OWU Greek Organizations Serve the Delaware Community

By Lauren Kocsis

Transcript Correspondent

Ohio Wesleyan’s greek members impacted the lives of a mother and her eight children with their service this year in the Delaware community.

The fraternities and sororities served the Delaware community in a new way this year. In the past, greek organization members came together on one day during the semester and did a service project. This year, the service was spread throughout the semester and called Greek Season of Service.

“I wanted to do more service than one day a semester,” said senior Kate Wallrabenstein, greek service coordinator. “This way it was also more flexible because everyone got to pick service opportunities that worked best with their schedule.”

Greek life service initiatives changed from environmental service projects in the past, such as planting trees and picking up trash around Delaware, to members engaging with people in the community, according to Wallrabenstein.

“This changed our goals from bettering the community aesthetically to helping the people within it,” Wallrabenstein said.

Greek Season of Service took place at the Common Ground Free Store in Delaware. Common Ground, 193 E. Central Ave., is a non-profit organization that provides essentials such clothing, shoes, diapers and toiletries to the shoppers at no cost. The staff also prepares a hot meal for their shoppers to enjoy at the store.

Greek members signed up for different dates to serve, and 10 to 15 members attended each event. Greek members sorted donated clothes, served food and assisted in running the store while families shopped and dined.

“We receive a lot of donations, which is a good thing,” said Jill Ignaszewski, Common Ground volunteer manager. “The sorority and fraternity volunteers from OWU were a tremendous help with sorting through those, as well as helping where needed and being a smiling face to talk to shoppers.”

Common Ground is an important service for many families. Isabel Baker is the mother of eight children all under the age of 15. She and her husband both work full-time, but struggle to maintain financial stability.

“I am so grateful for this store,” Baker said. “Common Ground helps take some of the burden off so we can use our income to pay for food, bills and rent. It really helps not having to buy as many clothes for eight kids.”

Delaware County is usually regarded as a wealthy county, but there are many families and individuals who live in poverty, according to Ignaszewski. An average of 50 to 75 families served each day the store is open, which is four days a week.

Many of these people are working hard, but there is still not enough income to make ends meet, according to its website.

3 fraternities in 4 years: just a blip in the radar?

In 2015, 133 fraternities and sororities were suspended or closed nationally. But at small liberal arts school Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), it was just the beginning of a four-year span that could change Greek life at the school forever.

In 2015, Sigma Chi was closed. In 2016, Phi Kappa Psi was suspended. Most recently, in 2018, Phi Delta Theta was suspended. That brings the total number of fraternities on campus to five.

Fraternities have left Ohio Wesleyan before, but not at this rate. The last time OWU Greek life saw events like this was 1983, when Beta Theta Pi was expelled, and Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon put on probation for 10 years. The result of that news? A demonstration by nearly 300 students that included four arrests, broken windows and extensive damage to the Beta house.

But is this stretch just a “bump in the road” for fraternities at OWU, or a trend that may continue?

While the reasoning for these decisions is different for each fraternity, the present statistic remains clear: three fraternities have been closed or suspended in the past four years.

Immediate reactions to this statistic have been mixed around Fraternity Hill and around campus. Some instinctively resort to blame, others understanding, but a sense of sadness is the one emotion that wraps around the hill. This includes senior and President of Sigma Phi Epsilon Austen Kimbro:

“It is extremely sad and concerning that three fraternities have been kicked off of campus over my four years here…and that is a very terrifying thing to try and conceptualize,” Kimbro said.

Three former Phi Kappa Psi members, who were granted anonymity, think this statistic is absurd, considering some of the “justifications” used in closing/suspending these fraternities:

“I think it’s completely outrageous, that something like that’s happened in such a short period of time, especially when some of them were unjustified,” one former member said. “Like Sigma Chi, when they got kicked off had no reason other than speculation. There have been circumstances with the other two fraternities, but I just think they should’ve been looked at from a different perspective.”

The relationship between the administration and fraternities has been sensitive considering these instances. The feeling that President Rock Jones and the rest of the administration don’t believe in Greek life has been circulating students, even though Jones has publicly stated the support of Greek life by the university.

“It is important for everyone to know that Ohio Wesleyan values the Greek community and the individuals who contribute to it,” Jones said in an email sent after the Phi Delta Theta announcement.

