An Open Conversation about Greek Life

On Friday evening, members of Tau Kappa Epsilon hosted an open forum to address students’ concerns and opinions on bringing greek life back to Southern Oregon University. Their brothers from another chapter in Los Vegas, Nevada flew up to show what Tau Kappa Epsilon had brought to and helped with at their campus.

Southern Oregon University used to have Greek Life on campus from 1962 to 1976. Back in 2016, there was talk about introducing greek life back onto campus, but the former president signed an agreement not to open the discussion about greek life for 3 years. Recently the contract ended and this is the second forum, since its end, to discuss greek life on campus.

During the forum, the group talked about the slogan of TKE, “Better Men for a Better World.” The president of TKE’s Ioda Delta colony from Nevada, Los Vegas flew up with 2 other members to present at this forum. He says that the mission statement is about guidance.

“Creating Better Men for a Better World is about bringing in young men that may be a little bit confused about what they’re doing in college right now…to help guide them to whatever direction they would like to be in through our process and [give them] male role models…that helped me a lot personally. I’ve had a lot of these guys act as big brothers to help me with a lot of stuff whether it be just getting ready for a job interview or making a resume… it’s all about just really helping you through that pivotal point in your life in any way possible,” states Benjamin Colunga.

TKE has a real emphasis, not just on brotherhood, but philanthropy and academics as well. They have raised a lot of money for children charities, like St. Jude. They recently had a fundraiser and contributed all of their earnings, over $400+, to the charity to help families. They also do woodcuts for Jackson County Fuel Community along with hoping to work closely with student life here on campus

During the forum the obvious question was what guidelines does the frat have regarding things like alcohol and parties. They explained that they have strict guidelines in place for parties such as a ban on hard alcohol on chapter property. They also have strict guidelines against open parties. The new members of the TKE are given guidelines books which outline the frat’s history and policies. Chris Gaylord, a member that just joined this fall, talks about the new member book.

“I have this new member education manual which tells us about the values, the goals, the history and information about the fraternity…they are really expansive and they have a lot of systems in place to prevent any issues,” Chris said.

TKE referenced brotherhood, stating the being in a fraternity would help a young man expand their social circles, it would help them get jobs and build them a stronger community. Caleb Chavez, a member of TKE in Los Vegas claimed that fraternity helped him with school and mental health.

“I have a lifetime history of mental health, [including] generalized anxiety and major depression. When I met these guys, who are my brothers now, it was a period of my life when I was struggling unsuccessfully to manage [my mental health] and my housemate, [and they] were like, “Hey come along to one of these recruitment events just come meet the guys,” and I went to one of the events and I liked them and I wanted to get out more so I went through the process. It’s part of the reason I came back to school [because] I was in contact with the guys…they were helping me [and] they cared a lot…I’m a brother at TKE now, I will graduate from school soon and, while certainly they are not professional therapists, just being a brother in our fraternity helped me,” Chavez said. 

To conclude, Dylan Knotsman the president of TKE here on campus stated that Greek Life adapts to the campus not the other way around. 

“Something I’ve learned is that the fraternity takes on the campus culture rather than the other way around. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh the fraternity’s gonna come in and change everything,” but really when a student comes to SOU, they’re coming here because it is SOU and then if there is a fraternity here that a nice bonus. At the end of the day we all want to be a part of SOU’s campus and that’s what we’re fighting for, to be included and contribute to the campus and community and be a positive impact for students,” said Knotsman.

To learn more about Tau Kappa Epsilon check out their website:

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