Homecoming is an American tradition where high schools and universities dedicate a week to celebrating school spirit. UW-SP is no exception to the tradition.
Homecoming at UW-SP is not only focused on celebrating for current students, but also with alumni. Events for students took place October 9th to the 15th with a theme of “Pointers Go Global.” Saturday, Oct. 15 was the biggest day of events for students and alumni. The main attractions was the student organization parade followed by UW-SP’s football team playing UW-Oshkosh.
“I absolutely love coming back onto campus and seeing what all the organizations are doing.”
In-between the parade and the football game, many organizations on campus hold reunion luncheons. A large percentage of the alumni that come back to UW-SP for homecoming are sorority and fraternity members. The Greek community and atmosphere on campus right now is much different than it was 30-40 years ago making it a fun and nostalgic experience for alum.
After walking into the DUC Brewhaus where the All Greek Reunion was being held, I was amazed at how many organizations were represented. Delta Zeta, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Omega, Delta Phi Epsilon and Sigma Tau Gamma all had members visiting and reminiscing. Alpha Phi was the sorority with the most women present, given that they are also the sorority who is also most involved regularly on campus. Melanie Patterson, a UW-SP Alpha Phi alumna shared with me, “I absolutely love coming back onto campus and seeing what all of the organizations are doing. Although, I must say, the floats are not what they used to be…you kids need to be more creative!” Melanie annually visits UW-SP homecoming and Relay for life. This year she was selected as a judge for the homecoming parade.
Kristy Schwandt, an Alpha Phi from 1976-1979 shared with me the history of Alpha Phi at UW-SP, “Six girls in Nelson hall decided to form a club in 1926 and called themselves the ‘Old Maids Club’. In 1927, the organization became a sorority called Omega Mu Chi. The chapter decided to join the national sorority in spring 1964. On October 10, 1964, Omega Mu Chi became a pledge chapter of the Alpha Phi Sorority. We became the active chapter, Delta Sigma, on December 5, 1964.”
Although Alpha Phi did not have an official sorority house on campus they made sure their sisterhood was well known to other students on campus. Kristy mentioned how they kept their letters in sight, “We did not own a house. When they (Alpha Phi) first began they had a suite in the basement of Roach Hall. The university chose to use the space and the suite was closed. When I was there in 1976-1979, six of us rented a house together on Main Street. We had our sign hung outside.”
Kristy also talked about the reasoning behind the closing of the chapter, “Our international office put us on probation for low numbers. There were 3 sororities at the time. Delta Zeta, Alpha Sigma Alpha and us. We all closed at the same time. The TKE and Sig Tau Little sisters were huge. Girls were more interesting in joining them, then pledging. Our international office chose to close us.” Along with Alpha Phi, Delta Zeta and Sigma Alpha Sigma also were closed around the same time.
The fraternity little sisters were a way for women to be involved in a fraternity, but pay less dues than the full fledged men. Ashley Hintermeyer, UW-SP’s Student Greek Life Coordinator held a presentation about the history of fraternities and sororities on campus. I talked with her more to talk about the section about Little Sisters.
She told me, “Many of the sororities on campus fell to Little Sister programs, however they were shortly disbanded by the national offices of those fraternities due to the image it gave the women. Basically, their duty was to serve as hostesses for the house parties and organize service projects, so basically the work no one wanted to do.”
Despite the fall of Greek life in the 1980’s, fraternities and sororities are prospering today. There are eight organizations each with over twenty members. The recruitment numbers for the fall semester are the highest they have been in the past three years. If the trend continues there is always a possibility that Alpha Phi could recharter, and the alumna women would have an active chapter to visit, making homecoming more nostalgic and special.