Kappa Kappa Gamma House Tour

A tour of my sorority house, Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of New Mexico. We are the Gamma Beta chapter. This video was filmed and edited on my iPad. The photos are used by permission of the owners or are owned by me. The music is by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.

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A History of Fraternities: The University of New Mexico

Pi Kappa Alpha’s “Estufa” in 1910 on the University of New Mexico campus. The building was built originally for the Yum-Yum Boys, later known as the Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity which then became Pike.

Pi Kappa Alpha’s “Estufa” in 1910 on the University of New Mexico campus. The building was built originally for the Yum-Yum Boys, later known as the Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity which then became Pike.

In my last post, we closed with the founding of the National Panhellenic Conference, the North American Inter-Fraternity Conference and the first Multi-Cultural Greek organizations. Now, we will localize the topic and focus on Greek organizations at the University of New Mexico.

The University of New Mexico was founded in 1889 with the passage of House Bill No. 186. The bill stipulated that the university be located “at or near Albuquerque … within two miles north of railroad avenue in said town, upon a tract of good high and dry land,” which explains why UNM sits where it does.

William G. Tight was the University’s third president (1901-1909) and introduced many programs for students including fraternities and sororities. In 1903, the first fraternity and sorority both were established with Tight’s help. The first Greek organizations at UNM were the Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity (formerly the Yum-Yum Boys, or Yum Yum Society) and the Sigma Sigma Sorority (formerly the Minnehaha Social Club). UNM did not see any semblance of student government until 1908 and a representative council was not formed until about 1913.

In 1904, the first Greek social event was hosted by Sigma Sigma. They offered trolley rides to a soda fountain and to Old Town. Faculty also participated in their event. In the same year, Alpha Alpha Alpha hosted their first event which was an on-campus party that included a cake walk, games and dancing.

President Tight dreamt of UNM having adobe-style architecture across campus and around 1906-1908 taught the Yum-Yum Boys how to lay adobe bricks. They then built the Estufa which still sits on the corner of Redondo Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard. The building is used today as Pi Kappa Alpha’s chapter meeting room. There is no door handle on the outside and it is believed that there is an underground tunnel that the group uses to get inside.

In 1911, Phi Mu was installed and became the first national Greek-letter organization to have a chapter in either New Mexico or Arizona territory. In 1915, the Alpha Alpha Alpha fraternity became the national fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha. In the same year, the local fraternity Sigma Tau became Sigma Chi. The first fraternity house was also built this year for the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

In 1920, UNM’s newest leader, President David S. Hill began to see a problem with social activities taking precedence over the intellectual. Hill gathered a Committee on Conduct of Women Students that prohibited dances Sunday-Thursday, required chaperones and put in place discipline for improper dancing. Hill also began seeing hazing as a problem with fraternities using methods of physical punishment.

In 1927, more than 50 percent of students belonged to fraternities and sororities. Today, about 10 percent of students are members of Greek-letter organizations at UNM.

Next week, I will begin delving into the history of my organization, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Our Story: Kappa Kappa Gamma

The organization I have chosen is the sorority I joined in the Fall of 2010, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Kappa was founded in 1870 in Monmouth, Illinois at Monmouth College when six young women marched into the chapel at Monmouth wearing golden keys in their hair and declared themselves as the members of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Kappa’s official founding date is October 13, 1870. The word “sorority” didn’t exist at the time of its founding so it is actually a women’s fraternity. In all of our documents and correspondence, Kappa is referred to as “the fraternity,” and is never referred to as a sorority.

Kappa’s flower is the mythical Fleur-de-Lis. The flower we use as its stand-in is the iris. The Fleur-de-Lis is also one of Kappa’s symbols along with owls and keys. The fraternity’s colors are dark and light blue and its jewel is the sapphire. Our national philanthropy is Reading Is Fundamental. Kappa’s national open motto used to be “A Tradition of Leadership,” but in June 2012 was changed to “Aspire To Be.”

I chose to use Kappa Kappa Gamma for my final project because it is a big part of my life and also such a large organization with a long history. Kappa is important to me because without the help of these women I call my sisters, I would not be as successful academically or have the leadership traits that they have taught me.

