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Lambda Chi Alpha
|Lambda Chi Alpha|
|Founded||November 2, 1909 (1909-11-02)
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
|Scope||United States and Canada|
|Motto||Per Crucem Crescens
(Crescent through the Cross)
Χαλεπά τά καλὰ
(Every Man a Man)
|Symbol||Cross and Crescent|
|Publication||Cross and Crescent, Paedagogus, Zeta Zephyr, Purple, Green and Gold|
|Chapters||194 active, 322 chartered|
|Members||~11,000 collegiate
280,000+ lifetime
|Nicknames||Lambda Chi, Lambda, LCA, LXA|
|Headquarters||11711 N. Pennsylvania Street Suite 250
Lambda Chi Alpha (ΛΧΑ), commonly known as Lambda Chi, is a college Fraternity in North America, which was founded in 1909. It is one of the largest social fraternities in North America, with more than 280,000 lifetime members and active chapters and colonies at 195 universities. The youngest of the fifteen largest social fraternities, Lambda Chi Alpha has initiated the third highest number of men ever, based on NIC statistics. Lambda Chi's International Headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its members are referred to as "Lambda Chis", "LCAs", "Lambdas", and "Choppers". It was a member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) until October 2015.
The official story adopted by Warren A. Cole and Albert Cross is that on November 2, 1909, Cole, Percival C. Morse, and Clyde K. Nichols reorganized the Cosmopolitan Law Club, a society of law students of Boston University, into the Loyal Collegiate Associates which was renamed in 1912 to Lambda Chi Alpha. All were close friends and had been members of Alpha Mu Chi, a prep school fraternity. The Greek letter name is thought[by whom?] to have been used from the beginning, but is not recorded in the Alpha Zeta minutes until April 27, 1910.
A second account of the founding, based on interviews with contemporaries, relates that Cole and others did belong to a loose group known as the Tombs or Cosmopolitan Club, but this was not related to the founding of Lambda Chi Alpha. Cole shared an apartment with James C. McDonald and Charles W. Proctor, who later joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Cole established his own fraternity with Ralph S. Miles, Harold W. Bridge, Percival C. Morse on November 23, 1911. The group issued a charter for itself back-dated to November 15.
Cole approached many local groups at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast looking for others willing to join his new fraternity. He had corresponded with or visited 117 institutions by the time a group at Massachusetts Agricultural College accepted a charter to become Gamma Zeta, in 1912. The first General Assembly, laying down a structure for a national fraternity, was held in Boston on April 13, 1912.
The fraternity held its second general assembly in Boston on March 22, 1913. There the organization adopted its secret motto, ritual insignia including the badge and coat of arms, and the basic organization; it virtually replaced the fraternity Cole had established outside of its name. The 14th General Assembly, in 1931, recognized March 22 as Lambda Chi Alpha Day, in recognition of these achievements. In 1942, the board of directors renamed it Founder's Day. November 2, 1909 is also still recognized, so Lambda Chi Alpha celebrates two Founders Days each year.
In the years that followed, a divide opened between Cole and a group of young alumni led by Mason, Ernst J.C. Fischer of the Cornell University chapter, and Samuel Dyer of the University of Maine chapter, the latter supported by Albert Cross of the University of Pennsylvania chapter and Louis Robbins of the Brown University chapter. In 1920, Cole was ousted and Fischer was elected national president. In 1927, he became international president when Epsilon-Epsilon Zeta at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada was chartered. Cole was expelled from the fraternity he founded, and not restored to good standing until 1957.
Theta Kappa Nu
With the help of the National Interfraternity Conference in identifying local groups, and Theta Kappa Nu's policy of granting charters quickly to organizations with good academic standards, the fraternity grew quickly, and had approximately 2,500 initiates in 40 chapters by the end of 1926.
During the Great Depression both Theta Kappa Nu and Lambda Chi Alpha saw membership decrease and chapters shut down. In 1939 The two fraternities merged. The merger ceremony was held at the Howard College (now Samford University) chapter of Theta Kappa Nu in Birmingham, Alabama. The merger increased the number of chapters from 77 to 105 (or 78 to 106) and the number of members from 20,000 to 27,000. At the time, this was the largest merger in fraternity history. All Theta Kappa Nu chapters became Lambda Chi Alpha chapters and were given chapter designations that began with either Theta, Kappa or Nu. At schools where chapters of both fraternities previously existed, the two merged and retained Lambda Chi's Zeta recognition.
Membership in the North American Interfraternity Conference
The fraternity was a member of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) from its earliest days. In October 2015 the fraternity left the NIC, citing in-fighting and dysfunctional governance. The fraternity's exit coincides with NIC lobbying for the Safe Campus Act, which is opposed by both the fraternity and sexual assault advocacy groups.
Pledging and hazing policy
Beginning in August 1969, the concept of "fraternity education" replaced "pledge education." The fraternity education program was designed to integrate all new members into the chapter equally.
In 1972, Lambda Chi Alpha officially abolished the "pledge process" and replaced it with Associate Membership. Associate Members within Lambda Chi Alpha to this day have all of the same rights as initiated brothers, can hold officer positions, wear the letters, and can vote on all issues except for those involving the Initiation Ritual. This status as an Associate Member allows new members to enter the fraternity with respect, and helps to combat the issues that arise from the abuse of "pledges." Lambda Chi Alpha was the first fraternal organization to abolish pledging. "Pledge implies a second-class membership, indentured servitude, hazing, class officers, and extensive memorization. Pledge implies a fixed length of menial membership that is used as a gateway to full membership, with often significantly lower expectations"
Lambda Chi Alpha formally prohibits hazing of any form, on or off campus, by any of its members. The fraternity's constitution defines hazing as "any action taken or situation created intentionally to produce physical discomfort or mental discomfort by embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule." The fraternity first condemned hazing at a 1928 North-American Interfraternity Conference meeting by Bruce McIntosh.
