Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Theta Chi fraternity hosts barbecue with police officers and fire fighters in order to build on community relations


(Samantha Halm/Daily Collegian)
(Samantha Halm/Daily Collegian)

In the backyard of the Theta Chi fraternity house at the University of Massachusetts, police officers, fire fighters and fraternity and sorority members exchanged greetings over hot dogs and burgers this past Saturday.

At the “Building Bridges Barbecue,” held from 1 to 4 p.m., students had the opportunity to interact with law enforcement and establish a working relationship with emergency personnel in anticipation of “Blarney Blowout” next weekend.

Daniel Schauer, a sophomore studying communications who is the vice president of health and safety at Theta Chi, said that members of his fraternity held the event partially to determine how Greek life organizations can make the Blarney Blowout as safe as possible.

“We want to make that day the safest it can be for everyone here,” Schauer said. “We just want to make their lives easier together.”

Schauer said that the barbecue was inspired by seminars that Greek life organizations at UMass hold with the Amherst Police Department, the Amherst Fire Department and the legal firm Dunn and Phillips, at which fraternity members are taught about fire safety, medical safety and student’s rights on campus.

Oriana Schneps, a marketing specialist at Dunn and Phillips, said that the law firm conceived of the idea for a barbecue, before reaching out to Theta Chi about the idea.

“There’s a lot of publicity through Greek life,” Schneps said, adding that Theta Chi helped publicize the event to other Greek life organizations on campus.

Hundreds of UMass students cycled in and out of the event throughout the day to greet and talk briefly with fire safety officials and officers in law enforcement.

Lindsay Stromgren, the assistant chief of the AFD, said that he was happy to witness positive interactions between the University’s students and town safety officials.

“I think it’s good to see an interaction such as today,” Stromgren said. “We don’t want to be in any intervening role, we’d rather be in a more social role.”

The health and safety officials present at the barbecue were not limited to town officials. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety at UMass was also present, and put on a fire safety display at the entrance of the Theta Chi backyard.

“The idea was we’d do this barbecue today just to bring everybody together,” said Fire Prevention Services Supervisor Michael Swain. “It’s a good time for everyone to get together in a non-stressful situation.”

Theta Chi President Nick Rampone, who studies legal studies and economics as a sophomore, said that the event required a significant amount of preparation.

“We’ve been planning every day since winter break,” he said. “I think it’s terrific, I think it says a lot about UMass Greek life as a whole.”

Students attending the event had heard about it through Theta Chi’s advertising within the Greek life community at UMass.

“There was a Facebook event and there were people from every Greek life organization who invited their whole chapter,” said Amanda Orton, a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority who is studying management as a senior.

Orton said she was impressed with the event, and that looking forward she wanted Greek life at UMass to host a similar event at least once a semester.

“I just talked to someone who has been on the Amherst Police Department for 27 years and he’s never seen anything like this,” she said.

Jonny Zackman, a freshman studying Middle Eastern studies who is a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, said that the barbecue could establish good relations between Greek life organizations on campus and the health and safety departments in Amherst.

“This kind of event shows in a circumstance where we need each other’s support, these kinds of events allow us to consistently have good relations,” he said.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

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    SkipFeb 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Good work guys! As a former UMass Greek, one small negative can publicly outweigh the hundreds of positives Greek Life adds to campus. Students and Emergency Personnel understanding and looking out for one another is a great way to make life easier for everyone and improve the standing of Greek Life at UMass.