The Frat Survives Again

Theta Chi survives to see another year, even amidst COVID-19 concerns.


Emily Lall

The house of Hamline University’s oldest fraternity, Theta Chi, stands tall on Snelling Avenue. After experiencing several difficulties accelerated by COVID-19, the frat has shown its resilience once again, returning this fall and gathering new pledges.

SJ Welch, News Reporter

Theta Chi is not your stereotypical frat. Their emphasis of brotherhood and desire for deeper community may be what is keeping them alive through these troubling times. Even Joshua Pratt-Thatcher, who became president of Theta Chi just three months before COVID-19 hit the country, states that they are, “…Not like other frats…we are really like a force for good.” 

The Knights of Beta Omicron Sigma Kappa, later to be named Theta Chi, established their house on Hamline’s campus in 1901. In those days, they were not  the only frat on campus, yet they have now outlasted the rest.

Theta Chi stresses brotherhood in all they do. When the pandemic hit back in March, the house decided to start using funds to support chapter members by buying groceries for them. 

“A lot of brothers…were struggling to feed themselves,” Pratt-Thatcher said.

This was the first of many waves of impact that COVID-19 would have on the fraternity this year. When COVID-19 halted all on-campus experiences in the spring, the fraternity stopped their programming as well. It had to delay initiation, and as pledges were sent home, it lost some along the way.

A few pledges may not seem like a lot to lose, however with a current brotherhood of seven members, every pledge is important for their survival. With a few members lost due to leave of absences from campus, Pratt-Thatcher knew that he needed to boost bids for this fall. Thus, he wanted to use “COVID as more of an opportunity.” He then honed in on the fact that Theta Chi is a “social club,” an aspect of life students are likely yearning for right now.

As with most things this year, they had to be creative in doing so. For recruitment, they worked on being visible.

When online events weren’t getting enough attention, they worked on making events happen while abiding by Hamline’s guidelines. They stressed social-distancing measures and kept a limit of 10 people for all rush week events. This pivot in programming allowed for a game of kickball and a poker night, bringing in new brothers. These new pledges have now almost doubled their size. This gave an ease of mind to Pratt-Thatcher, who seemed to not be worried about the survival of Theta Chi through these troubling times.

As the new pledges end initiation and start their season of education within their brotherhood, they will learn about how long and hard Theta Chi has fought to stay alive on campus. Then, just as the brothers before them have worked to remain alive as the other frats died off, they will be taught to do the same, even in light of this pandemic. Theta Chi has survived through WWII and so much more, and for brothers like Pratt-Thatcher, the fraternity is family. For Pratt-Thatcher it is simple, it is “something that’s bigger than me.”