Fraternity throws dry party to break greek stereotypes

by Vadim Lavrusik

.It was one big bubble bath.

Students covered in foam danced the night away Saturday at a foam party in the basement of Sigma Pi fraternity.

The foam rose to nearly 5 feet and the basement filled with soapy bubbles billowing from a foam machine. But foam wasn’t the only unique theme of this party – it was a sober party, too.

Sigma Pi fraternity opened its doors by holding an alcohol-free foam party to promote sober social events in the greek community and on campus.

Students were offered a spot on the party’s list through a Facebook group, which resulted in more than 700 reservations.

Organizers didn’t have an exact attendance figure, but an estimated 800 to 1,000 attended. The fraternity charged $5 to attend, proceeds of which will be used for future events.

Will Wojcik, member of Sigma Pi, said events such as their foam party will keep students open-minded about what greek life is all about.

“We’re trying to work to change the image of the greek community as to one that’s about having fun, not necessarily getting drunk,” Wojcik said.

The fraternity itself is not dry, and has not had a dry party for a long time, he said.

Wojcik said there is a problem with the greek community’s image on campus, he said.

“It is really missing (the) philanthropic part of greek life,” he said. “It needs to be a bigger part of what we do.”

Bryan Roeser, fraternity treasurer, said the dry party is a first step in promoting a new image of the greek community.

“A lot of people on campus think of the fraternities with a drunken frat boy (reputation),” he said. “Yeah we like to have a good time but there is so much other stuff we do, like philanthropy.”

Roeser said opening the doors to anyone is not typical of a fraternity party, but was done to allow everyone to check out a greek organization. The fraternity hopes to recruit more members, he said.

“Most people only come out here to party,” he said. “We need more sober events that encompass the entire campus.”

Although safety for the party was a concern because many who attended were not associated with fraternity members, the fraternity addressed the concerns by meeting with Steve Johnson, deputy chief of the University Police Department.

“We gave him the heads-up that we were probably going to have a lot of people at our house and (we) talked about risk management,” Roeser said.

To prevent people from slipping and falling from the foam, fraternity members added carpet to their basement to cover their slick floors and periodically had people go upstairs while they gathered excess water and dumped it outside.

The foam machine broke about 11:30 p.m., but the party continued to 2 a.m., Wojcik said.

He said they plan to host another alcohol-free foam party next month.

Although the event was dry and didn’t serve any alcohol, drinkers still attended, but were turned away if it was obvious they were drunk, Roeser said.

First-year political science and business student Chris Georgia said though the party was dry, people could just drink beforehand.

Georgia, who heard about the party through Facebook, said he doesn’t drink and the dry aspect didn’t make a difference to him.

The only thing it might change is number of people who attend the party, he said.

Journalism first-year Jenny Nelson, who was drenched in foam, said alcohol isn’t necessary for a good time.

“Parties like this are way more fun,” she said.

Nelson said she doesn’t think the greek community has an image problem.

“(This fraternity) opened their house to people and it makes others aware of their fraternity in a positive way,” she said.

Sigma Pi is not yet a chapter of their national organization and is considered a colony. To become a chapter, the fraternity needs to have 35 active members – it has 21 now – and $3,000 in the bank, among other qualifications.

Next week the Interfraternity Council will vote on whether to include Sigma Pi as an associate member of the council, which will allow them to participate in discussions but not vote, Wojcik said.