Chi Omega makes its comeback official

After a semester on campus, the sorority became a chapter Saturday.

by Anne Millerbernd

Lauren Hicok beamed as her sorority’s national president pinned a diamond badge onto her dress at a ceremony this weekend.

Hicok and 108 other women revived the University of Minnesota’s newest Panhellenic chapter Saturday with the reinstallation of Chi Omega as a sorority. The chapter’s induction marks the most recent step in the University’s push to boost greek life on campus.

The sorority returned to the University as a colony this fall. It started from scratch and gained 109 members.

With the upgrade from a colony to an official chapter, Chi Omega members will be allowed to participate in the greek community in the same way as the University’s 13 other sororities.

“Finding more ways for us to be more involved with everyone else who we consider to be our greek community will be really exciting,” said Hicok, Chi Omega’s president.

Perks of being an official chapter include having a voice in the sorority’s governing entity, the Panhellenic Council, as well as being more included in the greek community’s social events, said Talia Saville, the Panhellenic Council’s president.

Before a colony can become a chapter, its members are required to participate in a community service event, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and participate regularly in various meetings, said Allison Mrasek, the national consultant for the University’s Chi Omega chapter.

Since Chi Omega arrived in the fall, it has been expected to meet those requirements and become a chapter after one semester, Mrasek said.

“This has been scheduled since we came in and colonized,” she said. “We knew [with] this group, we would kind of foster and help get them educated and initiate them after they made grades.”

The sorority recruited more than 100 members in its first semester, and Hicok said this reflects the sorority’s high national standards.

Chi Omega has more than 170 chapters nationwide, making it one of the country’s largest sororities.

Sorority members spent the past semester getting acquainted with each other and now are looking to expand connections with other sororities.

“During the colony period, we learned about each other, and it’s exciting. … Now that we’re a chapter, we can kind of go out more into the community,” sorority member Jenny Bredemeier said.

Chi Omega has a meeting space in the 17th Avenue residence hall, where some members live. The sorority doesn’t have a house or other official meeting space, but Hicok said it is looking to buy a house when something opens up.

Chi Omega first came to campus in 1921, but low membership drove the chapter away in 1984.

The sorority competed with two other chapters and earned an invitation to the University last spring. The Panhellenic Council invited Phi Mu, one of Chi Omega’s competitors, to come to campus between 2015 and 2017.

The Greek Community Strategic Task Force drafted a plan in 2012 to add greek organizations to campus. The University has the lowest greek presence of the Big Ten schools, according to the 2011 data from the task force.

The task force’s goal is to have 9 percent of women on campus participate in a greek organization by 2018.

Delta Upsilon President Jerry Weber said the new organizations are welcome on campus and he’s excited to “add more to the family.”

“Once they’re fully established … [there’s] going to be even more stuff in the community we can do,” he said. “I think it’s only going to help our community.”

Vanessa Nyarko contributed to this report.