In 2007, Remy Okonkwo, a member at Georgetown College, was found hanging in the fraternity house on campus. The coroner ruled his death a suicide but his family still believes foul play was involved. Nine years later (2016), Colson Machlitt, a football player at Georgetown College, died after allegedly jumping down a flight of stairs. Alcohol was suspected to be involved in his death.
In 2014, following a yearlong investigation, seven members at the University of Illinois were arrested and charged with using and distributing illegal drugs. Police found in the fraternity house MDMA pills, 40 grams of MDMA powder, cocaine residue, Adderall pills, suspected LSD, cannabis, a large tank of nitrous oxide, as well as drug paraphernalia. As a place to purchase drugs, the fraternity had gained the nickname "the candy shop".
Also in 2014, The Lambda Chi Alpha General Fraternity (LCAGF) board of directors voted to suspend its Lambda Zeta chapter at MIT for at least five years due to “conduct that does not support the fraternity’s priority of providing a healthy chapter environment for its members.” 
In 2015, the chapter at East Tennessee State University was suspended for five years for hazing associate members, accepting ineligible members, and hosting unauthorized parties with alcohol present. The chapter at Sam Houston State University was suspended until 2019 for multiple alcohol violations.
In 2016, the chapter at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was shut down after repeated hazing violations and disorderly conduct reports. The same year, the chapter at Southern Methodist University was given a five-year suspension for hazing and code of conduct violations. The fraternity was previously suspended in 2009 for similar infractions which then resulted in 1/3 of members being removed.
Also in 2016, the national office of the fraternity suspended the chapter at the University of Oregon after a Lambda Chi Alpha cooler was discovered among a half-mile-wide swath of trash left behind at Lake Shasta. An estimated 1,000 students had docked houseboats over the weekend, but a photo of the cooler decorated with the phrase "Do you wanna do some blow man?" had gone viral.
In 2017, the chapter at Butler University was suspended by the school without citing a specific reason, although local news reported that alcohol violations played a part. The university said it would not consider reinstating the chapter until 2021. Following the suspension, a woman filed a civil rights complaint against the school, saying that it grossly mishandled her allegation that she was raped by a member of the fraternity during a fraternity party. The fraternity member had previously been accused of sexual misconduct by another student.
In 2018, the chapter at California Polytechnic State University was placed on interim suspension after social media images surfaced depicting members dressed up as gang members and one wearing blackface during the school's multicultural celebration weekend.
From 1993 to 2012, Lambda Chi Alpha's philanthropy was the North American Food Drive (NAFD). As of 2010, NAFD had collected around 33 million pounds of food for food banks. In 2012, NAFD was discontinued under that name and rolled into an ongoing partnership with Feeding America.
In 2017, Lambda Chi Alpha announced a trial partnership with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. Chapters were encouraged to host or participate in head-shaving events to raise money for the foundation.
In 2019, Lambda Chi Alpha announced a partnership with the JED Foundation, a non-profit organization that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. Together, they are launching Lambda Chi Alpha Lifeline, an online mental health resource center tailored from JED’s ULifeline website. ULifeline provides college students with information about emotional health issues and the specific resources available on their campus. It also offers a confidential mental health self-screening tool.
Chapters of Lambda Chi Alpha exist in most U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.
Lambda Chi Alpha is atypical in its naming scheme. Unlike most fraternities, the order in which chapters are named is not strictly based on the Greek Alphabet. Instead, chapters of Lambda Chi Alpha are known as "Zetas". Thus, the Alpha-Beta chapter is designated Alpha-Beta Zeta. In addition, at the fraternity's inception, Cole assigned Greek letters to petitioning groups that had not yet been chartered. Not all of these groups were chartered, as a result, the first twenty-two chapters were designated Α, Γ, Ε, Ζ, Ι, Λ, Β, Σ, Φ, Δ, Π, Ο, Μ, Τ, Η, Θ, Υ, Ξ, Χ, Ω, Κ, Ν, Ρ, Ψ. After the twenty-fourth chapter, the sequence was continued with a prefix following the same sequence (Α-Α, Α-Γ, Α-Ε, ... Γ-Α, Γ-Γ, Γ-Ε, ... Ε-A, etc.)
When Theta Kappa Nu merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939, the former Theta Kappa Nu chapters were all given chapter designations prefixed with Θ, Κ, or Ν. The second letter of their chapter name was assigned in the order mentioned above and applied to the chapters in order of their precedence in Theta Kappa Nu. On campuses with chapters of both Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Kappa Nu, the chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha kept its original designation.
A singular exception, the chapter at Georgia Tech, Β-Κ Zeta, was named in recognition of its existence as a chapter of the national fraternity Beta Kappa, whose other existing chapters merged with Theta Chi in 1942.
Lambda Chi Alpha's founding in Massachusetts in 1909 lead to the location of its first headquarters outside of Boston until after World War I. Later it was moved by members to northeastern Pennsylvania and eventually to Indianapolis, Indiana, where many other fraternity and sorority national headquarters are located.
- 1909: Swansea, Massachusetts
- 1920: 261 Pierce St, Kingston, Pennsylvania, 18704
- 1920: 160 S Main St, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701
- 1920: 30-40 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, Indiana 46205
- 1923: 136 E Market St, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
- 1930: 55 Monument Cir, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
- 1940: 2029 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
- 1954: 3434 N Washington Blvd, Indianapolis, Indiana 46205
- 1974: 8741 Founders Rd, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268
- 2014: 11711 N. Pennsylvania Street Suite 250, Carmel, Indiana 46032
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