In the Light: Karl Fries

Tom Wiley

In a community of brothers, someone has to be “the big brother.” For the Colgate chapter of Theta Chi, that someone happens to be senior Karl Fries. Fries has served as the President of Theta Chi since last October and will finish his term next month. During Fries’s year as president, his chapter won the Howard R. Alter Jr. Award for Chapter Excellence. For the award, Theta Chi had to prove its medal in the implementation of the ritual, recruitment programming, community service, campus involvement and even in keeping an up-to-date website.

“I’m the face of the fraternity on campus,” Fries said. “I work with other student groups, the administration, other Greek chapters, national and more. Then, whatever we work out I deliver back to the brothers.”

Fries recognizes the importance of this particular leadership position and embraces the things which make Greek life more than just a group of college men living together.

“It is a unique role,” Fries said. “Yes, you are a leader of your peers, but a group of peers with alumni traditions, national traditions. Tradition is important.”

Working to facilitate community within Theta Chi with events like last year’s Row for Life is an enormous part of Fries’s life at Colgate. However, other communities enter his personal circle as well. Fries has been heavily involved with Outdoor Ed since his freshman year. He has served as a staff leader for wilderness trips, led physical education classes and also helped start up Outdoor Ed’s mountain biking program. But as with Theta Chi, community is what kept Fries so dedicated to Outdoor Ed over the past four years.

“It’s a tight-knit community,” Fries said. “Everyone knows each other. It’s a good on-campus job. But it’s also a good opportunity to socialize.”

As Fries enters his senior year and as his presidency at Theta Chi draws to a close, he is beginning to wrap up his work at Colgate. In considering what his legacy here might be, Greek life inevitably becomes involved.

“Some people are worried that Colgate is at a crossroads as far as Greek life goes,” Fries said. “They will either remove it or expand it. The administration is certainly taking a hard look at what we do…Personally I think that the frats on campus are making an effort to show the positive sides of Greek life. Part of the Colgate tradition is Greek life on campus. It is what Colgate is.”

As for his more immediate legacy with Theta Chi, Fries is very clear.

“It’s been a good time. It’s had its ups and downs and I’m kind of glad to be done. But, of course, I’m glad I did it.”