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Greek Life at UMF

University of Maine at Farmington had fraternity and sorority organizations during the 1920s - 1980s. Many of the early groups were active for decades. In addition to a variety of charity fundraising and community service activities, the Greek organizations also hosted dances, musical shows, and other social events on campus.

Phi Nu Omega

The first sorority at Farmington Normal School, Phi Nu Omega, was established in the fall of 1925 as a service organization. It had an owl mascot and their colors were green and white. They exchanged their original uniform of skirts and blazers for navy blue corduroy jumpers with white blouses in 1950.

The sorority's early activities included fall and spring banquets at the Exchange Hotel in downtown Farmington, store window washing in downtown during the annual Help Week, a Halloween costume dance, Thanksgiving baskets for local families, and a Penny Drive to buy Christmas gifts for needy children in Franklin County. For many years, they made holiday tray favors for patients and sang Christmas carols at the local hospital. They also sent packages to soldiers in Vietnam.

The annual Omega Minstrel Show was a long-standing tradition until 1964, when “Minstrel” was dropped from the name and discriminatory content removed to reflect growing cultural awareness of the 1960s. As interest in sororities dwindled over the next decade, Phi Nu Omega closed its chapter at UMF in 1977.

Phi Mu Sigma

Phi Mu Sigma was formed in 1929 as the school’s second sorority and its mascot was a Scottie dog. Its original color of light blue was changed to dark green in 1950. Their new uniform was a dark green sweater with sorority letters, plain dark green skirt and tailored white blouse. They also had "Scottish" uniforms of white blouse, knee-hi socks and paid skirt with matching hat and sash, which they wore at their annual Scotch fair. In 1966, their regular uniform changed to Black Watch plaid jacket and skirt, worn with white blouse.

The sisters raised funds for worthy causes such as Hyde Home in Bath and UNICEF, contributed to the Thanksgiving baskets distributed by Home Economics students, and sold Easter Seals as part of a national campaign to fight tuberculosis. They also held an annual Silver Tea to raise funds for the Pine Tree Society camp for children. Phi Mu remained an active sorority on campus until 1974.

Lambda Epsilon

Lambda Epsilon sorority was formed in 1930. Their motto was “friendship is the golden chain that binds true friends together," their mascot was an elephant and their colors were black and white.

The Lambdas regularly held afternoon teas on the day of school dances. The teas were later replaced with an annual Sadie Hawkins Dance starting in 1949. The sorority also organized a Cabaret dance each spring.

The sorority established the Virginia Porter Lending Library in memory of the long-serving English teacher. They purchased current books and loaned them to students and faculty for a small fee. The money earned was used to purchase books for the library.

Their community service activities included hosting holiday parties for local children and working with Girl Scout troops. Like other Normal School sororities, they sold defense stamps and folded bandages for the Red Cross during the war years. In later decades, they held a talent show to raise funds for Pine Tree Society, helped with Operation Santa Claus and hosted a carnival to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy. Lambda Epsilon’s last year at UMF was 1980.

Kappa Delta Phi

In the late 1920s, two “secret clubs” for male students formed: Sigma Omicron Sigma and The Absoloms. The groups merged to become Kappa Delta Phi fraternity in 1931. Their annual events included the Kappa Minstrel Show, a Mother’s Day service, a fraternity banquet and a dance.

Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity, 1941
Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity, 1941
Mantor Library at UMF

In 1937, the fraternity purchased the old Abbott School building with funds loaned by Assistant Principal Errol Dearborn. They had the building repaired and renovated to provide housing for 50 men.

Only a few students were living in Kappa House in 1942 and the running costs had to be subsidized through donations from former Kappa members in military service. With the Kappas away at war, housemother Mrs. Alice Whitcomb was the only resident in 1943. A year later, Kappa Delta Phi was no longer an active chapter and the house temporarily closed. The house reopened in November 1945 with 13 active members and the fraternity's membership continued to grow over the next two decades.

Many of the Kappas played on the school's basketball teams and were active in other team sports as more were added to the school's roster. Several Kappa brothers also formed a band called the Hi-Phis in the late 1950s. The Kappas won the college's annual winter carnival snow sculpture contest several years in a row in the 1960s. At one point, the fraternity had an orphaned racoon as a pet, which was used as the subject in nature study classes on campus.

By 1961, the Kappa House was beyond repair. The fraternity sold it, used the proceeds to purchase land on Lincoln Street, and had a new home built in 1962-63. It included 12 student rooms, a house mother apartment, a recreation room and an infirmary.

The fraternity changed its name to Kappa Delta Chi in 1975. It remained active until the 1970s, when student interest in Greek life had begun to decline. The house was sold to the university in 1978 and the fraternity dissolved. Funds from the sale of the property went toward the construction of Abbott Park.

