Defunct artistic fraternity attempts revival

By Liz Hitchcock

For many undergraduates, a sense of community and connection with fellow students is an integral part of collegiate life.

Pending approval by the Department of Student Activities, students in the art department will soon get another avenue to relate to peers through the reinstatement of Kappa Pi, the oldest art fraternity in the United States.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in something but I’ve never really been able to find something that fit me. As an art person there really isn’t a whole lot out there,” Longview junior Lacey Williams said. “I feel like we need something because I go to school and I leave school and, once I leave, there is no connection with art. I feel like if you want to be successful in the industry you need to have constant exposure to art.”

Williams, who will serve as president, and Meredith Davis, a Dallas sophomore who will serve as vice president, are heading up the efforts to bring Kappa Pi back on campus. According to newspaper clippings in the archives at the Texas Collection, the fraternity was around as early as the 1940s, but was disbanded at some point in the ’80s. Now the fraternity will keep the same chapter name, Alpha Kappa, though the request for a student organization charter has not gone through student activities.

“The art students don’t really have anything to be involved in as far as their major goes,” Williams said. “The business school has a fraternity that does a lot of things like bringing in guest speakers. I think we need that, too, since we don’t have those kind of resources.”

The art department has an archive with information regarding the Alpha Kappa chapter of Kappa Pi, including a previous constitution, which will be revised by Williams.

“The more I heard and the more I learned about it, the more excited I got about it. It seems like a really good thing to do,” said Mark Anderson, chair of the art department.

The first and foremost purpose of Alpha Kappa according to the constitution is to encourage the advancement of art among students and faculty of the university.

Besides the obvious upside for students, Anderson said the rest of the student body, the faculty and the community will benefit as well.

“It’s good for us as students to meet someone who is out there right now and knows the most up- to-date art methods and technology,” Williams said.

Press releases located in the archives of the Texas Collection described the activities that Alpha Kappa participated in, ranging from art sales and traveling print shows to homecoming floats and cultural tours of Europe.

“We have come up with some ideas for Alpha Kappa, like a wall mural downtown, guest speakers, participating in Diadeloso and [Alpha Tau Omega] bed races and art exhibits that involve having students that are in this fraternity come and show at Baylor,” Davis said.

Williams and Davis have started a Facebook group for the fraternity and Davis said she has heard enthusiasm from people on campus she has never met.

“I’m mainly excited about painting the mural and getting a group of people together,” Davis said, “especially art students. The best part about this is the camaraderie within the students.”

Williams and Davis said this new fraternity will give more opportunities to all art students.

“Not only is it an opportunity for art students to participate in fundraisers, field trips and exhibitions,” Anderson said.

“It’s also a line on their resumes. … I think it’s going to be better than a student art association because it’s got some prestige attached to it.”

The first meeting, if approved by student activities, will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Harrington House. Williams and Davis plan to have Common Grounds cater the event.