Northwestern chapter of Theta Chi suspends activities due to lack of new members


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Theta Chi is located on the fourth floor of Lindgren House. Theta Chi’s international headquarters placed the Northwestern chapter under suspension after the group expressed interest in disbanding.

Catherine Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

The international headquarters of Theta Chi fraternity has put the Northwestern chapter under suspension after the group expressed a desire to disband, according to a statement from the headquarters.

The chapter, which was installed at Northwestern in 1950, said it wants to disband due to a low number of members and difficulty recruiting, chapter president Bruce Johnson said. The Weinberg sophomore said the chapter has already stopped collecting dues this quarter. According to the headquarters’ statement, it will work with University administration during the suspension to determine the NU chapter’s future on campus.

The chapter currently has about 15 people, only 10 of whom are active, Johnson said. This year, Theta Chi did not recruit any freshmen, he said.

“In terms of recruitment, some years we’ve gotten more members than others, but the kinds of people that were recruited, some weren’t that quality and weren’t that committed to making the fraternity a success,” Johnson said.

Recruitment rates have been steadily declining for about the past 15 years, since Theta Chi’s national headquarters ordered a reorganization, Johnson said. He added that the NU chapter has experienced major struggles since it relocated to the fourth floor of Lindgren House, a residence hall located in the fraternity quad. Theta Chi uses the building’s basement as its chapter room.

Johnson said he was frustrated with both the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and international headquarters for not providing more support when the chapter was struggling with recruitment numbers. He said the international headquarters was “exploitative” and asked the chapter to pay for an app that would help with recruitment, but the chapter had already expressed struggles with finances.

“Nationals has done nothing to help us, even though we told them we were struggling,” Johnson said. “In fact they’ve done more to hurt us. They’re just not taking any action, and they require us to pay money for stuff, which especially for us since we’re so small we don’t have much money.”

Nick Hoke, director of communication at Theta Chi’s international headquarters, said in a statement the headquarters had invested “substantial” energy and resources to support the NU chapter throughout the past several years. This includes efforts on campus, education in conjunction with the fraternity’s regional and international leadership events and remote support, the statement said.

Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life director Travis Martin said the University had noticed Theta Chi’s lack of activity on campus and had tried but failed to get in touch with its members.

“They have not been as active in (Interfraternity Council) and things like that, which kind of raised concerns for us,” he said. “We have struggled to even be in contact with them because of that reason.”

When the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life reached out to the group during Winter Quarter –– after Johnson became president –– he said there was “no point” to respond because the fraternity was “already disbanding.”

IFC president Rodney Orr said he understands Johnson’s frustration with difficulties in recruitment, which can be the “lifeblood” of an organization. The SESP junior said he was not aware of how much of a problem Theta Chi had with recruitment this year and said he wished the group had reached out to IFC for help.

IFC has helped chapters with struggling membership in the past by pairing the fraternity up with a larger one for social events to increase traction with potential new members, Orr said.

“It’s very unfortunate that they feel like they had to disband,” Orr said. “Hopefully it’s something we can learn from for the future and really help them out if they do decide to come back.”

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