they have already set for themselves, their desire to want to be a part of a fraternity that stands for what fraternity was meant to stand for, I think that’s what’s going to separate this group from the other groups that are currently on campus.”According to Owens, the goal of ATO is to colonize with 25 recruits on Nov. 17.”Right now, we’re sitting right at that numberand certainly the more the merrier,” he said. “And our goal is to charter in perhaps a year from now with between 40 and 50 (recruits).”For more information, call the ATO National Headquarters at (317) 684-1865, ext. 137; visit the Web site www.ato.org; or e-mail [email protected]