Every year, the large framed picture of all the fraternity’s members goes missing from Beta Theta Pi. But the members are never worried, because they know it will come back, with some additions.
Joel Livingood, the chapter’s president, said that each year a different sorority takes the fraternity’s photo, called a composite, and as a joke give a funny name to each member.
This playful practice is often a part of the sweetheart week, when fraternities hold competitions and games to choose a “sweetheart” for their house from one of the sororities. Candidates take a composite and decorate it, then bring it back, said Shannon Walsh, the president of Gamma Phi Beta. She said the practice isn’t big in her chapter.
When sweetheart week rolled around this year, the sorority had someone decorate its own composite, Walsh said.
Decorating the composites goes both ways, Walsh said. Both fraternities and sororities take each other’s composites for decoration and then return them.
The composites are valuable to the greek chapters for sentimental reasons, and can also be costly.
“There’s a lot of value in the composites and trophies, and a lot of history,” Livingood said, adding the oldest composite is from the ’60s or ’70s.
But sometimes, like this year, a chapter will seek help from the University of Minnesota’s greek life adviser if it goes missing for a long time.
This year, Alpha Tau Omega president Jon Van Keulen contacted interim greek life adviser Amelious Whyte in search of his chapter’s composite. Whyte followed up by speaking with other community leaders who suggested sending out an email to all the greek chapters. Sometimes, other items are taken as well.
“What typically happens is if things are missing from a fraternity, it is most likely to be a sorority or vice-versa,” Whyte said.
Typical things taken from chapter houses range from composites to awards, or anything that might have some sort of meaning to the chapter, Whyte said.
“I never hear of things like TVs or furniture or things like that,” he said.
The composite has been returned to Alpha Tau Omega, Van Keulen said. Usually, items do not go missing for long.
“It’s not something that happens all the time,” Whyte said.