May 30, 2003

Greek Sing showcases campus fraternity life as part of alumni weekend

Campus festivities celebrating Alumni Weekend will include the Inter-Fraternity Sing, an event showcasing the dedication some former members of the Greek community hold toward their fraternities.

In the Inter-Fraternity Sing, various campus Greek organizations perform renditions of their fraternity or sorority songs, competing for awards in quality, quantity (most singers), and spirit.

The groups gather by Botany Pond and file into Hutchinson Court onto risers. After the separate performances are complete, all in attendance sing the University of Chicago alma mater while the judges deliberate. University president Don Randel will present the awards.

According to Jessie Wang-Grimm, a member of the Sing Coordinating Council (SCC), the group organizing the event, the Inter-Fraternity Sing is primarily an alumni activity. "However, the students play the central role in planning, practicing, and competing," Wang-Grimm said.

Attendance has been up at the event in recent years, due at least in part to the centennials of Phi Gamma Delta and Alpha Delta Phi. Last year, the event attracted about 1000 people.

Also, over 50 percent of the reunion has had connections to the Greek community. This fact, according to Wang-Grimm, "was the hook that led the administration and alumni association to devote time and money to this event."

The importance alumni attached to this event was best illuminated in 1998, when the University decided to review the continuance of the Sing in the wake of allegations that intoxicated young men urinated publicly near the 1997 Sing event. It eventually decided to continue the Sing.

As part of the review, Lisa Magnas, Class of '88 and her class's tenth Reunion Chair, was one of several people given a courtesy call for their opinion on the incident. She had helped found Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) here and knew that her peers, other founding sisters in AOII, would finally be able to compete in the event. (In the late '80s, sororities could perform but could not win awards). Knowing that they were looking forward to the event, Magnas was instrumental in pushing to prevent the cancellation of the Sing.

This review led the Sing to be held in facilities unacceptable to some supporters of the Sing. After the 1999 Sing, when attendance at the event was down, it was "in shambles," according to Greg Mirecki, also a member of the SCC. He helped to found this group, formalizing and organizing the alumni support for the Inter-Fraternity Sing and securing funding for both the event and the printed programs.

After the 1999 Sing the alumni association also pushed to return the Inter-Fraternity Sing to its past glory.

"The great thing about support for the Sing," said Wang-Grimm, "is that it includes both old alums and new alums."

This year the sponsors include the University bookstore, Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, and local attorney George Cahill.

The Greek alumni take great pride in doing something that represents the best of Greek life at the University of Chicago.

"This is a great event because it highlights some of the positive things that we do," Wang-Grimm said. "This event shows some of the other things that we represent."

The Inter-Fraternity Sing will take place on Saturday, June 7 at 9 p.m.