After an 18-year absence, AKL returns

By Vickie Snow

After 18 years away from NIU, a former fraternity chapter is back on campus and looking for a few good men.

Last fall, Alpha Kappa Lambda had their first formal rush. With 30 members, AKL has plenty of room for students interested in joining.

AKL was the first fraternity to be founded on the West Coast while “virtually every other fraternity began in the East,” said Keith Gilcrest, executive director of AKL’s national headquarters in Indianapolis.

In addition to breaking into the West, AKL was the first fraternity open to all students, erasing typical restrictions on race or religion, he said.

“AKL is a forerunner of many organizations who later changed their requirements,” Gilcrest noted.

AKL landed at NIU in 1962 and was initiated two years later as the 34th chapter of one of the fastest growing national fraternities, said AKL member Canto Lee.

By 1971, AKL was the largest fraternity at NIU. However, the chapter would not last much longer.

Due to the Vietnam War anti-establishment movement and AKL’s economic losses and poor planning, the fraternity left NIU in 1972, Lee said.

“The cost of managing the house was rather high since membership was down,” Gilcrest said.

Gilcrest began efforts to get AKL back on NIU’s campus in 1985. In the spring of 1990, 27 men were initiated as the founding fathers, he said.

Last summer, the fraternity acquired the former Kappa Delta sorority house, at 919 Greenbrier Rd., DeKalb, Lee said.

NIU’s chapter is still in the organizational stage, Gilcrest said. It will receive its charter when the membership reaches one more than the average NIU fraternity size or 43 members, he said.

Students have until Tuesday night when rush ends to look into this fraternity.

“If only five quality men come through, we’ll stop there,” Lee said. “If 30 quality men come through, we’ll invite them to join us.”

AKL looks for students with good grades, leadership skills and a neat appearance and who are athletic, socially mature and outgoing, Lee said.

AKL has “high academic standards” compared to most fraternities which have dropped the academic requirement, Gilcrest said, adding that AKL members must have a minimum GPA of 2.25 on a 4.0 scale.

“College isn’t just learning in class, it’s also learning to adapt to life socially,” AKL Vice President Jeff Steffen said.