DJ DeWitt grew up hearing about Delta Tau Delta his entire life.
As the son of a Northwestern Delta Tau Delta (DTD) alumnus, the Weinberg junior recalls all of his ‘uncles’, who were just all his dad’s fraternity brothers. Though DeWitt spent his first two years at Northwestern not in a fraternity, this year he is showing a new interest in going Greek with the potential of being a member of the same fraternity as his father: the Beta Pi chapter of DTD.
In its heyday, DTD was the biggest fraternity on campus. At 112 members, it was arguably the most popular and widely recognized frat at Northwestern until they lost their chapter four years ago. However, this year, they are coming back.
In the spring quarter of 2007, DTD, or the “Delts” as they were known around campus, had to disband their Northwestern chapter after repeated alcohol policy violations. Their leave, though, would not be permanent. As per Northwestern rules, terminated Greek chapters are allowed to return to campus after a four year waiting period. According to the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Dominic Greene, the Delts have been planning their return from the moment they were asked to leave.
As they started to build a new chapter from scratch this year, DTD assigned Chapter Leadership Consultant Kyle Yarawsky to head up the expansion process. Fresh off overseeing the foundation of new chapters at the University of Delaware and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, it will be Yarawsky’s charge to find and select the students he thinks should be the founding fathers of the new Beta Pi chapter of DTD at Northwestern.
“It’s a cool process where we’re taking guys who have never met each other and identifying them as people who would be great for the organization,” Yarawsky said. “We’ll be taking these guys and putting them together in the hopes that they can put it all together and make it a functioning group.”
The real trick, though, will be seeking out those specific students he thinks would be right for DTD. Yarawsky will be in Evanston for the next two weeks, “starting to build relationships and create a groundwork” for the early recruiting process. Working mostly off of referrals, Yarawsky and his team will be seeking out students who hold themselves to high academic standards and have acted in leadership roles before.
“It’ll be like job interviews — we’re looking for guys that really stand out, guys who are worthy of being founding fathers,” Yarawsky said. "It’s like a grassroots movement: you start with one name and move onto the next one. We think we’ll find a lot of people who are interested.”
In DeWitt, they’ve already found one.
DeWitt went to an alumni event at the DTD house — currently occupied by fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha — where he heard DTD expansion coordinator Mike Slaughter make a presentation about this year’s re-colonization.
“It was a very cooperative feeling...they gave a lot of information, and it looked like there were a lot of people who wanted to be a part of it,” DeWitt said.
Although the real recruiting process won’t begin until January, Yarawsky will spend the next few weeks looking through student organizations on campus to find more students like DeWitt. But being unfamiliar with the Northwestern community, he won’t be doing it alone.
“It’s going to be a new experience for [the DTD expansion team], but they’ll have an advisory board and a lot of help from different groups as they go forward,” Greene said. “We’ll work with the headquarter staff and we’ll be a resource for them.”
Greene will be welcoming the new fraternity to campus with open arms, and he thinks that the opportunity to be one of its founding members will attract students looking for something other fraternities can’t offer.
“I think [DTD] is going to add a fresh new perspective for guys looking for the right thing in an organization,” Greene said. “For entrepreneurs at NU, being a founding father will be very appealing — these guys will be able to build their own institution with its own traditions.”
The idea of starting anew is another opportunity that caught DeWitt’s attention.
“After enough time on campus, a frat’s expectations for itself can start to slide,” DeWitt said. “But when you bring it back fresh, you can reevaluate what the campus needs and set a new standard for the frat — you get to stand back and look at what kind of organization you want to be.”
For Yarawsky, this will be a key selling point to get students excited about rushing Delta Tau Delta.
“We’ll be establishing the frat’s bare-bones structure, but it’s up to these guys to make it whatever they want,” Yarawsky said. "We provide the structure and values, but the [students] have complete ownership of what they create. They’ll be able to create their own legacy, to come back in 20 years and look around and say ‘I started this.’”
Anyone interested in finding out more about Delta Tau Delta and its up-and-coming Northwestern chapter can come to an information session hosted by Yarawsky in the Lake Room at Norris Center on Nov. 2 or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.