How to start a fraternity


The Hill, Lehigh’s on-campus locale for Greek housing, has seen fraternities and sororities come and go over the years. Since the founding of the first Greek organization on campus in 1872, new chapters have been established and existing ones have been removed for various reasons.

Now, Lehigh’s Greek life is expanding again. 

This spring, Pi Lambda Phi is making its return after being founded on campus in 1920 and removed in 1995. The fraternity will have housing on the Hill in the fall of 2024. 

The process of establishing a new fraternity or sorority on campus requires more than gathering a group of men or women and providing them housing. Each chapter’s longevity, reputation and values take time to build, and the process begins outside of Lehigh’s campus altogether. 

Hunter Holbrook, a Pi Lam recruiter, has been working diligently to reopen Lehigh’s chapter since April 2023. 

Holbrook has been working as a recruiter for over a year and has already helped expand chapters at the University of Iowa and St. Joseph’s University.

When the executive director of Pi Lam saw a post from Lehigh that said it was looking to grow its Greek Life, the team of recruiters submitted an application. 

“(Lehigh) asked for an expansion packet, asking for our expansion plan, how we would make sure we were recruiting the right men and how we would set up the chapter with the right support so they would last a long time and create a healthy culture,” Holbrook said. “We submitted about a 70- to 80-page packet that took us a couple months to work on.” 

Out of almost two dozen national fraternities that submitted expansion proposals to Lehigh, Pi Lam and four other chapters were selected to present their plan to stakeholders on campus. Pi Lam was chosen to be the first to expand this spring, and Pi Kappa Phi will be expanding its chapter at Lehigh in 2026. 

Holbrook and his team called in Lehigh Pi Lam alumni to help build the expansion plan and gain support. 

“We tried to set the chapter up with the best amount of support and not just say ‘Okay, go start a new fraternity,’” Holbrook said. “Our alumni were very instrumental. I guarantee we would not be opening up this chapter without their amazing support.”

After being granted the opportunity to expand, Holbrook and his team set out to find men on Lehigh’s campus who met their criteria and the chapter’s goals. They met with and asked for referrals from various offices and organizations on campus, such as the Dean of Students and community service clubs. They also reached out to students who have made the Dean’s List and men they knew were leaders on campus. 

“Our goal for the type of guys we want in our fraternity is to be academically driven, want to give back to the community and be involved on campus,” Holbrook said. “We want a safe place and want people interacting with our members to feel safe and comfortable.” 

Holbrook and his fellow recruiters also did presentations for the Panhellenic sororities on campus. They provided sororities with information about the Pi Lam organization, the type of men they want to represent their fraternity, their national history and what they want to be known for on campus. They also asked each sorority for the names of men they believe hold the values the recruiters are looking for. 

Pi Lam will continue recruiting new members until March 1, but the fraternity already has over 20 new members. 

Tyler Forrest, ‘27, began the recruitment process with Pi Lam by filling out an interest form linked in the fraternity’s Instagram bio. After meeting with Hunter, Tyler received a bid and will be one of the fraternity’s new members. 

“I wanted to join Pi Lam because I thought the opportunity to be a re-founding father and help build up the fraternity sounded like an extremely unique and exciting opportunity,” Forrest said. “I was even more interested when I talked to the guys who are helping to get it started about their values and what type of people they were looking for. To me, it sounded like a place where I would want to be.” 

Ryan Chrostowski, ‘27, will also be a new member of Pi Lam. He said he always knew he wanted to be a part of Greek Life, and Pi Lam stood out to him. 

Chrostowski said he has an entrepreneurial mind and saw joining Pi Lam as an opportunity to be part of starting a “business.”  

“I want to watch something grow past my time at Lehigh that I had a direct impact on,” Chrostowski said. “The professionalism and setting the bar higher is what stood out to me when first looking at Pi Lam, whether it was at the club fair or the IFC kickoff event. It seemed like they were taking their job seriously to make sure this new chapter was going to succeed.” 

While Pi Lam isn’t facing any pressing challenges yet, their future is unknown. Since the chapter will be attempting to find its place in a pre-existing Greek community, they are trying to recruit upperclassmen in order for their members to have role models and leaders. 

Holbrook said Pi Lam needs upperclassmen because they make the fraternity whole and act as people that younger students, especially first-years, can look up to. 

“Moving forward, a challenge this group might face is how they are going to fit into this new Greek community,” Holbrook said. “A lot of people are going to be looking at Pi Lam and wondering, ‘What are these guys going to do? Are they going to do the great things they said they were going to do?’ We need to lean into the fact that it takes time to grow and become a piece of Lehigh, and that will come with time.” 

Pi Lam will finish their rush period in the coming weeks and will forge ahead toward integrating their chapter into Lehigh’s Greek community. 

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