Some students, however, don’t believe it or haven’t seen enough to prove otherwise. Junior and Phi Gamma Delta President Eli Rajotte thinks the desire to believe it is there, but still needing evidence.

“I feel like I’m at the point where I’ll believe it when I see it,” Rajotte said.

Rajotte’s fraternity brother AJ Outcalt, a senior, thinks there is that belief and support from the administration.

“Without them or [Director of Clubs and Fraternity & Sorority Life Dana Behum] it would be in a lot worse situation,” Outcalt said.

Fraternities also feel that the university doesn’t focus enough on punishing the individual, rather than the organization. Senior and Delta Tau Delta member John Bonus thinks this is something the school could take a different approach with, although he understands the wholeness aspect of a Greek organization.

“I understand it’s a mutually selective program: we give bids out, those guys choose to accept those bids, and we all have the same values and go through the same processes, so in a way I understand the organization is whole and accepts some responsibility,” Bonus said. “But when only a few members get in trouble for something, it seems pretty unfair to punish the entire organization, especially when they’re building something so positive.”

“The sad part is that, the organizations that have been kicked off had some very good men, who do the right things, but it is unfortunate that some of their brothers made poor choices which ultimately led to the removal of the fraternities,” Kimbro said.

These instances have led fraternities to feel targeted, as if they’re “walking on eggshells.” The bigger picture is the increased presence of University Public Safety on Fraternity Hill that leads to students being upset, says Delta Tau Delta member Andrew Woods.

“It’s more of Public Safety taking the role of ‘almost police officers’ and investigating and actively searching out things, shining flashlights at our house during weekends just to try to see if people are inside, doing random walk throughs of our house and letting themselves in without telling anybody and doing ‘spot inspections’ whenever they feel like,” Woods said. “So those are all things that contribute to fraternity members being very targeted and worried that they’re going to get evicted from their house any day.”

But this article brings you back the question, again with mixed answers is this stretch just a “bump in the road” for fraternities at OWU, or a trend that may continue?

“Although three Greek life organizations have been kicked off, I do believe that this is just a bump in the road.” Kimbro said. “It is very clear that the way Greek life is operating is changing, and to survive we must adapt. After the suspensions are up, I fully believe that Greek life will expand and flourish again.”

“I hope it is just a bump in the road but honestly it’s hard to not look at it and see a trend,” Bonus said. “Obviously, we have some great people in the administration looking out for us but I also think there are many who see Greek life as a liability.”

“I absolutely think it’s a bump in the road.” Rajotte said. “It’s really common, prior to getting kicked off, that it’s a group of people that hold their name, their Greek organization’s name, but aren’t fully inline with the values they instill, and that can draw more downsides toward you. I really truly hope with the most recent suspension that that’s the end of it.”

DG and Sig Ep dribble to victory

By Alanna Henderson, Managing Editor

Fraternity and sorority teams took it to the hoop for Phi Delta Theta’s (Phi Delt) annual spring basketball tournament.

Phi Delt held its 3v3 basketball tournament April 8 in the fraternity’s backyard court.

Delta Gamma (DG) and Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) came out victorious and were each awarded $150 that went toward their own philanthropies.

Typically, winners receive a physical trophy, but Phi Delt’s chapter advisory board donated money to encourage other fraternities and sororities to compete. The tournament was divided into two brackets—one for fraternities and the other for sororities.

“It was a great win … but the money to our own philanthropy made the win even better because it wasn’t about us any more, it was about Service for Sight,” DG team player Lisa Zeller said.

Around 50 Greek community members came out to enjoy the sunshine and cheer for their teams and almost all Greek organizations donated or participated.

Senior Phi Delt member and philanthropy chair Lucas Janowicz planned the tournament for the rst time.

“The most rewarding part of putting an event like this together is seeing it come to fruition, and seeing members of the Greek community supporting each other and supporting a terri c cause,” Janowicz said.

The brothers host a spelling bee competition in the fall semester and the basketball tournament in the spring semester. Several brothers of Phi Delt volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America on a weekly basis and have for years, but the chapter’s philanthropy events serve the ALS Association.

OWU Phi Delt members are in the works of planning a 5k run in Delaware to help get the community more involved and partner with the Phi Delt members from Otterbein University.

