As our school grows into its relatively new identity as an actual university, so does the proliferation of more traditional “university” things. This includes competitive sports teams, increasing numbers of programs and that most controversial of institutions: the Greek system.
According to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at UVU Facebook page, Kappa Sigma is pursuing the latter-most institution by “bringing UVU its first Full-Blown fraternity!” While you may have seen “Animal House,” I can specifically cite that, despite the stereotypes, such a portrayal is not accurate. Well, not entirely accurate.
From January 2007 to February 2008, I worked as the house director and cook for a chapter of a major national sorority on Greek Row of the University of Utah. Yes, a sorority, not a fraternity. I lived in and was responsible for the safety and supervision of the 25 or so residents of the house. House directors, more colloquially known as “house moms,” are generally older women, maternal figures that are equally adept at offering romantic advice as they are brewing a pot of coffee for late-night finals cramming.
Our house was sandwiched between several other houses in a small chunk of suburb across the street from campus proper. While there were a handful of late-night parties that migrated from the basement of the adjacent houses onto front lawns (and, in one case, the actual streets), for the most part, the grounds of my neighbors remained well-maintained and moderately reasonable hours were kept.
Danny Baranowski, the president and founder of Kappa Sigma UVU, said that it “was created as an organization that develops and strengthens leadership skills.”
Rhett V. Dalley, Kappa Sigma’s Grand Master of Ceremonies, says that the organization’s “four pillars of excellence [scholarship, fellowship, service, and leadership] … are the central focus of our organization and we don’t believe that these should be secondary to anything, especially something as trivial as partying.”
Dalley also says that Kappa Sigma’s members have donated enough service hours to claim third place as far as all other Kappa Sigma chapters nationwide. In an organization claiming 338 chapters, such a ranking is incredibly impressive and clearly denotes a dedication to community service that should alleviate a great deal of hesitation toward Kappa Sigma’s presence on campus.
However, Kappa Sigma was founded in 1869, and college life is indeed different now. While fraternities (and sororities) find their origins in service and academic purpose, perhaps the more contemporary cultural perceptions are more accurate. But Baranowski, Dalley, and the other leaders of the colony are aware of those perceptions and working hard to diffuse them for the sake of the strength of their organization.
UVU is growing. Open enrollment will probably not last forever, and as our student body grows, so, hopefully, will our prestige. Accordingly, certain aspects of college life will indeed make themselves present. Let us trust the stated purposes of Kappa Sigma and any other Greek organizations that we find in our midst, including a chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, the one official sorority at UVU. Such organizations are inherently a component of college campuses nationwide, and their cultural duration should at least earn them the benefit of the doubt.
Unless they somehow earn the dubious honor of double secret probation.