Leaders on Campus: Inside the Expansion at William & Mary

Featured image courtesy of William & Mary

The city of Williamsburg is as historic as it is beautiful. It has played a significant role in the history of the United States of America and was the scene for many events that helped shape our young nation in the midst of the revolution. Williamsburg also boasts the College of William & Mary.

Originally chartered in 1693, the college is the oldest institute in America. But nestled among the trees and colonial architecture stands another American tradition: Greek Life.

“William & Mary is the birthplace of the American college fraternity and having a chapter at the birthplace is an honor and a privilege,” said Joe Wheeless, Assistant Director for Student Leadership Development at William & Mary.

Greek Life has been a tradition on William & Mary’s campus since 1776. Photo courtesy of William & Mary.

The history of Greek Life on William & Mary’s campus is rich, and now Lambda Chi Alpha will return to the story.

“I think that Lambda Chi will provide a new perspective on the fraternity experience at William & Mary,” said Wheeless. “I think with a strong international organization, it will be a breath of fresh air to some of our organizations and chapters that have found themselves in a little bit of a rut…it will offer something that isn’t currently being offered on campus, in terms of the associate membership or the programming offerings.”

Since the beginning of the fall semester, fraternity staff have been hard at work recruiting the highest caliber of men and working diligently with the staff of the college to reintroduce Lambda Chi to campus. At the forefront of this task is Senior Educational Leadership Consultant Jonathan Gottwald.

For Gottwald, the most exciting part about coming back to a campus after a long absence is having the opportunity to create something completely new.

Jonathan Gottwald, Senior Educational Leadership Consultant, has spent the most time on campus as the lead of the expansion efforts.

“When I sit down with men to talk to them about Lambda Chi Alpha, it’s really more about what are their passions like, what do they want to do in their college career, and how can Lambda Chi be a part of that, and how can they be a part of Lambda Chi,” said Gottwald.

According to Gottwald, recruitment is the most crucial part of a recolonization. If the core of the structure (in this case, founding fathers) is not stable, the whole operation will collapse.

Luckily, the men of the Epsilon-Alpha Colony are in good hands. With the current founding fathers, the group has reached 15 men and still growing.

One of these founding fathers is Coty Bandy, a senior at William & Mary. After serving in the army on active duty for eight years, Bandy decided it was time to further his education. Missing the sense of brotherhood he had in the army, Bandy was one of the first men to accept the challenge of creating something new.

Now serving as the High Sigma, Bandy says that the group of men forming this new brotherhood are people he knows he can lean on in hard times and who will accept him for him. Bandy not only hopes to help other members scholastically, but help mentor them through life through his position as an older student.

Bandy said that he wanted to join a brotherhood where he did not have to prove his worth, so starting Lambda Chi Alpha was the perfect match.

“There are some tough choices I’ve had to make, but I try to think of ways I can try to mentor these younger members by guiding them and hopefully giving them advice,” said Bandy.

With the help of his fellow founding fathers, Bandy is hopeful that the resurgence of Lambda Chi on William & Mary’s campus will be a strong one.

“I think once we have our name more known, we can actually take the lead and roll through with some great initiatives, whether it be helping people out or establishing better study habits for others,” said Bandy. “I think we have the opportunity here to do something great, and I think that the gentlemen that we have recruited are very fine-tuned to do this.”

The men will still be heavily focused on recruitment in the coming weeks and making their Lambda Chi experience exactly what they want it to be. The young colony has also received help from Educational Leadership Consultant Cody Sallee in the form of officer training and showing them the benefits of the Lambda Chi brotherhood.

The recolonization efforts at William & Mary serve as Cody Sallee’s first time working with an expansion.

While this is the first expansion for Sallee, and there are some nerves involved, it is also a time of great excitement to see what the men can accomplish.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking, because I don’t want to mess anything up, but it’s cool to interact with people who are just brand new to organization and who are immediately jumping into officer roles,” said Sallee.

Though the group of men is small now, the staff at William & Mary and at International Headquarters are confident that given time, the men of the Epsilon-Alpha Colony will become leaders on a campus known for producing some of the country’s best leaders.

William & Mary was first chartered in 1693.

“I really do think at the end of the day, Greek Life is heavily influenced by recruitment, it’s heavily influenced by culture and perception,” said Gottwald. “Perception in everything: how we perceive new members and how they perceive us, how our founding fathers perceive their position on campus.

“I hope that Lambda Chi Alpha can be the leaders to instill the difference going forward.”


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