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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Apple Pi 'forority' -- mix of fraternity and sorority -- offers party alternative

By Rachel Christensen

December 11, 2008 | Fraternities might pull out a keg, whereas Apple Pi chooses to party alcohol free.

While Greek houses have strict initiations and rushing procedures, Apple Pi welcomes any who are interested and remains open to new membership. Greek life is often stereotyped by lewd lifestyles and unhealthy addictions; Apple Pi embraces a clean image. And just as students began to believe there was no place they could experience Greek life without feeling pressure to change their standards, Apple Pi proudly proved them wrong.

"We are the alternative to the Greeks," said Kyle Nield, one of the Apple Pi's founding fathers.

Welcome to the Apple Pi House, the yellow-brick house that sits on the corner of 700 East and 700 North and is home to Logan's first 'forority.' The house encompasses much more than nine beds, a drum set, and a macaroni self-portrait of Nield. It is also home to the idea that a student's personal values don't need to be sacrificed in order to have a social college experience.

The Apple Pi Forority has about 30 members and hopes to attract more. The founding fathers of the group came up with the idea last year, but the "officialness," as forority administrator Jake Kearns put it, didn't start until this year.

Apple Pi Chairman Christopher Barney said the idea for the forority came to him and a few of his friends as they walked down Greek Row on the way back from classes last year. Later that year one of Barney's roommates considered joining a fraternity. At the risk of losing a friend, Apple Pi residents began to argue they had their own brotherhood within the house. This sparked the idea of creating a new, unique organization based on the Greek system.

"Only we didn't want to be exclusive against females," Barney said.

Hence the birth of 'forority,' a combination of sorority and fraternity.

"Basically, we're open to all anatomy," said Kearns, self-proclaimed grand pouba of the Pi.

The forority is the founders' attempt to create a Greek-like social atmosphere without the stereotypical partying.

"Everyone thinks college is about partying," said Mitch Vaterlaus, explaining that he wanted to have a full college experience without having to sacrifice his personal values. "I want to have fun without drugs and sex."

"There's no drugs or alcohol on the premises," Kearns said, and with a teasing grin, added, "None of the founding fathers participate in such devilish activities."

The new forority lacks the strong structure of time-tested Greek houses, and the group still debates how it should organize itself.

Signatures in scrawled black marker cover a wooden paddle hanging in the house's living room. The signatures are as close as it gets to a formal membership list. The Pi is working on creating actual membership documents.

Membership in the group is loosely defined. However, by delivering an apple pie to the house, a student can ensure almost instant membership into the only forority on campus.

So far this year three eager prospects have climbed the cement stairway to the front door of the house with their own homemade apple pie. During the previous year several others also brought warm homemade pies, each overflowing with sweet-smelling apple filling, as well as a variety of other baked goods. Many more students have expressed their interest in the forority, and news of the Apple Pi's unique atmosphere is spreading throughout the neighborhood.

Apple Pi made its debut on the Web this year with its own Facebook group. The group is closed, which means Facebook users must either be invited by the group or send a request to the administrators to join. The group informs members of upcoming activities, delegates responsibilities in preparation for events and posts pictures of past events.

"The purpose of the group is to promote future activities and celebrate what we've already accomplished," Vaterlaus said.

True to Greek life, the forority is planning a rush party called a "sugar rush."

"We want everyone who is willing to live with our values to join," said Pi founder Chris Barney with his back to the house's rear window where the forority's symbol an apple encasing the mathematical sign for pi is crudely painted white by hand. "Faith, family, fun, friendship, forority," Barney listed the values, and after thinking it over for a minute or two, added, "and pie."

The Pi has already thrown four bashes this year. The first was a bonfire on Labor Day, which was limited to the residents of the house. The second event was a dance party themed "Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes" with an estimated 250 guests in attendance throughout the night. The guests crammed into the house's backyard, danced, ate and socialized. Firehouse Pizzaria hosted the third event, which entailed all you can eat pizza and a private viewing of "The Office" season premier.

The fourth event proved the forority is not just interested in creating social opportunities. The Apple Pi, like other Greek houses, wants to serve the community. The Apple Pi's organizers have formed relationships with members of Aggies for Africa, a USU student-run organization devoted to creating and raising money for charitable opportunities in Africa. The latest Apple Pi party included a food drive and a kissing booth, which raised food and money for Aggies for Africa.

Future activity ideas include an Exfoliation Celebration, an event catered to the sorority side of the group which will involve facial masks and pajamas, and a GI Joes and Rainforest Hoes party.

Above all, the Apple Pi forority's aim is to create a feeling of welcome and to extend a hand of friendship to members of the community.

"There's a sense of brotherhood," said Christian Brinton, the father figure of the group.

"And sisterhood," said Barney.

"And sisterhood," agreed Brinton. "Any 'hood,' really." His housemates laughed in approval.

The founders of the forority hope the Apple Pi House will become a place of refuge for the community. They want neighbors to stop by if they need anything - from shelter to advice. "We have a walk-in policy," Nield said. "You don't have to knock or ring the doorbell, just come in."

Referring to the swimming pool game in which one blind-folded participant tries to find the others through call and response, Kearns added, "Just be prepared to answer 'Polo' when we yell 'Marco.'"


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