57-Year History: Traditions Old and New Help Greek Community Flourish

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Marie Bruce, “The First Lady of Mankato State”

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.”

 

 

Shining Light on the Reality of Greek Life

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Movies like Animal House and American Pie paint a fictitious picture of what it means to be in a fraternity. There is no shortage of fun in fraternities and sororities, but togas, hazing and chapter houses overflowing with empty beer bottles are traits of a fantastical Greek lifestyle.

Black robes and candles and chants might lead an uninformed citizen (like myself before this column) to think of this society as some type of witchy cult. Knowing that there was more to the story, I made a quick google search and had a chat with some members at MSU to get educated.

“We are the same as any other college kid,” said Brett Marshall, Phi Delta Theta member. “We hang out at peoples’ houses, play and watch sports, play video games and go out on the weekends. But on top of that, we like to host and coordinate events that get us involved in the community and with charities of causes we’re passionate about.”

Sports? Video games? They really do sound like any other twenty-something, so why are there so many stereotypes surrounding Greek Life?

“Most of these stereotypes exists because of movies and the media,” Marshall explained. “On the fraternity side, there’s often a connotation that we don’t treat women with respect. There’s also just the generic ‘Brad the Frat Guy’ stereotype, which is usually someone who drinks all the time, isn’t respectful and coasts through everything. The problem is the only time we get press coverage is when something bad happens, which obviously that needs to be heard, but they never cover the good things.”

Fraternity and Sorority Life’s MSU Dance Marathon had a record-breaking year as the event raised $30,000 for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. In addition, the Greek community will have raised nearly $10,000 for other charities including: Huntsman Cancer Research, Live Like Lou Foundation and CADA (Committee Against Domestic Abuse).

“Within the community, we support the CADA house downtown, which is the domestic violence shelter in Mankato,” said Taylor Zenz, Alpha Chi Omega member. “In supporting them, we make monthly donations of basic necessities, such as soap, toothpaste and deodorant for victims.”

Self-indulgence isn’t a common characteristic of the community—in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Zenz helped drive the point home by citing the four core values of Greek members:

  • Friendship
  • Leadership
  • Scholarship
  • Service

While there have been cases of illegal hazing and sexual misconduct in some fraternities and sororities throughout the country, that behavior has no place in a bona fide Greek society. After peeling away the societal misconceptions built by Hollywood and other media, I was able to see that this community’s focus is on being the best you can be through personal and communal achievement.