Per Crucem Crescens
(Crescent through the Cross)
Χαλεπά τά καλὰ
(Naught Without Labor)
Lambda Chi Alpha (ΛΧΑ) is a college fraternity in North America, which was founded in 1909. It is one of the largest men's fraternities, having initiated more than 280,000 members with active chapters and colonies at 195 universities. Lambda Chi Alpha was founded by Warren A. Cole, while he was a student at Boston University. The youngest of the fifteen largest social fraternities, Lambda Chi Alpha has initiated the third highest number of men ever, based on NIC statistics. Lambda Chi's International Headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its members are referred to as "Lambda Chis", "LCAs", "Lambdas", and "Choppers". It was a member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) until October 2015.
Lambda Chi Alpha was formed on November 2, 1909 when Warren A. Cole, Percival C. Morse, and Clyde K. Nichols formed a new fraternity by reorganization of the Cosmopolitan Law Club, a society of law students of Boston University, into a Greek letter society. The Greek letter name was not used in the Alpha Zeta minutes until April 27, 1910, the first known time it was recorded.
Cole approached many local groups at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast in hopes of finding others willing to join his new fraternity. Before the acquisition of Lambda Chi Alpha's first functioning chapter, Cole had corresponded with or visited 117 institutions.
Lambda Chi Alpha's first established chapter (Gamma Zeta) was at Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC) in 1912. Additional chapters followed, and in 1927 Lambda Chi Alpha became an international fraternity with the founding of Epsilon-Epsilon Zeta at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
With the help of the National Interfraternity Conference in identifying local groups, and Theta Kappa Nu's policy of granting charters quickly to organizations with good academic standards, the fraternity grew quickly, and had approximately 2,500 initiates in 40 chapters by the end of 1926.
During the Great Depression both Theta Kappa Nu and Lambda Chi Alpha saw membership decrease and chapters shut down. In 1939 The two fraternities merged. The merger ceremony was held at the Howard College (now Samford University) chapter of Theta Kappa Nu in Birmingham, Alabama. The merger increased the number of chapters from 77 to 105 (or 78 to 106) and the number of members from 20,000 to 27,000. At the time, this was the largest merger in fraternity history. All Theta Kappa Nu chapters became Lambda Chi Alpha chapters and were given chapter designations that began with either Theta, Kappa or Nu. At schools where chapters of both fraternities previously existed, the two merged and retained Lambda Chi's Zeta recognition.
The fraternity was a member of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) since its founding in 1909. In October 2015 the fraternity left the NIC, citing in-fighting and dysfunctional governance. The fraternity's exit coincides with NIC lobbying for the Safe Campus Act, which is opposed by both the fraternity and sexual assault advocacy groups.
Beginning in August 1969, the concept of "fraternity education" replaced "pledge education." The fraternity education program was designed to integrate all new members into the chapter equally.
In 1972, Lambda Chi Alpha officially abolished the "pledge process" and replaced it with Associate Membership. Associate Members within Lambda Chi Alpha to this day have all of the same rights as initiated brothers, can hold officer positions, wear the letters, and can vote on all issues except for those involving the Initiation Ritual. This status as an Associate Member allows new members to enter the fraternity with respect, and helps to combat the issues that arise from the abuse of "pledges." Lambda Chi Alpha was the first fraternal organization to abolish pledging. "Pledge implies a second-class membership, indentured servitude, hazing, class officers, and extensive memorization.Pledge implies a fixed length of menial membership that is used as a gateway to full membership, with often significantly lower expectations"
Lambda Chi Alpha formally prohibits hazing of any form, on or off campus, by any of its members. The fraternity's constitution defines hazing as "any action taken or situation created intentionally to produce physical discomfort or mental discomfort by embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule." The fraternity first condemned hazing at a 1928 North-American Interfraternity Conference meeting by Bruce McIntosh.
In 2007, Remy Okonkwo, a member at Georgetown College, lifeless body was found hanging in the fraternity house on campus. The coroner ruled his death a suicide but his family still believes foul play was involved. Nine years later (2016), Colson Machlitt, a football player at Georgetown College, died after allegedly jumping down a flight of stairs. Alcohol was suspected to be involved in his death.
In 2014, seven members at the University of Illinois were arrested and charged with using and distributing hard drugs. Police found in the fraternity house MDMA pills, cocaine residue, a scale, Adderal pills, dozens of gelatin capsules for packaging MDMA, suspected LSD, cannabis grinders, pipes, cannabis concealed in a cereal box, a large tank of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and a box containing about 1,000 discarded nitrous oxide cartridges.
In 2015, the chapter at East Tennessee State University was suspended for five years for hazing associate members, accepting ineligible members, and hosting unauthorized parties with alcohol present.
In 2016, the national office of the fraternity suspended the chapter at the University of Oregon after a half-mile-wide swath of trash was left behind at a California lake. It took 25 National Forest Service workers five hours to clean up their massive trash.
In 2016, the chapter at Southern Methodist University was given a five-year suspension for hazing and code of conduct violations. The fraternity was previously suspended in 2009 for similar infractions which then resulted in 1/3 of members being expelled.
As of July 2012, NAFD was discontinued and rolled into a new partnership with Feeding America.
Chapters of Lambda Chi Alpha exist in most U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.
Lambda Chi Alpha is atypical in its naming scheme. Unlike most fraternities, the order in which chapters are named is not strictly based on the Greek Alphabet. Instead, chapters of Lambda Chi Alpha are known as "Zetas". Thus, the Alpha-Beta chapter is designated Alpha-Beta Zeta. In addition, at the fraternity's inception, Cole assigned Greek letters to petitioning groups that had not yet been chartered. Not all of these groups were chartered, as a result, the first twenty-two chapters were designated Α, Γ, Ε, Ζ, Ι, Λ, Β, Σ, Φ, Δ, Π, Ο, Μ, Τ, Η, Θ, Υ, Ξ, Χ, Ω, Κ, Ν, Ρ, Ψ. After the twenty-fourth chapter, the sequence was continued with a prefix following the same sequence (Α-Α, Α-Γ, Α-Ε, ... Γ-Α, Γ-Γ, Γ-Ε, ... Ε-A, etc.)
When Theta Kappa Nu merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939, the former Theta Kappa Nu chapters were all given chapter designations prefixed with Θ, Κ, or Ν. The second letter of their chapter name was assigned in the order mentioned above and applied to the chapters in order of their precedence in Theta Kappa Nu. On campuses with chapters of both Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Kappa Nu, the chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha kept its original designation.
A singular exception, the chapter at Georgia Tech, Β-Κ Zeta, was named in recognition of its existence as a chapter of the national fraternity Beta Kappa, whose other existing chapters merged with Theta Chi in 1942.
Lambda Chi Alpha's founding in Massachusetts in 1909 lead to the location of its first headquarters outside of Boston until after World War I. Later it was moved by members to northeastern Pennsylvania and eventually to Indianapolis, Indiana, where many other fraternity and sorority national headquarters are located.
Kenny Chesney's 2005 single "Keg in the Closet" recalls various details of college life in the late-1980s, including a beer keg that was hidden in the closet at Chesney's house, Lambda Chi Alpha at East Tennessee State University. It is mentioned by name in the line, "This old guitar taught me how to score / Right there on that Lambda Chi porch".
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