Their solution? Create a new fraternity.
“At first we had a network of friends and friends of friends. Initially we didn’t have to market very much because we knew these people really well. Now it’s just been a process of expanding that network to friends of friends of friends,” Cobb said.
In November, the duo met with Aaron Bachenheimer, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement, to express their interest in adding another social fraternity on campus to the 23 existing chapters.
Bachenheimer said it’s rare that students try to pitch a new fraternity or sorority with such a well-executed plan.
“The way I see it, the survival of fraternities on campus is a lot like capitalism. We let them start and then see how far they get. Some of them go on to be great and others flop,” Bachenheimer said.
DeHaven and Cobb had perfect timing to express their interests, because the national Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity had also recently contacted Bachenheimer about starting a chapter at UNC. Within a month of the initial meeting, DeHaven was on a flight to Indiana to participate in a national conference for the fraternity.
With the help of Alpha Sigma Phi’s National Expansion Coordinators Robbie Layman and Connor Gau, the fraternity is now an official colony at UNC, and is a recognized member of the Interfraternity Council. The colony currently has 68 members and will participate in fall rush.
“It’s been like running a small business, you have to worry about what all these individuals in your group want, what you as leadership want and how to bring those two things together,” Cobb said. “It’s taught me how to let go a little. As the group grows you have to trust people that you bring in, because no single person can be in charge.”
But the young fraternity has a six-month journey ahead of it before it is officially chartered nationally as well as within UNC. The group will have to maintain a strong GPA, hold a philanthropic event on campus and learn about the history of the fraternity, which was founded in 1845 at Yale University.
“This group has a good problem right now, they have about 70 pledges, so they need to work on collaborating the brothers and growing the brotherhood,” Layman said.
“They have a lot of benchmarks and goals and accomplishments to be awarded the title of being a chapter. They will have to show us that they can continue to grow as a fraternity and not stay stagnant.”
Now that the expansion phase is over and Layman and Gau have left, more national members are expected to come to UNC to help with the colonization process, which will entail holding elections and chapter meetings to set goals for the upcoming year.
“Everyone I have met that has expressed interest has been a true gentleman and a leader on campus. All of the guys are so involved in campus and are so eager to just dive in deeper,” Layman said.
Sophomores Ellis Dyson and Colin McDowell went to high school together in Cary, and they met DeHaven and Cobb their freshman year on the volleyball court of their dorm, where they quickly became close friends.
Dyson and McDowell, quickly jumped on the opportunity to be a part of a new fraternity on campus that would be different from many of the pre-existing groups on campus.
“We were given a really good opportunity by getting the chance to come to UNC, and this is our chance to give back,” McDowell said.
DeHaven and Cobb said they aim to create an environment of inclusivity in their new fraternity, and they don’t want to leave anyone out who can’t afford the new member dues of a fraternity at UNC — dues are $1,400 on average.
Brothers of Alpha Sigma Phi will pay a one-time fee of $700 to become a national member, and yearly dues of about $200.
Because money was a big obstacle for DeHaven when it came to joining a fraternity his freshman year, he didn’t want it to create any difficulties for any potential new members.
“It’s a more organic brotherhood than you would get than just rushing a random fraternity. To compile the separate groups of friends makes it easy to just join in. We’re just getting started but you can really feel the brotherhood,” Dyson said.