Feb. 2021 update

It’s been a difficult and challenging year at F&M, like it’s been everywhere else, but the men of Zeta Chapter have persevered. It’s been a while since we’ve provided an update, but I’ll try to be brief. (OK, who am I kidding?)

Current status and challenges

  • The undergrads had a shortened “J term” of remote classes for the month of Jan. They return for in-person classes in Feb.
  • In an attempt to lower the risk of the spread of Covid on campus, no sophomores were on campus in the fall 2020 semester, and no freshmen will be on campus for the spring 2021 semester. This presents obvious challenges for recruitment, which will consist of online events.
  • I am not aware of any members of Zeta Chapter who have contracted Covid, which is a relief. All on-campus students are being tested twice a week throughout the spring semester. More info on the College’s Covid plans can be found here.
  • The Alumni Corp. Exec. Board has tried to support Zeta Chapter in ensuring that formal chapter operations continue.
    • In recent years there has been an interruption in knowledge transfer from graduating members to the newer members, and we are trying to resolve this gap.
    • This includes ensuring that the chapter is meeting its obligations to National and is avoiding fines and penalties that come with not doing so.
  • Even prior to the start of the pandemic in March 2020, fraternities have faced the challenge of keeping Greek life on campus relevant when fraternity events are now much more heavily regulated and restricted than in the past.
    • In recent years, F&M has suspended the operations of Delta Sigma Phi, Chi Phi, and Phi Kappa Tau.
    • Fraternity membership is down across the board, and Zeta Chapter’s membership is in the low double digits—lower than what is needed to maintain a healthy organization in the long term.

With our help, the undergrads can attempt to turn these challenges into an opportunity for growth. Much of this opportunity lies in our ability to fund capital improvements for the Chapter House, which remains the chapter’s greatest asset for attracting new members and fostering brotherhood. But we also believe that there will be significant demand among current freshmen looking to become part of a community when they return to campus as sophomores in the fall.

Alumni Corp. financial position

As expected, the Alumni Corp. is taking a financial hit this year, since a small brotherhood and the Covid crisis prevented up from filling the house to capacity with renters.

  • We had two vacancies (in the large bedrooms traditionally used as doubles) which cost us $16,000 in lost income.
  • The Alumni Corp. has also assisted the chapter in paying down $4,000 of its past debt to National, despite our own increasing expenses and shortfall of income for the current year. We’ve also hired a consultant to advise the undergrads on remote recruitment.
  • We continue to deal with roofing and heating issues. These are expensive problems to fix.
  • Our budget for this fiscal year included a full replacement of the rubberized roof, but we have not been able to proceed with roof replacement as planned. This project will cost $25,000–$30,000.

On the positive side, while we weren’t able to conduct Phoneathon as usual in 2020, our alumni still responded to our fundraising campaign. We’ve raised $14,225 for the current fiscal year, which is less than our goal of $20,000 for the fiscal year but is the best result we’ve seen in a number of years.

We need to keep this momentum going, and we need your help more than ever.

What we need from alumni

We need your continued support to meet our current year’s goals:

  • Limit the effects of lost rental revenue.
  • Fund a partial replacement of the roof.
  • Increase the donation rate to 20 percent of our alumni base.

In addition to these objectives, the Alumni Corp. also depends on alumni donations to pay property taxes, city licenses, utilities, and other operating costs, while ensuring there is cash in the bank to account for the unexpected.

We especially want to encourage contributions from recent grads, including those who may have graduated while owing fraternity membership dues.

Please help us meet this year’s fundraising goal of $20,000. Send your contribution payable to Zeta Alumni Corp. to:

                                                                           Zeta Alumni Corp.

                                                                          c/o Brad Rosenkrantz

                                                                           73 Christopher St.

                                                                           Montclair, NJ 07042-4231

Alternatively, you can make your contribution online via PayPal through our website at www.zetaskulls.com, or via my Venmo account (@BRKrantz). (Note that PayPal takes a percentage of each contribution.)

We understand that it’s not ideal timing to be asking for donations during a pandemic that has been an economic crisis as well as a public health crisis affecting so many Americans. As always, we ask only for whatever you’re able to give, and simply that you contribute something.

Networking, communication, and alumni participation

Since we were not able to hold our in-person board meeting in October 2020, the Alumni Corp. Exec. Board members agreed to stay on in their roles for another year. But we need other volunteers who are willing to step up and help, either by running for a position on the Board or by taking on a project.

  • We’d like to find someone to champion a project to grow our alumni networking efforts and include undergrad members as well.
  • We’d like to find volunteers to take on other special projects and assist current Exec. Board members, with the goal of transitioning into that position formally via election.

If you’re interested in leading the networking effort, or if you’re interested in joining the Exec. Board, please contact me.

Finally, I want to remind you that members of Zeta Chapter are part of a brotherhood for life. A brotherhood can be a great support system through difficult times. I encourage everyone keep connected via the Alumni Corp.’s Alumni Corp. Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Anyone who has access to these pages can invite fellow Zeta Chapter alumni and undergrads to join.

It’s been a difficult year, and more challenges lay ahead. The coming months will determine whether we’re able to keep the Chapter House running, and to make the Fraternity experience available for another generation of Phi Kaps.