The University of Utah has a longstanding tradition of decorating sorority and fraternity houses during Homecoming week. Each house participates in a friendly competition to see who can show the most school spirit by decorating their chapter house in all things related to the U. Homecoming week starts Oct. 13 and runs through the 20th. Judges for the house-decorating contest will visit each fraternity/sorority on Tuesday the 16th.
In preparation for the game against the University of Southern California Trojans, sororities and fraternities work separately to design their homes. The decorations are usually made by hand and take days to complete. In the past, the Row would often paint their lawn and hedges to show school colors and themes. It is not unusual for houses on Greek Row to go crazy with decorations during homecoming week. The goal of this competition is to see who can be the most creative and extravagant with their design. The more spirit, the better. Winners of this contest receive a trophy and small prizes.
Last year, Phi Delta Theta took home the trophy for their over-the-top handmade decorations. This included a drum and feather sign, a life-size image of Utah mascot Swoop and a lawn painted with the school’s colors.
“We like to show our school spirit and this is the best way to do that…and also it’s nice to join together as a Greek community and have a little friendly competition with one another,” said Eric Reece, Phi Delta Theta President. His chapter dedicates a lot of time and effort to the contest. Each member will participate in making signs, creating banners and painting bushes around the property. All members are expected to help with the decorating, including the pledges.
Like all the fraternities/sororities, Phi Delta Theta has a social media presence. On Facebook, the chapter has images of their 2017 contest-winning design. The President of Phi Delta Theta and his chapter are hoping to win again this year and put another trophy in their trophy case.
Only students attending the U can live on Greek Row. That is why this contest is all about school spirit. It’s a chance for Greek Row to show their appreciation and connection with its school. This contest is an important demonstration of Greek life and their love for the U.
“The reason why we are all here on Greek Row is because we go to the university, so something that we feel is very important on Greek row is to show school spirit for something that we all love. So, we decorate our houses as a friendly competition to show that we love the University of Utah, we love each other and this is our school spirit,” said Nicole Briceno, a member of the Chi Omega chapter. “Because of the University of Utah, we have had so many opportunities, like being a Chi Omega, to make our experience richer and for that we are thankful.” Her chapter is eager and ready to start decorating. Like most houses on the Row, they will probably start sometime during fall break.
Traditions are important and act as the glue that holds communities together. The earliest mentioning of this tradition goes back to 1939. During that time, fraternities and sororities would compete in a similar manner. The requirements to win the decoration contest were designs relating to homecoming and the school’s theme, the cleverness of the display’s basic idea, originality of the decoration and designs, overall construction and the use of the house in the design. It is common for the judges of these house contest to consist of students, faculty and alumni.
House decorating is not the only thing sororities and fraternities participate in. The chapters on Greek Row also attend events like parades. There, the fraternities and sororities ride on extravagant floats built by their chapter. Each float usually has a positive and encouraging message written on them. They are hard construction projects which require lots of effort and teamwork to complete.
Homecoming week is packed with all sorts of events. Each day will have something interesting for everyone. The festivities start with a scavenger hunt followed by the house decoration contest. Then, there’s the gathering of alumni who graduated 40 years ago or more, the Emeritus Alumni Reunion. Also watch for Songfest, happening Thursday evening. Finally, homecoming week will end with the Scholarship 5k and the Kids 1k.