By Alexis Schulz and Shanna O’Mara
Fraternity Theta Chi will re-establish a chapter on campus after it lost its recognition in 1992 following a pledging ritual-related death three years prior.
Recruitment for the fraternity will begin this spring, although a housing location will not be designated until members are on campus. According to Amanda Eisele, assistant director of campus life for fraternity and sorority life, Greek campus life has changed since the 1980s and ’90s.
“I fully expect that as a new organization on campus, Theta Chi will do everything in [its] power to build a tremendous reputation and keep members of the chapter and the Rider community safe,” she said. “That is my expectation for all fraternities and sororities at Rider. A new chapter will be no different.”
On April 21,1988, John A. Delesandro held a party at his home in Edison where several students took part in a pledging ritual. During the early hours of that Friday, Delesandro, Scott Mackin of New Hope, Pennsylvania and Sean T. Hickey of Hazlet, all 19 at the time and pledges of Theta Chi, left to buy more liquor with fake identification. Delesandro was traveling 50 to 70 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone and crashed into a parked truck, according to The New York Times. His blood-alcohol level registered at 0.221 percent, nearly three times the current legal limit of 0.08.
Hickey died at Robert Wood Johnson hospital, while Mackin suffered minor injuries. Delesandro was charged with aggravated manslaughter and drunk driving, according to The New York Times.
Some policies on Rider’s campus have changed since Theta Chi was part of the community. The alcohol policy is much stricter since the 2007 death of Gary DeVercelly, an 18-year-old student who died of alcohol poisoning after a party at the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
According to Eisele, three different organizations met with the campus expansion committee, which decided to reintroduce one fraternity.
“Theta Chi was chosen because they have a very unique membership program in their Resolute Man program,” she said. “They offer some great leadership opportunities both locally and nationally. Overall, we felt the organization will be a very good fit with our current groups as we continue building the community.”
Cindy Threatt, interim associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said in an email to the campus community that the university selected Theta Chi over the other organizations because of its dedication to its members.
“Specifically, they were selected for their strong membership development program, strength in national staffing, demonstrated alumni support, commitment to leadership development, and congruence with the Rider mission and vision,” she said.
Many students on campus, particularly those that are part of Greek life, are excited to see a new fraternity pop up on campus.
“I’m super excited that the Greek community is growing, specifically the male organizations,” said Nadia Saez, a junior marketing major. “Adding another fraternity on campus is allowing independent men who want to be in a fraternity the ability to have more options to choose from when rushing. They won’t be limited to just the couple of organizations that we have now.”
According to Eisele, Theta Chi will have a full-time staff member on campus during the spring semester for the transition of the fraternity into campus.
“He will be working with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to help build the colony,” she said.
According to Kristine Brown, assistant vice president of communication and marketing, re-establishing Theta Chi will allow for more community involvement in leadership initiatives.
“It goes back to our president’s focus on engaged learning outside of the classroom,” she said. “Now more students can participate in Greek life and have the opportunity to be engaged in philanthropy and leadership initiatives during their time at Rider.”