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A Sense of Pride: In an Effort to Recolonize, Alumni of Closed William & Mary Chapter Sent 9 Advisory Board Members to Neville

A Sense of Pride: In an Effort to Recolonize, Alumni of Closed William & Mary Chapter Sent 9 Advisory Board Members to Neville

Pride.

Alumni of Epsilon-Alpha Zeta at The College of William & Mary have a lot of it.

That is why they are so determined to revive the chapter that has always been a home away from home for them.

The 11 men on the chapter’s advisory board, most of whom graduated in the 1970s, owe a lot to Lambda Chi Alpha and the experiences they had years ago on the campus of the Virginia college. They grew up. They launched successful careers, got married and had kids. They moved on, but never from each other.

“We’re spread all over the state now — the east coast even — but the bond that has persisted all of these years is still there,” Alumnus and Advisory Board Member Tom Wilke said. “It’s just like it is with real siblings. We can start a conversation and not miss a beat from the last time we were talking.”

For decades, most of them got together once a year at the chapter house for the college’s homecoming game. But when the chapter lost its charter and its house five years ago, they refused to let that change anything. They knew they had to do something to keep that alumni spirit alive. So for the past few years, they have hosted a “No House, No Problem” tent party during homecoming.

Photos courtesy of Gary Powers
Since the chapter’s closing five years ago, several alumni from the 1970s have organized a “No House, No Problem” tent party during homecoming.

“We really took the initiative to make sure the alumni stayed connected even though the chapter and house no longer existed,” Alumnus and Advisory Board Member Gary Powers said. “We wanted to make sure we still came together as alumni. And kind of out of that, each year we see more momentum and more and more alumni show up (to the tent party).”

They also knew that, eventually, they had to do something to bring Lambda Chi back to campus. They never lost sight of that, and they have continued to raise funds for their chapter.

“These are the kind of things that we want to keep going, despite the miles between us,” Powers said. “All of us have such a great relationship, and we just don’t want that to go away. We have always felt it was our responsibility to give back to Lambda Chi and William & Mary, because we all feel like it’s made a difference in our lives.”

“It’s a sense of pride for all of us,” Wilke added. “That’s still what we talk about when we get together. It doesn’t go away. When these guys come back on campus — I still live in Williamsburg so I’m back on campus quite a bit — it’s sort of depressing not being able to see a Lambda Chi chapter house.”

But they are optimistic that won’t be the case forever, and they are all doing their part to make sure of it.

Fellow alumni Jeff Trammell and Doug Brown have close ties to William & Mary administrators, so they have done their part to help smooth things out with them in this effort to recolonize.

“This maybe could have happened, but certainly not without them,” Powers said.

Now that a five-year penalty barring Lambda Chi Alpha from being active at William & Mary is up, they’re getting the ball rolling again.

Nine of the 11 advisory board members attended the Neville Advisor’s College in February.

“Our purpose for going to Neville was for us to reacquaint ourselves with the current philosophy of Greek life,” Wilke said. “Since we agreed to take on the role of an advisory board, I think we felt it incumbent on us to take the necessary steps to prepare us in whatever way we could in assisting with the recolonization of our chapter.  I don’t think any us realized ahead of time the vast knowledge we would acquire by attending the academy, and what hopefully will provide invaluable in the months ahead.”

It brought to light changes that have taken place in the Greek community over the past several years, and introduced them to new ways of doing things.

“We’ve been out of this realm for 45 years now, so it opened our eyes to a lot of things,” Wilke continued. “It was just awesome. I think every one of us were very impressed.”

Wilke and Powers agreed attending the conference sparked even more passion in them and kicked things up a notch.

“We feel like we have really hit the ground running now,” Powers said. “What we’re trying to do right now is organize so we can recolonize because when they (undergraduates) do, no one is really going to be there to teach them. So we want to be as supportive as possible and make sure that accomplished brothers are there to help them through the process.”

So why is it so important to them?

Because, they say, being a Lambda Chi means a lot to them.

“We share this amazing bond,” Powers said, “and what’s interesting is that it’s as strong as ever. The support has always been there.”

Wilke agreed.

“Having that life-long bond is amazing,” he said. “We have this huge sense of pride that’s always been so well respected in the community. Even to this day living in Williamsburg, I see a lot of people who are similar to me who have stayed in Williamsburg after college. And a lot of Lambda Chi’s have retired and moved back to Williamsburg because it’s a great retirement community. So there is this continual process of meeting brothers who share in our experience. I still walk around campus with pride knowing I am a Lambda Chi and knowing that people know that.”

If you’re an alumnus of the chapter at William & Mary or would like to help with the recolonization efforts in any way, you may contact Wilke at tom.wilke.bvu6@statefarm.com, or Powers at garyspowers@gmail.com. 

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