92 Women fill the Sigma Chi house in East Tennessee!

The Sigma Chi house filled with 92 women from ETSU March 14, for a meeting to establish ground rules before a weeklong competition. The competition is Sigma Chi’s annual “Derby Days” philanthropy event.

Scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m., the meeting began 37 minutes late. Catered food being picked up from East Coast Wings was cause for the delay. Country music filled the air in the backyard of 734 W Maple St., the fraternity’s house. A few women appeared to grow restless and began to request songs. Arriving on location, Jacob McNeese began immediately, spoke quickly and rushed the meeting to resume schedule. McNeese is a junior majoring in Exercise Science, the organizer and keynote speaker.

“The meeting today is to announce Derby Days, which is our annual philanthropy event to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute,” McNeese said. “I hope that they (the attendees) take from this meeting and go back and try to be the best they can for this week so that everything runs smoothly…just good clean fun to raise money for a good cause.”

The fundraising started immediately with the announcement that the catered food was not free. All attendees were asked to donate $5 for food. McNeese said the money would be put toward either, the week of events or donated to HCI.

The week of competitions were spelled out in detail and the rules for these events were explained. The sororities on campus would be competing in games, field events, collecting hats from brothers and other activities to raise money to donate for cancer research. Flag-football, a first time event, will kick things off this year on Tuesday. Involving many tests of wit, skill and might, the week is designed to be fun and challenging. The competition culminates Friday with the money totaled, donated and a winner announced.

Ryan Andes, a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, was on hand to learn more information about the upcoming week. She thought the information was received well and it was nice to get different organizations (the four sororities) participating in a neutral location.

The competition is closed to organizations other than Panhellenic Sororities. McNeese said that people could donate, vote on painted canvases and coolers, on social media, but not compete in field events and games.

“The fraternity considered opening the competition to other organizations, even men of other fraternities, in order to get more people involved,” said McNeese. “It’s something we need to fix.”

Many questions concerning fairness were raised during the planning phases and McNeese said the chapter made the decision together. That decision made was to leave the week “traditional” this year, but that things may change in the future.

Andes said, she thinks, that it would be interesting if the competition were open to other people in the community because “you would get to see outside of Greek-life.” She went on to say that it would also be a larger competition if this happens. Opening to men, however may not be necessary.

“Nobody ever thinks. Nobody ever sees the females, but we play. We can get down and dirty sometime,” Andes said.

Nicki Smith, a 20-year-old business management major, said that she had no knowledge of the meeting or competition. Seated in The Cave, with headphones in and books open, Smith went on to say she would not have competed anyway because of time conflicts. She did, however express her opinion of the competition before resuming her studies.

“It’s not fair they can have the competition on campus and not tell people outside of their community,” she said.

One member of the ETSU student body believes the meeting, at least, should have been announced and open to the ETSU community. Criminal justice major, 20-year-old Chase Bowman, said he would have “checked it out” if he had known. He went on to say, having the competition as female only, cuts down on the amount of money the fraternity could raise, “since the goal is to raise as much money as possible for cancer research.” Bowman would have, possibly, participated if competition were open he said.

“The meeting should be open to the public and announced so people can attend and know what is going on, since the competition is on campus,” Bowman said. “I would have gone to the meeting, just to see what was happening.”

McNeese is hoping to improve on the chapter’s donation of $3,000 last year. His hope is that the meeting will help clarify the rules and day-to-day events, resulting in improved donations.

“This is a very important week for me, myself and also my fraternity, because this is one time a year…we get to raise as much money as we can for cancer research,” he said. “This is a very important thing that effects almost everyone in this country.”

According to www.cancer.org, “in 2016, there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases diagnosed and 595,690 cancer deaths in the US.” The 2016 U.S. population is approximately 320 million people according to U.S. News and World Report’s website. These numbers suggest that 0.5 percent of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

The meeting concluded with another quick break down of the rules. Most left immediately afterward with a few “Derby Coaches” speaking to the sorority they were assigned.

Andes believed the meeting went well. “…Everybody seemed like they were having fun and they were eating, talking,” she said.

McNeese appeared to be in relief upon completion. He stepped away for a moment to gather his thoughts before being bombarded with individual questions. Fidgeting, darting eyes and constant referral to his notes gave McNeeses racked-nerves away. The late start caused and public speaking caused his frustration to begin with, but he concluded well.

“I think the meeting went very well,” McNeese said at the end. “There may be a few puzzled people that were in the back not paying attention, but that happens at almost anything where people are speaking.”

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