Fraternities, sororities get students’ approval at Colorado Mesa University

Colorado Mesa University moved one step closer to welcoming fraternities and sororities Wednesday night when members of the Associated Student Government voted 20–3 to support Greek life on campus.

University administration will take that support into account and seek proposals this year from national Greek organizations to open chapters at the school, according to Colorado Mesa Student Services Vice President John Marshall. Marshall said the university will consider adding Greek life in fall 2012 or sooner if the proposed organizations meet student and university expectations.

“Any group who comes has to show a commitment to academics, a commitment to being inclusive, and a commitment to philanthropy,” Marshall said.

Colorado Mesa students already started one fraternity. The Grand Junction colony of the Kappa Sigma fraternity opened two months ago and has 29 pledges who are Colorado Mesa students. The group meets in various places on campus, but members live separately, and the group is not currently recognized by the university.

First-year Colorado Mesa student Ronin Bennett-Vonderostensacken, who started the local chapter, said the fraternity allows chapters to affiliate with a city or an institution. But members, including sophomore Aaron Tran-Swope, said they hope to gain recognition from the university soon.

“I feel like we can do more if we’re part of the school,” Tran-Swope said.

“And we’ll be taken more seriously,” added member James Wade, a fellow sophomore.

Bennett-Vonderostensacken said he was inspired to start a Kappa Sigma group because he saw how much a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs chapter of Kappa Sigma impacted the surrounding community when he was growing up in Colorado Springs. He said the group is more interested in community service than the stereotypical activities enjoyed by fraternities in movies.

The same is true of the 17 women at Colorado Mesa interested in joining a potential sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. Colorado Mesa sophomore Karringten Richardson said she is interested in starting the sorority now that student government members have given their approval to the idea of Greek life.

“We want this because it is a big part of university life and having a new family on campus. It’s not what everyone says it is. It’s not like ‘Animal House,’” she said, adding community service and maintaining a high grade-point average would be emphasized by the sorority.

Students hosted forums and sent out a survey earlier this semester to gather opinions about Greek life. Associated Student Government President Justin Kawcak said the results were mixed. Kawcak said nearly 600 students responded to the survey, and students who live on-campus were split evenly on the possibility of adding sororities and fraternities.

The seven student forums gathered 15 to 20 students each time, Kawcak said.

“The forums were mostly pro-Greek life, but there were some concerns about if fees would increase or if there would be cliques on campus or drinking issues,” he said.

Any organizations that may come to campus would have to abide by the university’s prohibition on on-campus drinking. If a fee increase is ever suggested to pay for Greek life, the student government resolution adopted Wednesday allows student senators to weigh in on that possibility.

Marshall said he wants the school to have a relationship with fraternities and sororities, unlike University of Colorado-Boulder, which is not affiliated with its students’ fraternities.

“I think we’ve pretty well decided Boulder’s relationship with fraternities is not what we’d anticipate or desire,” he said. “I’m hopeful that if we can connect with the right organizations and there’s sufficient student demand, we’ll be up and running by next fall or as soon as possible.”


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