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No Frat House, Doesn’t Mean it Can’t be a Frat Home

Updated: Feb 15

Belmont Vision Multimedia, Braden Simmons

Imagine 40 strangers were brothers.  


Gathered around in one of the Gabhart A&B rooms, cards flick and chips run across tables in a mix of poker and blackjack.  


Among those tables, the seniority intermingle with the potential younger brothers. 


It’s the fourth event of Rush Week for Phi Kappa Tau – game night. 


At Belmont University, there are two fraternities that participated in rush week this year, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Chi. They’re primarily focused on being more than a place simply for men to come together – they're focused on becoming a family. 


“We have as a sort of magic because you might meet your best friend and any other club and that's perfectly fine. But I know so many people meet their best man at their wedding through this frat or, I mean the people I hang out with regularly,” said Gabe Randolph, Vice President of Phi Kappa Tau. 


Fraternities are often seen in films as a raucous, destructive party scene that ravages a college campus. 


Surprisingly “the movies may have lied to you,” said Ellis Stafford, president of Phi Kappa Tau. 


They want to be a place for strangers to become “brothers.”  


Every year a group of guys come and rush throughout a week in spring and meet with board members and other potential new members to see if they would be a good fit for the frat. 


“At Belmont its more about philanthropy, rather than the party scene that you typically would see in like a movie or TV show. So we're more philanthropy-driven guys who want to serve our community around us,” said Stafford.  


Both fraternities are very aware of the stigma that exists and make it very clear from their advertising, to their first informational night that they are focused on different values from the ones seen on the headlines.  


“It's a bunch of driven guys. And I wouldn't say that we want to put on an appearance. Anything you see it's pretty organically made,” Randolph said. 


Both Sigma Chi and Phi Kappa Tau held their rushes during roughly the same timeframe, and made sure they gave space for their “potential new members” to go to both if they wanted by planning their events at different times. 


During these events the board members and fellow members are gauging different organizational values and seeing if these men line up with them. 


“So we have this special rating system, which is almost jargon to like somebody who hasn't been just immersed in how our systems work, but is basically just like brothers taking notes,” Randolph said. “We have real discussion because we really want quality guys.”  


Both held similar events ranging from a chess night, to dodgeball night to an informational night that served as a more intentional way to have all of the members and young men rushing a chance to meet and learn more about each other and learn more about each other. 


“Everything from grades to service to kind of drive and passion to hobbies to reputation to asking around and understanding who you are not just when you're put in a chair and kind of telling us what you might want us to hear,” said Hayden Orbaugh, president of Sigma Chi. 


For freshman Creative Entertainment Industries major Sam Wasson, he was hesitant until his friend asked him to join in. 


“‘Yeah, you should come rush’ so I went and then tried it out. And I was like, ‘Oh, this is not at all what I thought it was going to be like this is actually really fun.’ So I kept on going,” he said. 

Wasson also was surprised by the amount of interaction that occurred outside of actual fraternity events. 


These also helped the leaders to decide who - of the roughly 50 applicants per frat - they wanted to offer a bid to. 


The fraternities for many of these men who come to the events, is a chance to find community with other guys in a largely female student body.  


“When you come to a place like Belmont, it's not necessarily this huge, like 50,000 person school,”  said freshman Legal Studies major Graham Widenhoefer. “Which I think more caters to people who are willing to have those more intimate relationships with each other.”


This article was written by Braden Simmons

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