As a senior, ASUA Executive Vice President Bryan Ponton never thought he would be joining a fraternity, let alone become a founding father of one.
“My friends laugh when I tell them I’m doing this, but it felt right,” he said. “I’m leaving the university in May. Now I have something to come back to.”
Geoff McDonald, the coordinator of chapter and colony development for Alpha Sigma Phi national fraternity, initially approached Ponton over the summer to ask if he could suggest viable recruits for the new fraternity. At the time, McDonald did not realize Ponton was a student, and once he did, he persuaded Ponton to join.
Ponton explained that although he signed up for fraternity rush his freshman year, he didn’t end up going through the rush process because it was “not his scene.” McDonald explained to him that he wanted to recruit a group of gentlemen who wanted something different from Greek Life — “to better the man,” which is the fraternity’s motto.
Ponton said that becoming a founding father of the fraternity, which left the UA in 1967 and will come back this year, means he can “set the standard” for how the organization will run in years to come while changing the negative stereotype fraternities often have.
“I want people to see how different we are going to be in the fraternity game, and that people will want to join that,” he added.
For Theta Chi President Isaac Figueroa, a senior studying political science and philosophy, being a founding father of his fraternity last spring meant becoming a leader.
“It allowed me to really prove who I am and show what kind of character I have,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to be different, brave and bold.”
Figueroa said Theta Chi drew him in for many reasons — he liked the others who joined, he liked the fraternity on a national level and he liked what the fraternity stood for. He said that becoming a founding father, however, meant taking on responsibility to ensure the fraternity’s future success.
“We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard in the way we act because everything we did became the traditions,” he explained. “We have the utmost respectable behavior to create a precedent for all new brothers in the future.”
SLAG, or scholars, leaders, athletes and gentlemen, is what the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity founding fathers looked for in new members since their re-charter in August 2009, according to Ray Holmgren, president of Phi Kappa Alpha and a psychology senior.
“The vision we all had is making something different than what was already on campus,” he said. “We wanted something more out of a fraternity other than partying and other stereotypes.”
Holmgren said he originally pledged to a different fraternity, but dropped when he realized his values didn’t align with theirs. He said he still wanted to be involved in Greek Life and when the Phi Kappa Alpha national organization called him to join, they explained he had the opportunity to create a fraternity in his own image.
“I decided to be a re-founding father and contribute to making an ideal fraternity. Joining gave me an ability to make that ideal possible,” Holmgren said.
Holmgren explained Phi Kappa Alpha is different because many of its members are leaders in other clubs and sports as well as dedicated to their education.
“The main goal is to stay away from the frat stereotype,” he added.