The sound of saws and drills echoed, and the smell of wet paint filled the air as Alpha Gamma Rho chapter President Kirby Schmidt walked through his fraternity’s house Friday. Schmidt has checked in on construction every two weeks since July, when a major renovation to the home began. The nearly $3.5 million project is set for completion early next month, and about 40 fraternity members will move into the new house near the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus just before spring semester begins.
Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black sorority, returned to the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College this fall after an almost six-year absence. Now, seven founding members — six from the University and one from Augsburg — want to add to the University’s multicultural greek organizations and breathe new life into the restored Twin Cities chapter, which folded in 2008 due to low membership.
When temperatures plunged as low as 10 degrees early Saturday morning, most people bundled up. But a few University of Minnesota students wore shorts and celebrated. Members of the University’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, or FIJI, arrived at the darkened gates of TCF Bank Stadium around 4 a.m. Saturday after nearly a day of running.
Although linguistics and math senior Hannah Cassel writes novels in her free time, November is special — it’s National Novel Writing Month. She’s one of many University of Minnesota students and faculty taking on the national challenge to complete a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting too old for this. I think, ‘I’m a grown-up writer. I don’t need someone to tell me what to write,’” she said, “but it’s hard to resist.”
On Friday, about 60 University of Minnesota students gathered in the Chabad house for Jewish Shabbat, which included a traditional meal and prayer. Though the Jewish student center hosts these events weekly, last week’s greek Shabbat highlighted Jewish greek organizations, which are growing in popularity on campus. At the University, three greek organizations — Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Epsilon Phi and Sigma Alpha Mu — are religiously or culturally Jewish, providing members with a strong community.
On Halloween, one University of Minnesota fraternity house will be haunted. With gravestones, fog and spider webs, Chi Psi’s University Avenue house will turn into the Haunted Lodge as part of the fraternity’s second annual philanthropy event. Fraternity members will lead horror-seeking students through Chi Psi’s darkened house, ending in the dining room, where there will be refreshments and socializing.
Elise Armani thinks society has made progress in understanding vegetarianism and veganism, but there’s still work to be done. “There’s a growing understanding of vegetarian and vegan diets, but it’s nowhere where I’d like it to be,” said Armani, a University of Minnesota art and gender, women and sexuality studies freshman.
Though University of Minnesota officials are working to increase student involvement in Greek life, not all fraternities are growing. The five smallest chapters in the University’s Interfraternity Council have experienced varying trends in membership in recent years. Some said their size has hindered recruitment efforts, while others haven’t experienced much change in membership. Phi Delta Theta is down to 13 active members this year. Recruitment Chairman Austin Miller said the challenges of being a small chapter have contributed to the decline.
After being gone nearly 80 years, the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity is returning to the University of Minnesota campus this fall. The fraternity is starting recruitment this week, rebuilding the organization from scratch. National Vice President Matt Humberger said the University chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi is the fraternity’s 17th oldest. “Anytime we have the opportunity to restart such a historic chapter of ours, it’s definitely something we’re really excited about,” he said.
The Alpha Omicron Pi Women’s Fraternity is locked in a legal battle with the owners of its University of Minnesota chapter house. The U.S. District Court for Minnesota released a preliminary ruling Sept. 23 saying AOII has no financial control of a house owned by Tau, Inc. Tau is a Minnesota- based nonprofit affiliated with the University’s chapter of AOII for housing purposes. AOII’s international office formed Tau to manage properties in Minnesota, because AOII bylaws prohibit chapters from purchasing or leasing housing.