UMich Greek Life raises record amount for charity at Winterfest

Thousands of University of Michigan students, including members of Fraternity & Sorority Life, gathered around the backyard ice rink at 700 Oxford Road on February 19 for the annual Winterfest broom tournament. The tournament was the culminating event of FSL’s philanthropic initiatives in 2022, with the participation of several chapters of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Association.

The historic Albert Lockwood fraternity house, or Sigma Nu, historically hosted the tournament, until Sigma Nu was expelled from the IFC in 2009, resulting in its removal from the house. The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity occupied the house in Sigma Nu’s absence and took over hosting Winterfest in 2019. The University rechartered Sigma Nu in October 2020 and they have, once again, taken up residence at 700 Oxford. However, there was no official Winterfest last winter due to COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Sigma Nu, this year’s Winterfest raised a record $202,213 for three charities – Autism Alliance of Michigan, The Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan and Fisher House Michigan – chosen by IFC, the Panhellenic Council and Sigma Nu. Each charity will receive one-third of the profits. Chapters that donated more money received a higher ranking in the preliminary round of the broomball tournament, which took place on February 18, the day before the main event. Each chapter has engaged in different fundraising methods.

Business sophomore Cole Marshall, president of Sigma Nu, told the Michigan Daily the process for selecting which charities to donate to for this year’s Winterfest. He said each group chose an organization that aligned with their values ​​and that they felt would benefit the most from the donation.

“The IFC, as a collective, chose a beneficiary to whom one-third of the proceeds would go, (Sigma Nu) chose one beneficiary to whom one-third of the proceeds would go, and then (the Panhellenic Council) chose another beneficiary who received a of the product,” Marshall said. “There’s been collaboration and discussions about values ​​and where we think we can create the greatest impact with these donations.”

Sophomore engineering student Josh Strand, president of philanthropy for Sigma Nu, said FSL members were excited to return after not being able to come together for Winterfest in 2021. He said chapters from FSL had been working to support safe social events this year so students can meet others as campus organizations return to in-person operations.

“We’ve taken a lot of time to speak individually to chapters, meet individually with as many sorority and fraternity presidents as possible,” Strand said. “(Sigma Nu has) discussed with the chairman (of the Panhellenic Council) and the chairman of the IFC individually about everything – our risk plan and any questions they have. We tried to be as good as possible in communicating with everyone.

Broomball – a sport similar to hockey – takes place on an ice rink, but players wear sneakers instead of skates. The game also involves using sticks that look like brooms to pass a small ball around the rink and eventually shoot into a goal. Winterfest attendees wore hockey and lacrosse helmets for added protection.

To combat the often physical nature of a broom tournament, Strand said numerous measures have been taken to ensure the safety of participants and attendees at the event. An ambulance was stationed at the scene, along with 20 hired security guards and the Ann Arbor Police Department, Strand said.

Marshall added that Sigma Nu’s specific health and safety plan was also designed to help alleviate COVID-19 concerns.

“I think presenting a really strong plan lets people know that the event is going to happen … and that people will be safe at the event,” Marshall said. “Those things are really important to a lot of houses on campus and showing them the plan that (Sigma Nu) just made everyone a little more excited about the event.”

Compared to previous Winterfest tournaments, which were exclusively for the FSL community, Strand and Marshall said this year’s event was open to anyone on campus who wanted to attend.

“There are so many people in the community contributing,” Marshall said. “We just thought it was a better way to involve the whole campus community if everyone feels welcome. It’s not exclusive. Anyone can attend the event.

Strand said making the event exclusive creates an additional divide between FSL and the rest of the UM community.

“There’s no point in (the exclusivity) because we already feel like Greek Life is kind of alienated from the rest of the community,” Strand said. “I want to involve (other UM students) as much as possible.”

Sophomore engineering student Emma Smith, president of Delta Gamma sorority, participated in the broomball tournament this year. She said it was a memory she will look back on for years and shared her experience as a Delta Gamma goaltender.

“I played goalie in a game that was fun, but I didn’t have knee pads,” Smith said. “I was so bruised, but it’s okay. It was worth it (because) we won the game… Everyone was cheering you on and it was a super fun and hyped environment. The girls’ matches are all quite encouraging.

The sororities were pitted against other sororities, while the fraternities competed against other fraternities.

Sophomore kinesiology student Max Nemoy, social president of Sigma Nu, also participated in the tournament and said the atmosphere was not only fun, but also surprisingly competitive. Even though his team didn’t do their best in the tournament, Nemoy said all the money raised by FSL for charity was a bigger win.

“It was definitely a lot more involved than I thought, a lot more physical…but overall the energy was really good,” Nemoy said. “Ultimately, we did all of this for charity. It was great. Our team didn’t do very well individually (in the broomball tournament), but we raised a lot of money.

Daily News contributor Natalie Anderson contributed to this article.

Daily reporter Carlin Pendell can be reached at [email protected]

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