Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Off-campus greek houses try to make impact, be recognized

Lack of building does not always hurt chapter
By Natalie Avon
Indiana Daily Student

What were once thought to be houses without homes are turning out to be quite the opposite: homes without houses.

Some say that a house can make or break a sorority or fraternity, but many organizations on IU's campus are lacking just that.

Sororities and fraternities alike are marking their place on campus, even without street addresses. Gamma Phi Omega, also known as G-Phi-O, a Hispanic sorority, won Chapter of the Year at the 2006 Greek Awards -- with only six members.

Similarly, Sigma Phi Epsilon, a fraternity lacking a house, also won Chapter of the Year in 2006.

Sophomore Luke Lawson, vice president of Sigma Phi Epsilon's Brother Development Committee, said he believes many off-campus organizations do not get the recognition they deserve. "We are a different type of fraternity built on a no-hazing policy, which we strictly enforce," Lawson said. "Until we get a house, none of the other houses even acknowledge us as a real fraternity." But things are changing. The SigEps have plans -- big ones.

Cale O'Bryan, SigEp's sound body chairman, is helping to organize an event much like Zeta Tau Alpha's Big Man on Campus, which raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation through a talent show.

Sigma Phi Epsilon's version will be called "Hoosier Sweetheart" and the proceeds will go to the SigEp Foundation, which benefits AIDS research."We're trying to do things the right way," O'Bryan said. "We want the best guys to contribute to the right kind of fraternity."And by attaining enough of the "best guys" -- 80 to be exact -- the SigEps will receive their house back, which is currently being loaned to Phi Kappa Sigma and will thus have an easier time fitting in with the rest of the greek community.

Other greek organizations on campus embrace their small numbers. Zenaida Olivero, academic and social chairwoman of G-Phi-O, said the small number of sisters is what makes them thrive."We count on each other just like a family," Olivero said. "The sorority is a family away from home for us. Sisterhood is one of our goals; these girls are my best friends."

Olivero's sentiment is that she enjoys having her own apartment and coming together with her sisters elsewhere. This can help prevent arguments that occur between friends when they get a little too close for comfort.

Jesse Kousen of Alpha Sigma Phi, another off-campus fraternity, agrees with Olivero's mentality. "Living in a fraternity house is kind of just like living in the dorms again," he said. "Several of us are close because we live close together."

The small numbers that usually accompany the homeless greek organizations have had an impact on the closeness of the sisters of Gamma Phi Omega, said Kimberly Roberts, the sorority's historian." It's not about the size of an organization or where they live," Roberts said. "It's about the people in those organizations and how they strive to meet goals and make a difference in the community."