“Being a retired philanthropy chair, I understand the hard work there is put into events like this, so I’m always one of the rst people to sign up,” Phoebe Bush, player for Delta Delta Delta, said. “I thought [Phi Delt] had a great event.”

To learn more about this international fraternity, visit https://www.phideltatheta. org.

Kappa Karaoke invites organizations to sing for charity

By Orion Wright, Transcript Correspondent

Ohio Wesleyan University dents will soon have an opportunity to sing, dance and raise money for children’s literacy all at once.

On April 10, the Rho Deuteron chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma will host Kappa Karaoke. Teams representing Greek-letter organizations, Small Living Units and other clubs will compete in song and dance while raising money for Reading is Fundamental. There is a $5 fee for those who don’t want to participate but still want to watch the show.

“Kappa Karaoke is Kappa’s spring philanthropy to raise money for our national philanthropy Reading is Fundamental,” KKG philanthropy chair Alix Templeman said. “Those who perform get judged by a judging panel and whoever wins gets bragging rights.”

While the final scores come down to the opinions of the judges, “audience reaction and creativity are definitely taken into account,” Templeman said.

Kappa Karaoke has been an ongoing tradition for more than 10 years, with a different theme every year.

Teams are encouraged to choose songs which follow the theme and change the lyrics of their songs to reflect the spirit of the philanthropy, said Templeman.

When the theme was Boy Bands, “. . . it was really awesome. Theta did a performance of NSYNC vs Backstreet Boys.”

Reading is Fundamental champions children’s literacy through “meaningful research, quality content and equal access to impact all kids with the power of reading,” having distributed more than 412 million books to 40 million children nation-wide, according to its website. RIF encourages those whose lives have been affected by its programs to share their stories.

Many teams are already preparing for the event.

“[Our team has] done it every year. We’re still narrowing down our song but the list is all throwbacks that everyone knows and can sing when it comes on,” OWU senior Kevin Rossi said. “Dancing is a given, we might have some props like we did last year. Either way, we’re probably going to win it and it’s going to be fun regardless.”

KKG’s national partnership with RIF was made by Ann Truesdell, once a chapter president of Rho Deuteron, Templeman said. They have maintained a partnership since to further the cause of children’s literacy.

Thetas win gold at DZ dodgeball

By Sara Hollabaugh, Online Editor

The OWU community came together to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.

The Delta Zeta (DZ) sorority hosted a turtle-filled dodgeball tournament on Sunday, April 2.

Organized by DZ’s Vice President of Philanthropy, Katie Kuckelheim, the dodgeball tournament supported the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

“Since 1954, speech and hearing has been Delta Zeta’s national philanthropy and since 2006 Delta Zeta, has been partners with the Starkey Hearing Foundation,” Kuckelheim said. “Starkey Hearing Foundation gives hearing aids to those all over the world.”

Kuckelheim said Delta Zeta has participated in a five year ve million dollar campaign to benefit the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

At the dodgeball tournament, held in Branch Rickey, greek teams and sports teams went against each other in a double-elimination-type bracket.

In the final stages of the tournament, Delta Gamma (DG) went against Chi Phi for third place, with Delta Gamma taking the trophy and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) went against Kappa Alpha Theta (Theta) for rst and second.

After a close match, Theta won gold.

Senior and team captain, Lydia Hall, played in her third DZ Dodgeball tournament.

“We played by the traditional dodgeball rules with an added twist. Throughout the week we collected rubber turtles from members of Delta Zeta,” Hall said. “During each game we could use 3 turtles to bring a player who was out back into the game.”

Hall said she loved the addition of the turtles because it not only helped teams advance but was a fun way for students to get excited for the event throughout the prior week.

“Philanthropy events are always fun but most importantly they are an excellent way to raise awareness,” Hall said. “It was really great to see other organizations on campus be involved and excited about the event. It was a chance for all of us to be together, support our Greek friends, and engage in some friendly competition.”

Kuckelheim said DZ does not yet know exactly how much they raised for the event.

For more info on Starkey, go to their website: https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/.

OWU closes Phi Kappa Psi fraternity

Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house located on Williams Drive. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
         Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house located on Williams Drive. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.

Transcript Staff

As of April 13, Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi) fraternity no longer has a chapter on Ohio Wesleyan’s campus, according to Kurt Holmes, interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

“Following a thorough investigation and hearing, the Student Conduct Board has ruled that Ohio Wesleyan’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter violated significant university rules, and after a careful consideration of these violations and the chapter’s conduct history, we have notified Phi Kappa Psi members that the chapter is being closed,” Holmes said in an April 13 email to the OWU community.   

