Daily Collegian Story - Theta Chi fraternity goes substance-free

By Carrie Dzwil - Collegian Staff Writer as Printed in the Daily Collegian on October 20, 1998

Theta Chi fraternity goes substance-free

The national chapter of Theta Chi fraternity has decided to become substance-free within five years.

Andy Schmidt (senior-English), president of Penn State's chapter of Theta Chi fraternity, 523 S. Allen St., said the national fraternity had voted on substance-free housing during a summer convention, and many members at Penn State are disappointed about the decision.

"I think it was inevitable due to the recent trends in drinking at fraternities," Schmidt said. "No one is happy about it, but we knew it was going to happen -- we just didn't know when."

Dave Westol, executive director of the national chapter of Theta Chi, said members of the Penn State chapter may be upset about the decision because they were not present at the summer convention. Because representatives from the local chapter were not there, Westol said, they did not get a vote in the substance-free decision.

Westol said the national chapter's decision had a lot to do with other national fraternities proposing alcohol-free houses.

"It's worked for other fraternities -- it could work for us," he said.

The national chapter of Theta Chi is planning for its chapters to become substance-free by launching a program called L.E.A.D., or Leadership, Education and Academic Development, to be implemented by undergraduates and alumni of the fraternity. The program's purpose is to encourage higher standards in Theta Chi chapters through academics and leadership, according to a press release from the national chapter.

The program will include financial incentives for fraternities, Westol said, such as lower insurance rates, scholarships and grants. There also will be some structural changes within the fraternity to complement changes.

Theta Chi has proposed a longer drying-out period than other fraternities, Westol said. The proposal for a five-year plan to complete the process rather than setting the year 2000 as a target date was made in March by a task force set up at another meeting the Penn State chapter did not attend, Westol said.

"(The drying-out period) is longer than others, but that is what we needed to help our undergraduates with the change," he said.