Greek life comes to CMU

Director of Student Life Mitch Karsten, far left, describes to more than two dozen Colorado Mesa University students what to expect when sororities start visiting the campus during an informational meeting at the University Center on Thursday.

Colorado Mesa University’s first fraternity was sworn in last month, and the induction of its first sorority may not be far behind.

Kappa Mu, the university’s 39-member chapter of national fraternity Kappa Sigma, was sworn in Jan. 26 in Grand Junction. Although the chapter’s name contains two of the letters in CMU’s acronym and the “moo” sound in the name may seem connected to the school’s bovine mascot, the name was pure coincidence, according to Ronin Bennett-Vonderostensacken, a Colorado Mesa junior who helped found the chapter.

“It’s assigned,” he said of the name. “They go down a roster (to assign Greek letters) and we were the 375th chapter.”

John Marshall, CMU vice president for student services, called Kappa Mu’s swearing-in a “milestone” for the campus. Marshall’s office and various students have been investigating the feasibility of Greek life at Colorado Mesa for nearly two years.

“We anticipate it’s going to be a great experience because (students) are committed to doing it right,” Marshall said.

Now that the university has its first fraternity for men, the institution is looking for national sororities to bring a Greek chapter for women to Colorado Mesa. The university hosted three meetings this week for women interested in joining a sorority on campus. Students were given the opportunity at the meetings to join a core committee that will research and contact sororities they are interested in bringing to campus.

While there are currently no plans to build Greek housing, CMU spokeswoman Dana Nunn said the university plans to house Kappa Mu members on the ground floor of Elm Hall and allow sorority members to live on the dormitory’s top floor beginning in fall 2014.

In the near-term, Kappa Mu President Aaron Tran-Swope, a CMU junior, said the fraternity plans to host a rush week next week to find new pledges and continue community service work, such as fundraising for Relay for Life. Tran-Swope called the formation of Kappa Mu after an application process that lasted more than a year “a dream come true,” especially after membership waned over the summer of 2012, threatening the probability of chapter approval.

“That was a huge downer going into August of 2012. But ever since then we turned it around” and recruited enough students to meet a minimum membership requirement to become a Kappa Sigma chapter, Tran-Swope said. “We refused to fail.”

The group informally took shape in the fall of 2011 during a small meeting in Bennett-Vonderostensacken’s living room. He said he wanted to bring a Kappa Sigma chapter to CMU because he knew some Kappa Sigma members when he was growing up in Colorado Springs. Although he said there may be some concerns about “Animal House”-style hijinks, Bennett-Vonderostensacken insisted most fraternities are more focused on service than getting sauced.

“You always have those friends, those brothers. I want CMU to have that,” he said.

He also wants the university to add more fraternities.

“If it’s done correctly, it can definitely be a lot of fun to have competition,” he said.


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