An Ever-Growing Greek Community
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Politics and Activism

An Ever-Growing Greek Community

Looking to Sigma Nu to take in the impressive growth of the Greek Community.

An Ever-Growing Greek Community

Ask any pundit of the UMN Greek Community if it's grown in the last couple of years and they may laugh. Such an obvious question would yield an obvious answer; of course it's grown. Like many communities across campus, the Greek community has grown leaps and bounds from what it came in as at the turn of the century.

The campus is, simply put, bigger. New apartments seemingly spring up overnight to accommodate the new enrollment numbers. Forbes Magazine lists the University of Minnesota as the number one university on the rise, and with it, more and more competition to become a Golden Gopher. A criterion to detail this growth is difficult to single out and quantifying this growth is hard, even for master analysts of the subject. We must ask ourselves, what is the telltale sign of a thriving community? How do we know something is actually improving, and not merely growing larger? More and more people are coming to the University for a reason, and, as a result, more and more people are joining the Greek community.

The outcomes are obvious, but the process isn't so clear. When looking at the big picture, maybe it's best to look toward the individual factors or the lone catalysts of growth. One of many at the forefront of this growth and excitement across the University, as well as fraternities and sororities alike, is Sigma Nu.

Sigma Nu -- or “Sigma Who?" as former President and current initiated senior, Tommy McQuillan, jokingly put it -- was the name given to the once quiet and unassuming chapter in the UMN system of fraternities and sororities. The moniker had seemed to fit the house. Just four years ago, it took the entire house, all 25 members, to effectively run recruitment events or establish relationships with sororities.

It truly was all hands on deck. McQuillan recalled the process of having the smaller numbers that the chapter currently has as a tight-knit system that often had to slate members into roles. “Everyone knew your strengths and weaknesses," he said. The profound knowledge of each member, according to McQuillan, resulted in the slating of several officer roles and a lack of competition for each position. The lack of competition meant that fewer people had to overachieve, and when true success is derived from someone else competing against you, forcing you to become better at what you do, then a lack of competition starves an organization of achieving more than originally thought possible.

Sigma Nu simply did the best it could with the numbers it had. The Greek community at the time was admittedly smaller and had fewer potential new members to draw from, so Sigma Nu was not alone in its struggles and savviness in operating with fewer bodies. The resulting smaller houses had to do more to accomplish the same feats they do today with four times the numbers.

The energized recruitment team at Sigma Nu led to the chapter's growth from 21 men to 81 in the next four years. Growth such as the one seen through Sigma Nu embodies the Greek Community as a whole. In 2011, the average fall recruitment class was far below 20 new members, even for the larger sized fraternities. Many chapters were lucky to just get a few new guys. The overall Greek system at the University of Minnesota was by far the smallest in the Big Ten when put into proportion with the total enrollment numbers on campus; the Greek Community was not necessarily at the forefront. Seniors today often recall the system as still being well oiled, but it simply wasn't as prominent.

In the fall of 2014, the last formal fall recruitment, the Greek community saw recruitment classes of, in some cases, well over 30 new members. Chapter's GPAs rose as more and more quality young men and women opted to go Greek. Attendance at Homecoming events grew in staggering numbers, and philanthropy events put on by each fraternity and sorority started raising money in the $10,000 range. The benefits were truly felt in every corner of the campus.

Sigma Nu grew alongside the community as a whole, and the recognition was felt across the national level as well. The University of Minnesota chapter saw two more “Rock Chapter" awards (the National Sigma Nu award for excellence earned) in that time, and recently won the NIC Chapter of the Year award -- the most prestigious award a fraternal chapter could receive. The “Sigma Who" jokes, the struggles to establish relationships with other chapters, and a diminished presence on campus the seniors spoke of in their time, dissolved with the manpower Sigma Nu garnered.

The change has brought about an interesting perspective from the senior live-ins. McQuillan noted that empty bedrooms once used as designated study rooms now house up to three members, all of whom have contributed to the impressive growth of the chapter. The filled home is representative, once again, of an ever-thriving community.

Impressive growth was once again felt in 2015. Newly founded chapters from just a year ago have found stability and continued success on a campus that has been beneficial and welcoming to their organizations. Chapters similar to Sigma Nu have achieved incredible feats and have donated countless time and effort into improving the community outside of their Greek community. The stereotypes have become redundant to many, as more and more people across a bustling campus have begun to see a greater purpose and cause in joining a fraternity or a sorority. The pride emitted from every chapter is infectious as indicated by the higher Greek enrollment. People want to join chapters. People want to be a part of something new and previously unavailable to them at their hometowns. People want to be Greek.

Sigma Nu is one of many success stories. As we head toward another fall recruitment season, the growth will not only be felt, but it will also be physically seen. The eager new class will once again shuffle across houses and chapters in order to find the place for them. With them, bringing in another year of hope and increased presence across the University of Minnesota. With each potential new Greek is the possibility of something additionally incredible and beneficial to the community outside their own. The Greek Community will continue to grow, without a doubt -- not only bigger, but better than ever.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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