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WOU has its first Greek fraternity

MONMOUTH -- Donovan McFadden became a founding father last weekend -- just not the kind you're used to.

Insignia of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity

Insignia of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity

May 21, 2013

MONMOUTH -- Donovan McFadden became a founding father last weekend -- just not the kind you're used to.

McFadden, a junior, and 52 of his brothers were initiated Saturday as part of the first traditional Greek fraternity at Western Oregon University. The Sigma Tau chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity Inc. is the first such organization in Western's 157-year history.

Work toward that goal began in late 2011 when Jordan Meyers and Alec Olson, through talking with friends in the Kappa Sigma chapter at Oregon State University, decided they wanted to bring a fraternity to WOU.

"Those two started the interest group on campus. I was actually introduced to the group by Tyler Nelson, who was my roommate at the time," McFadden said. "From there we started going out and recruiting guys. There were about 12 guys who really started the group and were integral in the incubation process of it."

From that core of 12, the group eventually grew to 60 late this winter. The group petitioned the university in February to be granted charter status and it was awarded in late April.

The group worked closely with the colony at Willamette University -- themselves just receiving chartership in February -- throughout the process.

"They have been an insane amount of help. It's crazy what they've done for us," Nelson said. "They came over and did the pledge classes for us. They really showed us the way how to do things."

The group was met with some initial hostility from students and even some professors on campus -- a reaction that is indicative of the perception that fraternities are simply drinking clubs, Nelson said.

"A professor bashed fraternities as a whole because of something some other fraternity did at a different campus," Nelson said. "People were not happy. 'We don't need that frat life.'"

McFadden and his brothers spent the majority of their time dispelling the negative stereotypes when recruiting new members. The group pushed community service and GPA requirements to serve as antagonists to perceptions of "the Animal House mentality."

The university started working on guidelines for Greek organizations in 2010, when students voiced to administrators the need for a Greek presence on campus. Western has a stringent mechanism in place for students who wish to start fraternities or sororities.

"The way we see it, it's never going to turn into something where fraternities and sororities take over campus," Coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life and Activities Trenton Nettles said.

Nettles and the Student Leadership and Activities staff proved essential to getting the Kappa Sigma chapter where it is, McFadden said.

"The SLA group were very good from an administrative side, letting us know that, although some faculty members and students don't like us, there is a need for this group on campus," McFadden said. "A need for this in the diversity in Western Oregon and they just kept supporting us."

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