Members of Phi Psi will remain in their house until the end of the spring semester, but are working with residential life to coordinate housing for next semester.

Earlier this year, a new pledge of the fraternity, freshman Luke Gabbert was found dead in the Delaware run, a creek close to campus.

Holmes said the review [by the conduct board] on a specific charge is only the current [Gabbert] case. “We do take recent history into account.” He also said a response from the fraternity’s nationals is anticipated, but  has not been received.

President Rock Jones said, “We set high expectations for our campus community, including student organizations. It is our responsibility to hold organizations accountable when they fail to meet expectations, including the conduct guidelines spelled out in our Student Handbook.”

Susie Long, the interim director of Greek Life, said she currently has nothing to add to the statement Holmes made.

Doug Dodridge, president of the fraternity, declined to comment.

Phi Psi can either appeal the ruling or, according to Chief Communications Officer Will Kopp, request to be reinstated on campus. The request can be filed no sooner than fall of 2020.

On Nov. 11, 2015, Sigma Chi fraternity also was disbanded. But in his email announcement, Holmes said the university remains supportive of Greek Life on OWU’s campus for its positive development of leadership skills, philanthropic efforts as well as its significant alumni support.

The Ohio Alpha chapter of Phi Psi was founded at OWU in 1861.  

*This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Vigils held in remembrance of Luke Gabbert

Transcript Staff

Luke will never be forgotten.

This was said by Carson Miller, an old friend of Luke Gabbert’s, as well as several others in the wake of his body being found just off of Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus late Saturday morning.

There are certain things that bring the OWU community together and one of those things is tragedy. On the night of Gabbert’s death, students gathered on The Hill for a vigil in his memory.

Photo by Olivia Lease.
Photo by Olivia Lease.

Delta Delta Delta sorority member senior Megan Ryan put it out to students soon after hearing the news.  As word spread quickly over 300 students gathered to grieve with the community they all share.

Gabbert was a soccer player, a pledge of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity (Phi Psi) and a member of Athletes in Action. All of these communities he touched were present at the vigil.  Students braved the cold to honor his memory.

Students and members of the OWU community had the opportunity to light a candle and write a prayer on white paper bags that were lined around The Hill. They were able to remember Luke and the things he loved.

Gabbert’s neighbor Julie Feasel said, “He was always smiling and just last Sunday I saw him leaving his house with a big smile on his face.”

Students were seen comforting each other holding hands, giving hugs, and consoling emotions with comforting words.  At one point everyone was circled all the way around the Hill holding hands in a moment of silence for the deceased.

At the end of the vigil the attendees walked around the circle on the hill to look at the prayers and messages people wrote for Luke.  Messages read “Miss you roomie” and “Rest in Peace Luke.”

Director of Mission, Chad Johns, Director of Greek Life, Susie Long, and the President of Phi Psi Doug Dodridge all spoke to the students in attendance, comforting them and thanked everyone for coming. 

Photo courtesy of Syed Raza.
Photo courtesy of Syed Raza.

Associate Chaplain Lisa Ho said, “The vigil was a beautiful illustration of all that is good about the OWU community. It was the strength of community coming together in the midst of tragedy to honor a young life lived well.”

“We only had four lighters, not realizing that we were going to light 315 candles,” said Ryan. “Four people showed up together, 10 people showed up together, entire sororities and fraternities showed up together, sports teams gathered, and then just like that, almost 400 people were gathered together, crying, holding hands, and being there for each other.”

Ryan said she hopes to make a collection of the bags and give them to the Gabbert family. “Luke truly touched so many lives,” she added.

Photo courtesy of Marco Ventresco.
Photo courtesy of Marco Ventresca.

A memorial for Gabbert was also held at Pioneer Field at his high school on Saturday, Feb. 6 with over a hundred people attending.

“Everyone was hugging each other a little tighter last night. He touched all our hearts and was with us in spirit. He is looking down on us letting us know it is okay,” said Marco Ventresca, Gabbert’s friend from elementary school days.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help Gabbert’s family with the funeral costs.

The GoFundMe was created by a friend of the family, Jody Spriggs, in an effort to make the process even the slightest bit easier, said Ventresco.

