“If you build it, they will join.” The refounding of the University of Iowa

In fall 2022, Pi Lambda Phi built a colony 30 members strong at the University of Iowa with the help of an energetic expansion coordinator and a handful of highly motivated prospects. 

Our fraternity has history in Iowa City. Iowa Phi was a Phi Beta Delta chapter in 1922, and would have joined Pi Lambda Phi, but it closed in 1936, five years before the merger.

Opportunity Found Pilam

Iowa was on the radar for colonization, but it was an Iowa undergrad that tipped the scales in their favor. 

Sophomore, Clay Fenton was initially discouraged with the offerings of the established fraternities on campus. He said, “I wanted to get into Greek life, and I wanted people that pushed me to do better.” He rushed a fraternity but said, “I just didn’t find what I was looking for.”

So Clay did some research. He found Pi Lambda Phi online and liked what Pilam stood for, “elimination of prejudice, non-sectarianism, philanthropy… and some cool alumni.” 

Building the Foundation

Hunter Holbrook, Chapter Services & Expansion Coordinator, a veteran of his own chapter’s recent founding in 2020 (Grand Valley State), would be the Pilam expansion rep on campus.

He was happy for the support and enthusiasm of Clay and a core of friends recruited from the dorms. Clay approached his buddies from Courier Hall and started pitching them on the idea. He asked them, “I know it sounds insane, but if we could do this, would you want to be a part of it?” 

The overwhelming answer was “yes.”

Hunter said the group was “enthusiastic and easy to coach.” They were already friendly and outgoing, so they took to tabling and approaching other students naturally. When asked to help recruit, Clay said, “Hell yeah, I’m there. We’ve got this great fraternity here and we want more people to know about it.”

Hunter also took recruiting online. He emailed students on the Dean’s list, DM’d students on Instagram, and set up Zoom calls for those who were interested, picking their brains for what they wanted a fraternity to be. 

Grassroots support

The prospects initially assembled by Clay became the core of Pilam’s recruitment efforts. They were all-in on establishing a fraternity that represented their beliefs, and were always available to spread the word.

Iowa also got welcome support from neighboring Wisconsin brothers. In spite of their Big 10 rivalry, UW-Madison brought a crew of established brothers to help with rush, and meet with prospects. The “cheeseheads” even provided support for Iowa’s initiation.

The New Iowa Phi’s

The IA Phi chapter initiated a total of 30 refounding brothers in Fall 2022. All eleven students in Clay’s dorm group became brothers. 

Hunter called the chapter, “a very social group… guys you’d want to hang out with.” The brothers are made up primarily of business (Tippie), exercise science, health, and science majors with a GPA exceeding 3.5.

Clay, who was elected Archon, said of the brothers, “they’re easy to get along with, chill guys, not trying to one up each other. We’re all just level with each other.” 

Congratulations on being “level” and welcome, Pilam Hawkeyes!

Help Pi Lambda Phi continue to grow!

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