In Kappa, it is impossible not to be inspired almost immediately by the women who make up this organization. Some notable Kappas are designer Kate Spade, actresses Sophia Bush and Ashley Judd, and New Mexico Lieutenant Governor, Diane Denish.

I want readers to learn more about Greek Life in general, but to see what Kappa Kappa Gamma specifically is about. We really are an organization whose aim is to cultivate leaders and foster creativity through leadership. I held an officer position in Kappa in 2012 as Panhellenic Delegate and was given the freedom to essentially do what I wanted to with my position and my adviser supported and helped me with my endeavors. Additionally, I gained a friend in my adviser who of course is a Kappa as well but I wouldn’t have built that relationship if I wasn’t constantly encouraged to be in contact with her and communicate with her.

Kappa is not just 100 college women living in the same big house with Greek letters plastered across the front. It’s your adviser whose kids you’ll babysit on Friday nights; it’s your dance teacher who later gives you a job to help you through college; it’s a network of strong, empowered women who will be your sisters for as long as you allow them.

Albuquerque dance fest aims to build community

“The most exciting thing about partner dancing, in particular salsa dancing, is that it crosses, economic, cultural and age gaps, if you will. … Your economic background makes absolutely no difference when you’re out dancing,” Santiago Candelaria, programming chair for the Albuquerque Latin Dance Festival, said. Candelaria and others are working with Guanábana Productions and the National Hispanic Cultural Center to put on the first Albuquerque Latin Dance Festival. The festival will run Monday, Aug. 23 through Sunday, Aug. 29 and will showcase various types of dance including salsa, tango and swing dancing. There will be social events each of the seven nights of the festival and an equal number of teaching events, if not more, each morning. Styles of dance that will be taught during the morning classes includes Los Angeles style salsa, mambo or New York style salsa, Cuban style, bachacha, which is a dance style coming from the Dominican,  cha-cha classes, Argentine tango classes, flamenco and zumba. “Before all the social dancing there are classes beforehand, through the week. If you don’t have any idea how to cha cha or salsa or anything like that, if you go beforehand you’ll know how to apply them,” Kyla Donner, a UNM student doing public relations for the event said. The Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning classes will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the NHCC. The evening events will be:

  • Monday — Double Time Dance Studio
  • Tuesday — Live band in UNM Student Union Building partnered with Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity
  • Wednesday — The Library Bar and Grill, smaller live bands
  • Thursday — One Up Elevated Lounge, local band
  • Friday — Hotel Andaluz, two local bands
  • Saturday — NHCC and the Cooperage Restaurant and Lounge, Son Coma Son
  • Sunday — Salsa Baby dance venue, DJ Louis Head and smaller live band

The event is still organizing and getting bands and performers lined up. A more official schedule of events will be posted on their website, AbqLatinFest.com, on its launch date, May 20. Many of the evening social events that the festival is hosting are already on-going events in Albuquerque. Donner said “All weekday events are events that are always happening. If after the festival you decide that it’s something you really like, it’s a continual thing. Monday night at double time — that’s going to be there; that’s a constant thing. This is not just something that lasts just a week. It can be something you add into your life.”

Candelaria said the event was inspired by other similar dance festivals that happen across the country. “The model that we’re really looking at is an event called the Capital City Salsa Conference in Austin, (Texas),” Candelaria said. They plan to make the Albuquerque Latin Dance Festival an annual event.

Tickets vary in price from daily rates around $10 to $150 for a week-long pass. Tickets can be purchased online on their website and will be available at some point through Ticket Master. They can also be purchased through the NHCC. Those who want to perform or teach can e-mail IWantToPeform@abq.com and IWantToTeach@abq.com.

UNM journalism student shares post-grad plans

“The best way to meet girls is to be on crutches … If you’re on crutches, they’ll be like ‘oh man,’” Sean Gardner says after once having popped ligaments out of place while bouldering. He says he was reaching for the last hole and missed it, landing straight on his ankle.