Alpha Chi Beta

Alpha Chi Beta sorority was formed in 1941, with the goal of contributing to the welfare of the boys of Opportunity Farm. There was no further mention of it in school yearbooks after 1942.

Pan-Hellenic Council

The Pan-Hellenic Council was formed in 1945. Its purpose was to help coordinate relationships between the sororities and included overseeing the process for pledging new members and establishing the Rushing Rules. Students interested in joining a sorority completed a form at the Dean of Women’s office to indicate their preferences. All sororities decided on candidates at the same appointed time and date, then provided their lists to the Dean. Invitations were delivered at noon the same day with pledge ribbons issued by the Dean’s office. Each sorority could decide when their ribbons would be worn.

The Council also had a song:

Sororities, sororities
Friendships made so true
Here we stand joined hand in hand
We pledge our hearts to you.

Times of stress, happiness
Working side by side
The moments we’ve shared with sisters who cared.
We’ll remember sororities.

Christmas Formal, 1965
Christmas Formal, 1965
Mantor Library at UMF

The first Pan-Hellenic formal was held on March 29, 1952, and soon became an annual tradition. The formals included a receiving line, the singing of the sororities’ songs, and music by a local band or orchestra. The council chose a theme each year and the sorority sisters collaborated to bring it to life in Alumni Gym using crepe paper streamers and other festive handmade decorations. Themes during the 1960s included Hawaiian Sunset, Midnight in Manhattan, Sophisticated Swing and Underwater Fantasy. Refreshments of punch and cookies (made by the Home Economics food classes) were served. Sorority sisters who did not attend had to pay a $1 fee.

The council prepared a Manual for Students in 1966, which included information useful for campus clubs and organizations. It covered the process for setting up a student organization, accounting for funds, use of campus spaces and equipment for events, and obtaining event refreshments from the campus food service.

Although the Pan-Hellenic Council existed until the late 1970s, a new Greek Council was formed to unify the sororities and fraternities in 1971. Its membership consisted of two representatives from each Greek organization: Phi Nu Omega, Lambda Epsilon, Delta Rho, Phi Mu Sigma, Chi Delta Phi, Kappa Delta Phi, Phi Sigma Pi and Omega Sigma Beta.

Beta Gamma / Phi Sigma Pi

The Beta Gamma fraternity formed with 34 members in 1959. Their colors were purple and gold. The fraternity focused on the teacher education profession and related career activities. It became a chapter of Phi Sigma Pi in 1961 and was named the outstanding chapter in the national organization for eight years out of nine from 1968 - 1976.

Beta had an annual musical show beginning the mid-1960s, hosted spaghetti suppers, and held dances, parties and sings each year. They also organized the annual Miss Farmington State Teachers College/UMF Pageant and worked with Delta Rho on their dance marathons.

They moved into a fraternity house on Court Street in 1971. The members lived there until the fraternity closed in 1981.

Chi Delta Phi

Chi Delta Phi sorority formed at UMF in 1969, with a bear mascot and colors of brown and camel. Their community projects included working with local Girl Scout troops and giving a Christmas party for children of the Head Start Center in Farmington. They also did a book drive for soldiers in Vietnam. During the annual Help Week, the sorority sisters picked up litter around campus. The sorority closed in 1975.

Delta Rho

Delta Rho sorority was formed in 1970, with a eagle mascot and colors of maroon and white. The members enjoyed picnics at Smalls Falls and held an annual marathon dance to raise money for Pine Tree Camp. They also had an annual Christmas party for the children of Avon Valley and volunteered time at the local hospital. Their community project in 1976 was painting the fence at Hippach Field. The sorority closed in 1981.

Omega Sigma Beta

Omega Sigma Beta fraternity formed in 1968 and lasted for six years. They hosted road races, clambakes and dances and participated in the annual winter carnival parade and snow sculpture contest.

Tau Kappa Epsilon

Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was established in 1973. The "Tau Turtles" were active in intramural sports and the fraternity raised funds for St. Jude's Charity and the Franklin Memorial Hospital. Membership had declined by 1980 and Tau Kappa was unable to raise the funds for national organization membership. The members used their funds for a big final party and donations to charities before closing.

Sources: Fraternity and sorority records and scrapbooks; Effesseness, Effesteco, Dirigo, and UMF Yearbooks; The Mirror; newspaper articles; Kappa House letters; Pan-Hellenic Council Formal Reports; Pan-Hellenic Rushing Rules; University of Maine at Farmington: A Study in Educational Change (1864-1974), Richard P. Mallett, © 1974; “Half A Century Of “Greeks” At Farmington”, Farmington First, Spring 2001.