This semester, Yale students will have the option to rush a new fraternity on campus.
Though Chi Psi, one of the oldest fraternities in the United States, has not had a chapter at Yale since 1963, a group of students including Michael Herbert ’16 began the process of starting a new chapter last spring. Chi Psi, which received its charter on Nov. 16 and will likely purchase a house in the near future, will join the array of fraternities at Yale this semester.
“It’s not your ‘Animal House’-style party frat,” said Jordan Bravin ’16, current Chi Psi vice president. “[Chi Psi] is the gentleman’s fraternity.”
When Herbert first contacted the Chi Psi national headquarters last year, he was told he had to recruit 15 people in order to have permission to use the Chi Psi name. After recruiting enough interested students, Herbert achieved preliminary “colony status” for the group and began programming and education, facilitated by representatives sent out by the national Chi Psi office, in preparation for the rechartering process.
The chapter was given its official charter on Nov. 16, members began attending a series of classes about the upcoming rush and pledge processes.
At first, the Chi Psi national headquarters told Herbert he would probably not see Chi Psi obtain its own house during his time at Yale. Yet Herbert, aided by Chi Psi student leaders, and one particularly helpful alumnus, Baker Duncan ’48, have been able to secure funding and identify a property for the “Lodge.”
“There’s just a few more i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but it should happen within the next few weeks,” Herbert said of the house purchase.
Chi Psi members said one of the biggest challenges they face is establishing legitimacy on campus.
Yanbo Li ’16, current social chair for Chi Psi, said people do not want to join Greek organizations that do not have a campus presence. In part to establish a presence on campus before the beginning of rush, Chi Psi hosted a “Refounding/Christmas Party” at Elevate in December.
Current members said Chi Psi’s historical legacy at Yale has been crucial, as it has helped the newest generation of Chi Psi secure funding for restarting the chapter and purchasing a house. Chi Psi first came to Yale in 1924 and remained on campus until the chapter dissolved in 1963. The Yale chapter has been listed as “dormant” for the past 50 years.
Current Chi Psi leaders described Yale Chi Psi alumni, the youngest of whom are now in their early seventies, as supportive and generous, although hard to track down at times.
Herbert said his inspiration to start the fraternity came from a high school friend who is a member of Chi Psi at the University of Colorado Boulder.
All of the current student leaders of Chi Psi agreed that what differentiates them the most from other fraternities on campus is their focus on brotherhood. While the fraternity may host some parties and engage in philanthropic work at Yale, neither of these pursuits are the main focus, Bravin said. Instead, he said, the emphasis is on friendship and community.
“The buzzword is kind of the Chi Psi nice guy,” Herbert said.
The Chi Psi fraternity currently has 32 active chapters across American campuses.