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Spotlight Iowa City: Guiding light for frat

BY MICHELLE BORYCA | NOVEMBER 05, 2009 7:20 AM

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Most UI law students have one — or at most two — roommates.

But Cody Kiroff, a 23-year-old and the house father at Beta Theta Pi, shares his stone mansion with 20 undergraduate fraternity men. While such a setup may invite more distractions, he said he appreciates that it’s never dull.

“[Most law students] spend a lot of their time at the law library, and when they get home, they see their peers or sometimes a cat or dog,” said Kiroff, who is one of just a few house fathers on campus. “When I come home, I have a family.”

On a typical Sunday night, the chapter’s men are chatting over fried rice in the dining room or shooting pool in their well-lit entertainment room.

This particular night, Kiroff took a break from the hum of the house. The Charles City native is usually in and out, balancing law-school reading with house-father duties, such as attending chapter meetings and crunching budget numbers.

Personal ties prompted him to take the position as house father when he was accepted in the UI law program; he was actually one of the original founding fathers of Beta in the fall of 2005.

“I thought it would provide me with a great opportunity to watch the organization grow,” he said.

He also cited his former house father as motivation for his decision to pursue the post.

“He had a huge impact on my life,” Kiroff said. “I looked up to him.”

Now, he knows he has the same opportunity to affect his younger fraternity brothers.

“These young men start out at the university unsure and unprepared for their future,” he said. “It is great to have the opportunity to watch them mature into men who are leaders and who are going to be great success stories for the future.”

That passionate tone and dedication is something Tony Melchiorri, the president of Beta Theta Pi, admires in Kiroff.

“It’s really nice to have someone with an outside perspective,” the biomedical-engineering major said, lounging on a leather couch in the house’s main room.

Melchiorri, who is Kiroff’s pledge son, turns to him for encouragement and advice on issues that arise in the chapter, such as how to deal with chapter members who are not meeting grade standards.

But it’s not just the house president who turns to Kiroff. UI sophomore Jim Harris, a chemistry major, frequently picks Kiroff’s brain about his position as alumni-relations chairman.

All seriousness aside, Harris summed up Kiroff’s basic responsibility: “He lives in the house and makes sure we don’t get into any shenanigans.”

And though Kiroff tries to maintain an advisory role within the house, he can fully relate to what the young fraternity men are experiencing, given he’s only two years removed.

“I can vividly remember what it was like to pull an all-nighter before a test,” Kiroff said. “I know what it is like to have girlfriend troubles.”

His position as house father has only benefited the fraternity members.

“It’s like having an RA in the dorms,” Melchiorri said and laughed. “Except it’s a hands-off RA, so he’s not going to knock on your door and tell you to turn down your music.”


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