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Chi Phi, DTD, Sigma Chi, SAE, and Kappa Sigma plan clambakes

When alumni return to campus for a fun day of social activities during Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 20, those assembled will include past members of a handful of fraternities that have organized get-togethers in conjunction with alumni affairs.

Alumni of Chi Phi and Delta Tau Delta (DTD) will hold clambakes outside Pfenning Alumni Center, and those from Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), and Kappa Sigma will feast inside. (Phi Delt alumni will have a reunion that starts at the former chapter house.)

The latter three groups are regulars at Homecoming. Chi Phi and DTD alumni are new to the Homecoming scene and are gathering less than five months after holding events at Reunion Weekend.

“Chi Phi alumni participation during Reunion Weekend exceeded our expectations and the feedback received by those in attendance was very positive,” says organizer Steve Konya ’96. “More than 70 brothers and their families returned for the barbecue, ranging from the Class of 1955 through 2006. Although the age differences spanned more than 40 years, the bonds of Chi Phi and Lafayette College were felt by all.”

“Homecoming is fairly close to Reunion Weekend, but the fall weather, the timing before major holidays, and the other campus activities taking place made the decision an easy one,” he adds.

DTD organizer Tom Cannon ’79 says his group’s gathering is all about maintaining momentum from the high energy and excitement generated by many Delts, including him, who returned to campus after a very long hiatus.

“Many of our fraternity brothers were reunited after 25-plus years of no contact whatsoever,” he says. “Our ability to reconvene in October will allow us to continue the re-connection effort and perhaps make Homecoming an annual tradition — as it should be.”

Former brothers of the two fraternities are hoping the Homecoming reunions will help in their efforts to re-establish chapters on campus. In addition, Chi Phi is gearing up for a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of its Lafayette chapter house, Vallamont. (Groundbreaking for the structure began in January 1909 and it opened in spring 1910, according to the fraternity’s web site.)

To Sigma Chi organizer David Rue ’82, the annual clambake means “good food, good friends, good memories of our years at Lafayette.”

“I recall a couple of years ago that one brother, Joe Rogers ’83, brought with him some of the old scrapbooks, fraternity composite photographs, and other items for us to peruse and relive the memories,” he says.

Rue became interested in organizing a Homecoming event for Sigma Chi while having “a lot of fun” at his 25-year Reunion, where he met up with two fraternity brothers from his class. He hopes Sigma Chi also will have a get-together as part of Reunion Weekend next year.

Pfenning became a natural site for Sigma Chi’s annual gatherings when the facility opened five years ago, notes fellow organizer Ed Auble ’61.

“Fraternity life was a bonding experience. As a brother, you studied, played sports, dated, and survived initiation together,” he says. “Many of the relationships you develop are life-long. The annual reunions at Pfenning Alumni Center are an opportunity to get reacquainted and share memories. And the alumni affairs office is very accommodating in organizing the reunions.”

For many years, SAE brothers from the Class of 1962 gathered at Homecoming. Bob Kempton ’63 and Mike Dulac ’63 agreed at their 40th reunion that the tradition should be broadened to encompass all classes.

“The motivation involved in helping to organize a SAE reunion at Homecoming stemmed from seeing classmates and friends for the first time in over 40 years, the good feelings involved from that experience, and having the sense of being together with special people who helped to form the ‘characters’ that we had all become over the years,” says Dulac. “It was revealing that time almost stood still for those 40 years, and our conversations at the reunion were as easily held as if we were still back at campus as students.”

About 40 alumni and spouses attended the first SAE Homecoming event. Dulac hopes for another strong turnout in October.

“You could not possibly duplicate the feelings that you will have in getting together with such a large group of friends who have earlier shared your good times, your dreams and aspirations, your hard work, your not-so-hard work, and overall camaraderie,” he says. “And, if that is not enough, Lafayette coordinates an incredible pre-game clambake for us that is out of this world. Afterward, the football game is filled with great spirit and then [we have] a group dinner together that night.

“There is no place else in the world where you could duplicate something like this to have a great time with as many friends from a lifetime, filled with fun and terrific food. And seeing the campus and reliving memories just adds to the overall experience.”

Kappa Sigma organizer John Litz ’69 and his family try to visit campus at least once each year to see the changes and enjoy a football game.

“We got back more frequently when our older son [Damian Litz ’05] was attending Lafayette,” he says. “My wife and I enjoyed the activity of a home football game weekend at Kappa Sigma while I was a student and then as an alumnus.”

After the fraternity shut down, it became difficult to catch up with fellow Kappa Sigma alumni, notes Litz. The construction of Pfenning and its meeting rooms provided an opportunity to change that.

“It is as close as we will get to replicating the enjoyable times we experienced when Kappa Sigma was still active on campus,” he says. “I saw how much all of the participants enjoyed the first reunion and became active in subsequent ones to ensure that the enjoyable times would continue.”

“In some cases the additional attraction of a Kappa Sigma reunion might be the deciding factor in getting an alumnus and his family back to campus,” he adds. “This visit back offers the possibility of strengthening ties with the College and exposing possible future applicants to the campus.”

Kempton, Dulac, and Konya made a point of mentioning that working with Autumn Leciston Bragg ’90, associate director of alumni affairs, and other alumni affairs staff makes organizing their events much less demanding.

“Mike and I thought the planning would be difficult, but Autumn Bragg has made everything easy,” says Kempton.

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