By Lucy Choi
The Fraternity and Sorority community started at the University of Utah in the fall of 1909 when the first fraternity was chartered and established. The first sorority on campus was founded four years later, in 1913. According to the official University of Utah Greek site, today the University of Utah has 18 fraternities and sororities with over 1,600 students involved.
This article explores various activities that the fraternities and sororities of the University of Utah engaged in during 1960 and 1961.
According to the articles found in the Daily Utah Chronicle, the activities of the Greeks could be divided into three main categories: contributions to the local community, socialization between members, and sports.
To start with, the Daily Utah Chronicle reported in the November 30, 1960, issue that “Phi Sigma Kappa, Lambda Delta Sigma, Central and Wasatch Halls, and the Navy ROTC captured first place awards in the fall blood drive.” Seeing that several fraternities showed a high percentage of participation and that half of the awardees were Greek groups, the article implied that the students involved in fraternities and sororities were encouraged to participate in events that contributed to society. In addition, the University of Utah’s yearbook, Utonian, introduced a sorority that dedicated their musical talents to children by participating in a “Christmas project by the pledges, who made and decorated boxes, which were distributed to the Children’s Hospital.”
Furthermore, in terms of socialization, fraternities and sororities came up with a lot of creative and fun events for not only the Greek members but also the students on campus. The Daily Utah Chronicle’s issue published on May 3, 1961, wrote about the Songfest saying, “Nineteen Greek groups will present novelty and serious songs.” This allowed the Greek groups to “collaborate.” This was an event where the student body and the public were invited while the Greek students entertained them. From this event, the Greeks not only provided activities to get the students entertained but also a platform for the members and the students to socialize. By preparing this event, the Greek members developed strong bonds between members.
The fraternity Sigma Chi was known for holding the Melon Mess annually, according to the Daily Utah Chronicle in October 1961. Melon Mess was an event where hundreds of melons were shared with the whole student body. It also said that “each sorority pledge class is scheduled to present a skit on the Sigma Chi front porch to entertain the melon-eaters.” This event is also an example that shows the effort of fraternities and sororities in providing a platform for the students to mingle as well as to entertain themselves.
Moreover, the Greeks had a high participation rate in sports on campus. Kistler wrote, “For the fraternities, softball, basketball, fencing, tennis, ping-pong, archery, badminton, pool, golf, and touch football are available” and “for the sororities, archery, badminton, ping-pong, softball, basketball and tennis are available.” (Report of Fraternity Study Committee, p. 29) Impressively enough after going through competitive tournaments, several members from the fraternities and sororities boosted and came to a high standing. The Daily Utah Chronicle published on November 23, 1960, the article titled “Winners Named WRA Volleyball Tourney Play” saying “Kappa Kappa Gamma took their first place in this year’s WRA Volleyball Tournament” — a huge achievement. Even in the article “Kappa Sigs Stage Win” in the Daily Utah Chronicle issue of November 30, 1960, “two members of Kappa Sigma staged a repeat performance last week” to capture their win in the Intramurals tennis doubles, which they won two years in a row. This shows that many fraternities and sororities participated and competed with each other and a lot of them showed high performance.
This article discusses the engagement of University of Utah fraternities and sororities in different categories: volunteer work, socialization, and sports. Greek groups these days are holding activities such as boot camps and Greek Weeks to socialize and also are engaging in a variety of events. Because the early members of the fraternities and sororities had laid a firm foundation, current student members could inherit their spirit of passion for engagement and carry it on.
Lucy Choi graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication at the University of Utah.
“Phi Sigma Kappa’s 100% Earns Blood Drive First,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 30, 1960.
“Kappa Sigs Stage Win,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 30, 1960.
“Fraternities, Sororities Collaborate in Songfest Thursday,” Daily Utah Chronicle, May 3, 1961.
“Sigma Chi Melon Mess Open to Student Body,” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 9, 1961.
Utonian, The University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1960), p. 285.
“Winners Named WRA Volleyball Tourney Play,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 23, 1960.
Kistler, Samuel. “Results of Fraternity Study Committee, University of Utah.” Salt Lake City, Utah: The University of Utah, 1962.