by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern
Despite periods of unrest and uncertainty, Fraternity and Society Life at Minnesota State Mankato continues to evolve and preserve values as new generations take the baton.
To propel the Greek community and their initiatives into the future, members are resurrecting traditions from the past.
Mavathon, a fun-filled day of dance, games and food, was revived in 2011 after an 8-year hiatus and has been held annually ever since raising over $100,000 in charity for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
This year was state record-breaking with around $30,000 raised.
“The students at MSU, Mankato are making an investment in the children treated at Gillette, because often times they have to be seen throughout their lifetimes,” said Becky DeRosia, Development Associate for Gillette in Our Chapter: Celebrating 50 years of Leadership, Scholarship, Service and Friendship by Ashley Portra. “MSU, Mankato has not only brought back a tradition on their campus but is also giving the children at Gillette a brighter future.”
‘MSU, Mankato has not only brought back a tradition on their campus but is also giving the children at Gillette a brighter future.’
– Becky DeRosia, Gillette Children’s Speciality Healthcare
Charity events like Mavathon have been crucial to Greek societies’ success and purpose. The 50-year anniversary of Greek life at MSU was monumental because it showed that persistence in fellowship and camaraderie can keep a dream alive even through a rough patch.
With the majority of young people in the 1960s and ’70s opposed to the Vietnam War, a wall was built between some of the nation’s youth and their pro-war elders. Political movements and disagreement between students and administration during the 1970s nearly brought an end to MSU’s Greek Life as we know it today. Club members weren’t displaying their letters and mostly operated behind the scenes. With time things began to recuperate and the growth is still ongoing.
“When arriving on campus in 2007, I did not know there were fraternities and sororities,” said Erik Heller, Lambda Chi Alpha alumnus in Our Chapter: Celebrating 50 years. “Now it’s hard to go around campus without seeing Greek letters, members, events, or posters.”
On its 50th birthday in 2011, the Greek community reached 400 members for the first time with help from John Bulcock, assistant director of Student Activities for Greek Life and Off-Campus Housing. His contribution has helped to boost community size and enthusiasm with members and non-members. Bulcock’s success in growing Greek interest parallels one of his predecessors—Marie Bruce.
Bruce, “The First Lady of Mankato State,” acted as the main driving force behind Greek development and pride at MSU. As Dean of Women, she worked to gain accreditation from the American Association of University Women and established a strong interest in Greek life on campus with help from Dr. Margaret Preska and Dr. Clarence Crawford.
“In 1957, 13 men founded Alpha Beta Mu, the first social fraternity on the Mankato State College campus, under the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, service, and development of leadership and social qualities,” Portra writes in Our Chapter: Celebrating 50 years. “Originally students and administration opposed officially recognizing the group as an organization however because of their persistence and interest in community service, Alpha Beta Mu was granted recognition as MSC’s first local fraternity on campus by the Student Senate on February 4, 1959.”
Bruce’s vision for a more cohesive campus and Alpha Beta Mu’s determination to be recognized as an accredited entity paved the road for a total of 10 nationally recognized fraternities and sororities at MSU today. Tens of thousands of Mankato brothers and sisters have had the opportunity to develop leadership, friendship, scholarship and service skills with help from their peers and alums.
As Bruce said, “to be Greek is to be involved and to learn the necessity of cooperation.”