Moving back to The Row promises to be a new beginning for USC’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha.
Having been off 28th Street since fall 2011, Pike president Brad Barbagallo said the fraternity has been striving to maintain its brotherhood despite not having a central location.
“A lot of guys gave up what you would consider a normal college experience,” Barbagallo said on not having a common fraternity house. “It was weird rushing kids in random places off The Row.”
Pike continued to maintain a large chapter size of more than 70 brothers over the years they have been off The Row. Barbagallo says members of Pike faced challenges in organizing off-campus philanthropy events and date dashes since they did not have a central location.
“We were always trying to figure out how to get people to come out to events not on campus,” he said.
Mike Dwyer, a fifth-year senior and the head of pledge education for Pike for the past three semesters, said maintaining a Greek presence without a physical house was a group effort. Dwyer said many group activities were planned to help keep the brothers’ bond strong.
“We started a Pike Disneyland invite and did VIP events at places like the Staples Center and Club Nokia so we could maintain a social schedule in the fall, apart from football,” Dwyer said.
The recruitment process was also more difficult for Pike, according to Dwyer, because the chapter had no house on The Row.
Dwyer said members particularly wanted to show that life in Pike was different from being in other fraternities.
“What we wanted was to draw people specifically to Pike,” Dwyer said. “We really emphasized that they were pledging for the brotherhood, not just for the social events.”
Barbagallo said Pike has attempted to move back onto The Row several times since disciplinary issues lost them the privilege in the spring of 2010.
“[The disciplinary issues] definitely affected us the first year or two off The Row,” Barbagallo said. “Pike has its own style, and we still have that, but we are now a more revamped chapter and are trying to be the best men we can possibly be.”
The fraternity was disbanded in 2006 when its charter was revoked by its national council. However, the fraternity rechartered in February 2009 and has since been working to once again become a part of The Row.
Though Pike will move into the house owned by the Sigma Phi Epsilon national chapter this fall, Barbagallo said Pike had previously bid for a lease on the house where Sigma Alpha Mu will be living next year as well as for the house currently occupied by Zeta Beta Tau.
When the Cal Beta chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon lost its charter from its national organization in February, Pike was able to vie for their house on The Row.
Barbagallo said Pike’s national alumni housing committees negotiated the lease with the Sig Ep national organization, which owns the house at 700 W. 28th St. He said that the bidding process with Sig Ep’s leaders was a positive experience.
“Pike appreciates all the work that the [national organization of] Sig Ep did in terms of helping us do the transition,” Barbagallo said. “Our sympathies go to Sig Ep because we know what it’s like not to have a house.”
Dwyer said Pike expects a larger pledge class in the coming fall and that the house on The Row will go a long way in accommodating the new members.
Barbagallo said he hopes the fraternity’s brotherhood will help Pike be stronger once it returns next semester.
“Through our years off The Row we were able to identify our brotherhood more than we ever were able to before,” Barbagallo said. “We are relieved and excited, and we feel really privileged because of how much hard work we put in to get this to work out.”