This isn’t the first climbing-related injury Gardner has suffered. Once, while ice climbing, he had his ice axe directly in front of his face, and it slipped and hit his tooth. After he was lowered down, half of his front tooth was missing. “It could’ve gotten my eye, but luckily it got my tooth.”

Gardner is a 24-year-old print journalism major who has been at UNM for almost six years and will graduate this semester. “I’m a joke,” he says laughing. “I want to be an ill designer working at a magazine, laying out pages and stuff. My end dream would be to be a designer for a climbing magazine or an outdoors magazine.”

Gardner currently works at REI and enjoys outdoor activities. He also works five nights a week at the Daily Lobo as production manager. “I’m at the paper everyday and I also work at REI as an outdoors specialist.” Gardner says the craziest thing to happen to him at the Daily Lobo was when a drunk, homeless man came into Marron Hall one evening. “He was asking everyone in the building if we could teach him how to read. I told him to leave and Junfu (Han) told him, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t drink so much.’” Once at REI, Gardner says he was bent over mixing something when he realized someone was standing beside him. When he asked the man if he needed any help, the man replied “No, I’m just enjoying the full moon.”

Gardner says he is also in the process of applying to grad school and “beefing up” his portfolio. Schools on his list are the Pratt Institute and the New York School of Digital Arts, both in New York City, where he plans to visit for a week this summer to look at grad schools. “I’ve been there a couple times when I was little, like, 15, 14 … I can kind of work my way around the subway.”

This semester, Gardner is taking a small metal sculpture course where his first project was to make a ring. “I decided to make a ring for one of my coworkers and this class is super hard because I think I suck at metal work.” His guilty reading pleasure is the teen drama series Skins by Ali Cronin, “which is a really good book,” Gardner said.

Before going away to New York City for grad school, he will attend the National Outdoor Leadership School this summer. “I’ll be spending 30 days backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering and learning new skills all the way.”

ASUNM: The unheard voice of UNM students

David Conway is in his third year serving with Associated Students of the University of New Mexico and is currently a lobby director with the organization. “I didn’t want to get involved at all and got pulled in,” he said. His sophomore year he won an outstanding senator award which was voted on by his peers. Like many UNM students, Conway commutes to school. “Being a commuter campus makes it feel like not much a community … ASUNM needs to be the driving force to stop that.” As a senator, Conway has dealt with students either not knowing or not caring about ASUNM. “We have to find ways to build community on this campus and that’s going to fight the apathy.”

One of the biggest things that ASUNM does as an organization is deciding how to spend student fees. “The ASUNM president is in charge of the Student Fee Review Board. It makes a pretty big recommendation to the president of the University and the Board of Regents on how much student fees should be charged and how they should be allocated.” That’s only the president’s part. The rest of the administration and senators serve on many different committees that work closely with UNM administration and help make key decisions that affect students. Conway served on a selection committee for new housing which chose the group American Campus Communities who plan to build dorms on south and main campuses. Members of ASUNM also meet with students from other student-ran organizations and talk to them about what they need. Conway met with students from EcoReps, a campus organization who is trying to promote sustainability and have students in the dorms live out sustainability as an example to the entire campus. Conway said, “EcoReps pointed that are an easy fix for ASUNM (financially).” One of the biggest goals of ASUNM is to help student organizations. “Not giving back to it (the University) would be an absolute crime; I’ve learned so much.”

On the surface, it seems like there are not a lot of candidates for ASUNM positions and that by having such a small pool to draw from, it would be automatic as far as who runs. But Conway said, “It’s very competitive and I’ve seen it get more competitive as we’ve gone along and I think it’s because of the quality of leaders.” There are about 30 students running in the upcoming elections in April. “It takes a lot of time and energy and there are a lot of students who want to do it despite a lot of the hardships; that’s what I love about this University.”

When students who aren’t involved say that they don’t care about campus politics, Conway says “Neither do I. I couldn’t care less about campus politics; it’s about serving the students. The minute it’s about politics is (when you need to get out).” ASUNM  aims to be the voice of the students. “There needs to be a connection you need to be able to feel pride for your university.”