The Delta Kappa Chapter of Theta Chi at Ball State was shut down Oct. 3, 2018. As Ball State’s oldest fraternity, it was closed due to “confirmed violations,” according to a statement from Theta Chi’s national headquarters.
The fraternity couldn’t return until at least three years after their closure.
John O’Dell served three positions during his time in Theta Chi. He was the recruitment chair for the chapter, recruitment chairman for the campus within Interfraternity Council (IFC) and president in his last year.
The suspension was “bittersweet,” O’Dell said.
Theta Chi started at Ball State in 1922 as the Triangle Club, according to its website. The name was changed to Theta Chi Jan. 20, 1951, when it became a chapter at Ball State.
Theta Chi originally lived in Elliot Residence Hall, the first men’s dormitory on campus. For the next 50 years, Theta Chi lived in six different houses.
O’Dell pledged for Theta Chi in the fall 2006 because of the “brotherhood.” At the time, Theta Chi was a dry house, and according to O’Dell, it was full of “laid back guys.”
Theta Chi alumni were unaware of the national headquarters and Ball State’s investigation while it was happening. Alumni and the 2018 members had monthly calls where members didn’t acknowledge the investigation or the claims against them.
“That was really it for us,” O’Dell said “The straw that broke the camel's back was the complete unwillingness to want to own up to what they did and then try to fix it and use resources like the university, us as alumni, our international headquarters.They just showed a complete unwillingness to accept help.”
Ball State informed the alumni of the suspension, and Theta Chi national headquarters made the decision to suspend the chapter. The 2018 members were evicted from Theta Chi’s house at the time and were forced to find other housing, according to a previous Ball State Daily News article.
Despite the members leaving the house, Theta Chi still owns the home. At this time, it’s being leased out to Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), said Hunter Luzadder, current Theta Chi president.
Three years later, in fall 2021, Theta Chi International Headquarters (IHQ) sent representatives to Ball State’s campus to recruit men interested in reestablishing the fraternity, Luzadder said via email.
Ball State’s Theta Chi gained recognition as a colony from IHQ Nov. 21, 2021. Ball State’s Office of Student Life approved Theta Chi as an official student organization March 2022. They have also rejoined Ball State’s IFC.
“Starting fresh would be exciting,” O’Dell said. “Being able to start something from scratch and put your own mark on it and be basically a founding brother of an organization that we've got thousands of alumni brothers, and we got decade's worth of experience to help.”
In fall 2022, Theta Chi returned with five members, and by September, they had nine, said Luzzadder.
Theta Chi’s current goal is to be recognized as a chapter. The average chapter size for the 2021-22 academic year ranged from 14 members on the low end to 60-70+ members, Luzadder said.
Luzadder met with Zachariah Brumfield, associate director of The Office of Student Life, to discuss Theta Chi’s possibilities on becoming a chapter and on the average chapter size. According to Luzadder, the average chapter size is expected to be lowered for the 2022-23 academic year due to COVID-19.
Once Theta Chi becomes reinstalled as a chapter by the Office of Student Life and when ATO’s lease is up, Theta Chi will move back into their original home on W. Riverside Ave., Luzadder said.
Theta Chi members are focusing on doing more one-on-one meetings and smaller events with prospective members, and they’re cautious of who they bring into the group, due to Theta Chi’s past.
Prior to Theta Chi being shut down, there was a “social pause” put on all fraternities, signed Oct. 23, 2017, and it was effective until Jan. 31, 2018, according to email records from director of Greek Life Kari Murphy and vice president for student affairs and enrollment services Ro Anne Royer Engle.. All 13 presidents in IFC at the time signed this social pause, including Theta Chi’s president at the time.
During this pause, all active fraternity members were required to attend an “alcohol skills training workshop” and “sexual violence and bystander intervention workshop.”
In emails from Oct. 17, 2017, Murphy references a Daily News article about sexual assaults being reported on Riverside and states “I’m guessing this is from the Theta Chi report,” in an email to Royer Engle.
A Theta Chi member filed a lawsuit against a fellow brother for compensation for “medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages, future medical expenses, future pain and suffering and for all other relief just and proper in the premises,” June 12, 2018, due to being slapped in the face. According to the lawsuit, members would frequently slap each other in the face as a greeting.
Luzadder and the new members are dealing with these allegations currently, attempting to shed their past reputation. Luzadder said new members will be learning sexual assault prevention and hazing prevention, along with focusing on drug and alcohol awareness.
“We want good, outstanding people in our Ball State community to be part of this group,” Luzadder said. “Especially to build it. We are starting something brand new.”