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Fraternity seeks to reopen shuttered UND chapter

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A fraternity is hoping to reopen its University of North Dakota chapter, which was shut down two years ago amid a drug scandal involving several chapter members.

Bob Wolfey, who works at Phi Delta Theta's national headquarters in Oxford, Ohio, has been in Grand Forks for the past two months recruiting new members and developing the plan to reopen the chapter, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

"We interviewed more than 200 individuals for membership," Wolfey said. "The 44 we selected have a current cumulative (grade-point average) of 3.32. They are different ages and have different majors and backgrounds. It's a very diverse group."

The fraternity suspended its Grand Forks chapter after eight members and a pledge were cited or charged with drug offenses as part of a 2011 investigation by the Grand Forks Area Narcotics Task Force.

The newly selected members are in a so-called "colony," which means it is a chapter under probation. It will remain a colony until at least fall semester of 2014, when members will seek to regain their charter from the national organization.

Wolfey said the fraternity house won't reopen for residents until next fall, but likely will be used for meetings and recruiting events during spring semester. The house has been vacant since late 2011, although local alumni have been managing the building and making some improvements, he said.

Phi Delta Theta was the first fraternal organization on UND's campus, starting as the Varsity Bachelor's Club in 1913.

Sean McClain, a senior commercial aviation student from San Diego, has been appointed as the colony president. He said hopes are to add an additional 16 members during spring semester recruitment.

"I don't want to say we had a black eye, but we had a problem in the past," McClain said. "It's a real exciting time for us. We've been given a unique opportunity to hit the ground running and rebuild a reputation of leadership and service within the community."