Washington State Magazine

Winter 2009 cover

Winter 2009

In This Issue...


How We Eat Is What We Are :: In the 1960s, 24.3 percent of Americans were overweight. Now, over 60 percent of us are. Even though other countries are hot on our heels, we are still the plumpest folk in the world. Does it matter? by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Vintage food advertisements }

Paper Cuts :: Not that many years ago Washington's legislature was covered by more than 30 journalists from around the state. Now that number is eight. The Seattle Times no longer has a bureau on the east side of Lake Washington, and a print Post-Intelligencer no longer exists. Who will give us information and investigation when the papers have all gone? by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Map: Changes in Washington state newspapers: An interactive map of layoffs, closures, and re-invention of news sources in Washington state. }

Old News :: Just as several of Washington's newspapers have vanished from the landscape, librarians and volunteers are bringing our state's near-forgotten newspapers to light.

Talking Turkey :: As you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, you might like to know that turkey farming in North America has been around a lot longer than you thought. New genetic tools applied to a common turkey byproduct have given turkey afficionados a lot more to think about. by Cherie Winner

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Galleries: Heritage turkeys and Turkey Feathers }


Life After Newspapers :: It's a whole new cyberworld out there, and I'm the dinosaur dude who's trying to figure out where to go from here. by Jim Moore '78


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Photographs of Olympia Avenue, WSU's new sustainable residence hall }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Stormwater project by Spokane County Extension }


:: FIRST WORDS: Cultivated thought


:: SHORT SUBJECT: Track to the future

:: SPORTS: Doubling back

:: IN SEASON: Clams

:: LAST WORDS: Grover Krantz (1931-2002) and Clyde

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Acres of Clams }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE: Design presentations from the “Powering the Palouse” symposium }


Cover photo: Railroad tracks through the basalt cliffs at Palouse Falls State Park. Photo by David Hogan.

WSU's Greek system students kick off a celebration of a century of Greek life at Washington State. Robert Hubner


WSU's Greek system students kick off a celebration of a century of Greek life at Washington State. Robert Hubner

A century of friendships

by | © Washington State University

The 1909/1910 Chinook yearbook devoted a full page to “The Installation of the Kappa Sigma.” In the text W.M. Coulter, a founding member of the first national fraternity at Washington State College, notes that the event “marks a new epoch in the fraternal life of the College.”

Indeed, according to William Stimson’s student history of WSU, Going to Washington State, by 1918 there were seven national fraternities on campus and four national sororities, in addition to a handful of local fraternal groups. Concerned that students were spending more time on their social lives than their studies, the faculty created a committee in 1911 “to regulate student activities in the interest of better scholarship.” For his part, President Enoch Bryan appointed a dean of women to keep tabs on the behavior of young co-eds.

The dean of women didn’t last, but the Greek system certainly did.

Today there are 40 fraternity and sorority houses at WSU and 13 more fraternal organizations without houses. And the social activities of Greek members arestill a concern for college administrators. But a century after the first fraternity opened at WSU, it’s hard to imagine WSU without them.

Besides providing students places to live, the Greek organizations encourage them to be involved on campus, says Anita Cory, director of the WSU Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life. From the beginning Greek system students were active in student government. “I can’t think of a time that one of (the ASWSU officers) hasn’t been Greek,” says Cory, who has worked at WSU for 16 years.

And students who have been in a fraternity or sorority tend to stay involved with WSU long after graduation. While the Cougar Nation is made up of loyal alumni from all across campus, independents and Greeks alike, leaders of the WSU Alumni Association, the WSU Foundation, and even the WSU Board of Regents often turn out to have once been part of the Greek system. Twenty out of the 37 past presidents of the WSU Alumni Association and nearly a quarter of all WSUAA members have had Greek affiliations, for example.

“We all kinda say we had the four best years of our life here and we want to give back,” says Doug Thomas ’87, president of the Greek Alumni Association. Life in the Greek system “provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for young men and women to take on leadership roles and develop lifelong friendships,” says Thomas, who still gets together with four of his best friends from his fraternity and their families every Christmas.

Thomas and others point out that Greeks are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of gifts to the University. While they comprise somewhat less than 20 percent of WSU alumni, they contribute more than 60 percent of gifts, he says.

The list of notable WSU graduates who were also Greek is a long one, says Bob Smawley ‘52, from Edward R. Murrow to former Governor Mike Lowry and businesswoman and philanthropist Phyllis Campbell.

While members of the Greek community are proud of that legacy, their reasons for continued support focus on the future. “It holds the possibility of providing wonderful opportunities for social, intellectual,and moral growth,” says Margery Rounds Muir ’54, who served for years as an advisor to her sorority. Not everyone takes advantage of those opportunities, she adds, but the students who do will emerge from their college days more mature, more capable, and more confident of their abilities to make a difference.

Categories: Campus life, WSU students, Alumni | Tags: Greek system, Fraternity, Sorority

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