Fledgling frat acquires house

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Photo by George Saussy.

Chi Psi, the campus’s youngest fraternity, has officially acquired a house.

The fraternity was revived by Michael Herbert ’16 in November 2012 and received its charter a year later.  Last week, the 24 brothers and 22 pledges of Chi Psi gathered late at 13 Lake Place to officially celebrate the organization’s new lease on the yellow, four-story house that members refer to as “the lodge.”  The house, which is two doors down from another fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, will undergo an extensive renovation period that is projected to be completed by spring 2015, at which point members will begin to move in. Herbert said negotiations over the house had been in place for months before the deal last week.

According to Herbert, the fledgling organization is growing and gaining legitimacy at a pace that has exceeded the national fraternity’s original expectations.

“When we first started, nationals said to give up on a lodge — [that] there was just no plausible way I would see it at my time at Yale,” Herbert said.

Herbert said the generosity of enthusiastic alumni from Yale’s previous chapter of Chi Psi , which was on campus from 1924 to 1963,  helped the organization overcome unfavorable odds and secure a house. Herbert added that Chi Psi alumni, though hard to find because of their scattered locations, have been  eager to provide financial and moral support to the new chapter.

According to current Chi Psi members, the contribution of one Baker Duncan ’48 was largely responsible for the speed with which the organization garnered sufficient funds to rent the home.

The house was last occupied in 2011, when its former tenant died. Members said the home is in need of major renovations.

“It’s a real fixer-upper, but it’s a process that the national fraternity is committed to,” Herbert said. “In some ways, though, this actually creates more ownership for the brothers and gives us more of a direct tie to the lodge.”

David McPeek ’16, a current Chi Psi pledge, said he is pleased to have a physical home base, and expects improving the house will be a fun process that will bring the fraternity closer together.

When the organization launched in 2012, Herbert recruited an initial class of 12 members. After the spring term pledge process wraps up, the fraternity’s membership will bump up to 46. Jack Belcaster ’16, this semester’s Chi Psi president, called the rise in numbers “an incredible change.”

Herbert said the increasing number of members in the fraternity intensified the need to acquire a home base. Before securing the house at 13 Lake Place, the fraternity held its chapter meetings in classrooms around campus — but having 46 people in a single classroom is not ideal, Herbert added.

Members said that in order to reach their goal of having a habitable house by spring 2015, the national Chi Psi office in Tennessee, alumni and undergraduates will all have to work together to seek a contractor and architect, fund the process and deal with local zoning rights.

“My job is to make sure that we are communicating with the people who are moving ahead with the renovations so that we’re all on the same page about what we expect of one another,” Belcaster said. He also said the current Chi Psi members will financially contribute to the house once they are moved in and paying rent.

In the future, Belcaster said he hopes to amplify Chi Psi’s campus presence. The acquisition of a house in such a short time frame speaks to the organizations’ commitment to become an established face on campus, he added.

The house at 13 Lakewood Place has a basement and three stories. Eight to 10 Chi Psi members will live at the residence when renovations are complete.    

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