By Alex Bacon/The AS Review
What comes to mind when you think “fraternity?” Now, how do you feel about Western having a fraternity? As it turns out, Western does have at least one: Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi).
Alpha Kappa Psi is an on-campus business fraternity, but it’s not a fraternity like the ones that immediately come to mind.
“We’re not Greek row, we’re not a social fraternity,” Stephani Kier, an AKPsi and Western alumni, said.
A social fraternity is what most people think of when they hear Greek letters. A professional fraternity is meant to help its members network, as well as learn skills to help them in whatever profession they eventually enter.
AKPsi falls into the professional fraternity category. It is a business fraternity that aims to prepare its members for the transition from school into the professional world. AKPsi doesn’t engage in hazing as part of its initiation, there is no alcohol at events and the ultimate goal is to network and build relationships, Stephen Farrell, chair of AKPsi’s publishing committee, said.
“Greek letters are stigmatized and it’s our job to change that,” Farrell said.
Another difference between social fraternities and professional fraternities is that when a student graduates, membership ends in social fraternities.
“Membership doesn’t end at graduation,” Farrell said.
AKPsi alumni are still active, still pay dues and still contribute to AKPsi’s overall influence, Ferrell said.
Western’s chapter of AKPsi was colonized in 2007, but AKPsi as a whole was founded in 1904 at New York University. There are chapters in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Western’s chapter is the Omega Beta chapter and Kier was one of the four colonists. When Kier transferred to Western as a junior, she found a flier to join AKPsi and saw the potential for what it could become.
Although AKPsi is a business fraternity, it is not exclusive to business majors. Farrell, a political science major, said AKPsi can be beneficial for any major.
“Everyone has a B.A. now and you need something to bring your resume to the top of the pile, which AKPsi does,” Farrell said.
“[AKPsi] matters quite a bit to those who recognize and understand the history of it,” Kier said. At some point, everybody’s going to join the professional world and AKPsi prepares them to do that, she said.
Some of the activities AKPsi puts on include seminars on interview etiquette and how to write a cover letter or resume. AKPsi also brings in speakers to share experiences and information about the professional world in general, Kier said.
But AKPsi does not focus entirely on preparing for the business world. Western’s chapter focuses a lot on brotherhood, Farrell said.
“It’s a good way to meet people and automatically have people at your back,” Julia Scherting, a freshman who pledged during fall quarter.
All members of AKPsi are called brothers, no matter what gender a member identifies with.
“I don’t feel like it’s degrading,” Kier said. “Being called brother isn’t gender-related. It’s being family. I don’t feel like gender is associated when I think about it.”
According to Farrell, AKPsi sticks with “brother” for equality purposes. There is no gender neutral word in the Greek system, he said.
Kier said that getting asked about being called “brother” opens up doors to explain and talk about AKPsi.
One way AKPsi promotes brotherhood is through their Big/Little support system. Bigs are brothers who pair up with a possible pledge who becomes their Little. AKPsi tries to pair Bigs and Littles that have similar interests or personalities. Kier was the Big paired with Scherting when she pledged and they have built a friendship, Kier said.
Bigs are supposed to guide their Littles through the pledge process.
“She got all the information she needed to see if this was something she would want to spend her time doing,” Kier said. “I wanted to make sure it was something she wanted to do.”
When the Littles have pledged, they become part of their Big’s family tree. As a founding member, Kier had the opportunity to start her own family tree, which is called the “Shredding Shredders” because both she and Scherting like to snowboard.
“We have a lot of leadership roles. We like our members to take initiative,” Kier said. “We want people who are going to be proactive.”
Another way AKPsi promotes brotherhood and helps its members network is by interacting with other chapters in the area. At the Western chapter’s most recent initiation there were 15 to 20 brothers from the University of Washington, Central Washington University and Washington State Univeristy in attendance, Farrell said. Western’s chapter also attends the initiations of other chapters.
Later this year, the Western Chapter, as well as other chapters from around the state, will be attending a conference in Reno, Nev., where they will have a chance to meet and listen to CEOs.
“What other college student has that?” Farrell asked.
AKPsi also puts on community service events in order to have a positive influence on the community, Kier said.
“[AKPsi is] trying to establish some things that will be long standing,” Kier said.
To get involved with AKPsi, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.