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Ask Phi Tau lends an ear and a hand to Belmont, Nashville community

Students may have seen posters with an Ask Jeeves-like logo, complete with red text and cartoonish butler, displayed around campus. Even if they didn’t know what the posters were advertising, though, there would be an easy way to find out.

All they would have to do is ask.

Ask Phi Tau, a project launched by Phi Kappa Tau in March 2014 that centers on philanthropy and service, seeks to put a different spin on both. Instead of focusing on one isolated event, the fraternity keeps the project running year-round.

The idea is simple. Any member of the Belmont community can reach out via Twitter, Facebook or simple face-to-face interaction and ask for just about anything they might need help with.

“It improves our fraternity greatly,” said freshman business major Austin Coleman, who is in charge of public relations for Phi Tau. “It’s brought brothers together and improves our campus presence. It shows the campus what kind of men we are.”

Coleman manages the Ask Phi Tau social media accounts and fields all the requests the fraternity receives, which he said averages about two or three per week.

Typically, the requests involve helping sorority sisters move their Greek letters for events or assisting with furniture removal, even traveling as far as Brentwood.

But sometimes the requests get decidedly atypical. One time Phi Tau President Tatum Tummins was frantically called in to kill a spider in someone’s apartment, Coleman said.

Or there was another time when an Alpha Gamma Delta sister’s date literally backed out on her–he had a back injury–and she called Ask Phi Tau for a prompt replacement.

They delivered.

The brothers never ask for payment, and even when money is exchanged, every cent of it goes to Phi Tau’s philanthropy, SeriousFun Network.

Although the majority of Phi Tau’s clientele happen to be other members of the Greek community, it is not a Greek-only service.

“We want to reach out and show non-Greek students that we will help them,” said Coleman.

But, ideally, the outreach won’t stop there. Once Ask Phi Tau’s presence spreads across Belmont’s campus, there are talks of it becoming a Nashville-wide service, he said.

At least that’s what sophomore Nick Sage would like to see happen. As social chair, Sage took the reigns of Ask Phi Tau for the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year and was responsible for much of its promotion and subsequent growth.

“It has the potential to be bigger than it is now,” Sage said. “The national chapter has reached out to us and said they would be willing to provide trucks.”

As far as both Coleman and Sage know, no other Phi Tau chapter in the country boasts a service like theirs, which is probably why it has received attention from the national level.

The fraternity has already gotten its feet wet in the Nashville community by helping Belmont alumni with various projects–most noticeably, the cleanup of a house half-burnt by a kitchen fire.

Six brothers volunteered to assist the house’s residents with moving any salvageable furniture to their garage in an experience Sage simply called “surreal.”

“It’s been my favorite one so far–so meaningful,” he said. “Seeing us have a little impact meant the world to me.”

From its humble beginnings in March 2014 when people “didn’t know what to do with it” to now, Ask Phi Tau has seen considerable expansion in a short amount of time, said Sage.

The Facebook page’s following, for example, has increased from less than 100 likes to 325 likes in that time. The Twitter account has gone from zero followers to 509, as of April 23. And, by all projections, it’s only going to go up from there.

“We had no idea what we were going to be,” said Sage. “It’s really cool to see what it’s evolved from.”

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