OWU men’s soccer coach Jay Martin was open to talking about one of his former athletes. A long time coach of Gabbert, he said he is sad to see such a talented kid go. Martin was not only his coach at OWU but had also worked with Gabbart on the field during summer soccer camps.

Martin said Gabbert was studying physical education and dreamt of becoming a coach and teacher.

Martin also said the university plans to hang a banner featuring Gabbert’s name and number at OWU’s soccer field in his honor. He said the team will retire the number 19 in his honor. He wants people to know that the support from the community has been amazing and is appreciated. 

Miller, who had known Gabbert for 9 years, said, “[Luke] did everything for everyone else and did not expect anything in return. He was so lovable and loving...No one is ever going to forget Luke.”

In just six hours, friends, family and well wishers of Gabbert came together to raise over $8,000 for the family to cover funeral costs. To view the GoFundMe account, click here.

UPDATE: The calling hours and Celebration of Life services will be held at Grace Church of Powell, 7600 Liberty Road, Powell, Ohio. Calling hours will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, with a service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Students find their home away from home in Greek Life

Tri-Delta greets new sisters on Bid Day.
Tri-Delta greets new sisters on Bid Day.

The week after winter break, unaffiliated men and women geared up to go through recruitment in hopes of finding a fraternity or sorority to call home.

Even though these two events occurred during the same time, they were carried out differently.

The goal of recruitment for both fraternities and sororities is to expand their chapters, and both sets of organizations carry out the processes differently. While the fraternities have a more relaxed style of recruitment, sororities have a more regimented recruitment.

Fraternities have events spanning over two weeks, culminating in men receiving bids, potentially from multiple fraternities and choosing to sign them, deferring or declining. Sorority recruitment takes place in a four-day period.

Matthew Mehaffy signs his bid to Chi Phi.
Matthew Mehaffy signs his bid to Chi Phi.

“Women’s fraternity and sorority recruitment on this campus abide by and follow NPC (National Panhellenic Conference) guidelines when running recruitment and comprise of a formal structure taking place over a specific time period determined by NPC standards,” said senior Kathryn Pickens, Vice President of Recruitment on the Panhellenic Council.

Levi Harrell, the interim Interfraternity Council Advisor, describes fraternity recruitment as “a semi-structured formal recruitment system that last two weeks and allows unaffiliated men to go to various events hosted by all eight of our active chapters on-campus.”

The new members of Kappa Alpha Theta pose for a photo creating the Theta symbol of the kite.
The new members of Kappa Alpha Theta pose for a photo creating the Theta symbol of the kite.

Because of the different styles of recruitment, each fraternity and sorority has a different way of attracting potential new members.

Junior Garrett Van Schaick, Sigma Chi president, said that each fraternity has two dates in which potential members would be able to provide “different spotlights” on the individual houses.

Delta Zeta women Zoe Crankshaw, Kristen Krak, and Katie Powell smile in a fake picture frame at the DZ house on Bid Day.
Delta Zeta women Zoe Crankshaw, Kristen Krak, and Katie Powell smile in a fake picture frame at the DZ house on Bid Day.

On the other hand, sorority recruitment is in one weekend, where all of the potential new members go to each house a period of time to get to know the women of the sorority.

Sophomore Sophia Apostolou, the incoming Vice President of Recruitment for Delta Delta Delta said she prefers the sorority style of recruitment because she feels “that it is the best way to get to know the girls and figure out how their interests and values match up.”

Other sorority representatives agree that the system implemented by the NPC is effective in recruiting potential new members.

“We believe formal recruitment is a fair way for the women going through [recruitment] to see each of the five houses and what fits best for them individually,” said junior Jordan Bernstein, chief executive officer of Kappa Alpha Theta.

Delta Gamma new members drop their anchors and pose with traditional Hawaiian leis.
Delta Gamma new members drop their anchors and pose with traditional Hawaiian leis.

Senior Malcolm Clark, IFC President, said the fraternity recruitment process is “constantly a work in progress.”

“We have been trying to implement suggestions from members from all parts of the Ohio Wesleyan community,” he said.

Junior Rodrigo Ravaglia, president of Delta Tau Delta, also suggests changes in the fraternity recruitment style. He said that “more efficient communication and coordination” would prevent similar events from occurring close to each other.