The above plaque is on the sidewalk in front of where the “Greek Row” sign once greeted visitors to SIUC’s fraternity housing. The sign is gone and, for all intents and purposes, so are the fraternity and sororities members for whom the housing was built. Delta Zeta still occupies a house, but they are the only chapter there and this is the chapter’s last semester in the house.
The plaque reads:
Southern Illinois University
Small Group Housing
Dedicated May 26, 1959
Man must belong and create if he strives for truth, for faith, and for the democratic ethic.
More info on the history of the quest for fraternity housing at SIUC can be found on the links on this page. I have often contended that placing fraternity housing in the middle of nowhere (Greek Row is not on the way to or from anything) on a campus that is chockful of first generation college students hampered any and all efforts to build the system.
I think of all the men and women on the faculty and in the community who worked ceaselessly to guide and mentor the young men and women who joined these organizations. Betty Lou Mitchell is the one who always come to mind. She was initiated into Delta Sigma Epsilon. She was a part of the process when the chapter decided not to become a part of Delta Zeta after Delta Sigma Epsilon merged with Delta Zeta. The group became Nu Delta Sigma for a year until special dispensation was given to the alumnae of Delta Sigma Epsilon to become initiated members of Alpha Gamma Delta (an interesting story also covered in my thesis available in the links on this page).
The Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta, one of the first groups to move in on the Row, was the only group to have occupied the same house during their time on the Row. The chapter house at 104 Small Group Housing is officially Hilda A. Stein Hall, named for the Zoology faculty member who was involved in the beginnings of Delta Sigma Epsilon. Professor Stein served as Delta Sigma Epsilon’s National Vice President and Editor of its magazine. She became a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and remained involved with the chapter until her death in 1985 at age 90.
All the chapter houses that were the built on Greek Row are named for the men and women who worked with the chapters. Several of the chapter houses have been demolished over the years. Currently several of the houses are empty. The former Alpha Gamma Delta and Sigma Kappa houses are unoccupied and the first floor windows are boarded. Others such as Miles Hall and Beimfohr Hall are serving other purposes.
I am disheartened that SIUC has chosen to disregard the value of a robust and well functioning fraternity system. Very few alums come back to visit a residence hall room. A chapter house can hold the accumulated memories of a chapter – the ebbs and flows of chapter life – and serve as an anchor to both the chapter and the institution at which it makes its home. When it is done correctly, it can serve the institution very well and can pay great dividends. “Man must belong and created if he strives for truth, for faith, and for the democratic ethic.”