April 25, 2013

It’s Greek to them

First fraternity forms at Dalton State

By Christopher Smith

— Dalton State College “doesn’t have a lot of reasons for students to stick around,” history education junior Matt Hall said.

That’s why Hall, accounting senior Nate Baggett and biology senior Carrington Akins spearheaded Dalton State’s first fraternity organization. The three students joined 12 other Dalton State students who signed into the national Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity Wednesday evening at the Pope Student Center.

The three students said details of joining the 99-year old fraternity won’t be known until today, including specific rules and the election process for several positions in the local chapter.

“We really started looking at how to do this,” said Baggett, who will oversee the fraternity chapter in its first year. “The college was supportive and then the organization saw what we were doing and helped us work out the details.”

Dalton State has never had a fraternity or sorority, said several school officials, but signing with Alpha Kappa Lambda could pave the way for both.

“We want to create a better life on campus,” Hall said. “We want to create better unity and to grow this school. I think the community has always seen Dalton State as just a stepping stone to bigger colleges or a college that’s cheap and close to home — a commuter school. Greek life will hopefully keep students here.”

A student must maintain a grade point average of 2.25, enroll full-time, be in good standing with faculty, not be in a separate fraternity and pay membership fees ranging from $150 to $400 based on grade level and standing within the chapter, according to the Alpha Kappa Lambda website.

That helps weed out the less serious students who think fraternities are about drinking alcohol, rowdy partying and pulling pranks on underclassmen, said Baggett. The students don’t envision their fraternity to be a modern day “Animal House.”

“That’s not what a fraternity is,” he said. “We promote brotherhood, philanthropy, community service and networking. Now that we’re official we’re going to be spending the summer arranging some events.

“Right now we’re possibly going to do a 5K at some point. Things like food drives. We’ve talked about helping with a (national) campaign called ‘These Hands Don’t Hurt’ that promotes domestic violence awareness. We’ve also talked about doing some charity work for cystic fibrosis research. There’s a lot of charity work we can do.”

In the process of charity work Akins said members can expect to become lifelong friends with each other.

“This is something you carry on for the rest of your life,” he said. “Fraternity friends are usually a best man in someone’s wedding.”

There won’t be any fraternity housing, but Akins said the new athletics programs will help build Dalton State to the point where we “may — one day — have housing.”

The Dalton State Roadrunners are expected to be officially brought into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics organization on Aug. 1. There are several sports planned, with men’s basketball kicking off this fall.

“That’s going to help the way people see the school,” Hall said. “People will want to stay at Dalton State and be part of the fraternity.”

Gavin Ledford, a freshman who signed into the fraternity, said future athletics and lifelong friendship is enough reason for him to stay at Dalton State.

“This sort of gives us a sense of belonging, “ he said. “And we can better the community and better our neighboring cities and counties, putting in a good word for Alpha Kappa Lambda and Dalton State. It’s not just about finding connections at school. It’s a national brotherhood, a lifetime commitment.”

Emily Ford, a transfer student from Kennesaw State University and a Chatsworth native, said she hopes to see sororities pop up on campus within the next few years.

“I want to start it here for the girls,” she said. “I enjoyed it so much at Kennesaw — I was part of one — and I want to give students the same joy and sisterhood ... We are looking at a more formal process right now, trying to jump start it and get a group together so sorority organizations see that we’re serious and people are committed to the idea.”