Two Saturdays before students returned to campus for the fall semester, fraternity and sorority members gathered on Duke Place to renew the brick road’s representations of each organization’s letters.
The pavement squares are a long-standing Florida Southern tradition. More than 30 years ago, they were painted on Harvard Road and Columbia Road, as National Alumni Association president and Board of Trustees member Larry Stahl remembers.
“This wasn’t here in my day, it was down there,” Stahl said, pointing downhill, towards Dell Hall. “It’s certainly an outward, visible sign that Greek life is alive and well at Florida Southern.”
Stahl, who also serves as a chapter advisor for the Delta Delta chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha at FSC, helped organize the event. To begin planning, he spoke to Dr. Susan Freeman, the Vice President of Student Life and Mike Crawford, the Assistant Dean of Student Development.
Freeman credits Stahl for the “initial motivation” needed to get the event organized for the first time in almost nine years.
“He showed an interest in it, and we realized that it was something… that needed to be refreshed and that brings a lot of pride to our campus,” Freeman said. “It was an easy sell.”
The event began at 8 a.m. By the time it did, the campus safety office had cordoned off the road and organizers had laid masking tape borders for each pavement square. Members from the greek organizations began rolling out base paint layers immediately with rollers and brushes provided by the college.
Each organization, prior to the event, sent their chapter’s official color requests in to administration. The colors had to be to regulation according to each organization’s specs; for example, Pi Kappa Alpha’s colors are garnet and gold.
At the end of the line of squares, which crosses in front of the Publix Commons residences housing the sororities, Delta Delta Delta sorority painted their very first pavement square. Tri-Delta, as the sorority is known colloquially, was founded at Florida Southern when the current seniors were first year students, more than five years after the road’s last coat of paint.
“We’re excited to finally be on the road,” Delta Delta Delta member Emily O’Brien said. “I feel like that’s the real initiation into FSC greek life, because we have a sidewalk, and the letters on the building, but this stays here a long time.”
“There’s nothing another organization has that we don’t have at this point,” Alex Garcia, another senior Tri-Delta said. “We’re newer, but not new; we’ve established ourselves.”
Garcia and O’Brien were some of the only Tri-Deltas at the road when the event began, but they said they had started a group chat and made a plan for the square as soon as the event was announced.
“We don’t have to worry about the [old] color bleeding through,” Garcia said.
When Tri-Delta received the announcement, the sisters thought that they would be told to paint over the squares of an inactive chapter, or of a chapter who had more than one faded square. Sigma Chi had two squares, one in line with the others, and one further east on Duke Place.
Allison Manning, the Director of Student Involvement, said that Sigma Chi’s second square was painted on Duke Place when the fraternity was housed in one of the Publix Commons buildings facing Duke Place, instead of their current location, which faces Frank Lloyd Wright Way.
Manning and Stephen Bell, the Student Development Technology Coordinator, are both FSC alumni of Kappa Delta sorority and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, respectively. They remember their chapters painting the road when they were active members and students at FSC.
“It brings back memories of doing that with my new member class and sisters,” Manning said. “It’s fun to see everything brightly painted.”
Bell remembered painting Lambda Chi Alpha’s square during his sophomore and junior year as he watched Alexis Gettemy, a member of Alpha Chi Omega and sweetheart for Lambda Chi Alpha, detail their letters. Gettemy wasn’t the only member of greek life helping an organization other than her own; Theta Chi members helped a Pi Kappa Phi fill in the outline of his letters.
“What’s really good about being in any organization… for your generation, it’s a networking opportunity,” Stahl said. “It’s proven that the Greeks stay connected with each other [and] also to Florida Southern…. I’m just one of the guys.”
“Our alumni advisor passed the word on to us,” sophomore Theta Chi Nolan Smith said.
Theta Chi’s pavement square is the closest active chapter to Ingraham Avenue, which cuts right up through the center of campus. The closest pavement square overall, however, belongs to Delta Sigma Theta, a sorority that is no longer active at FSC. In the middle of the row, another bygone organization has a square: Kappa Alpha fraternity.
“They’re part of our greek community history,” Manning said. “We still have alumni of those groups that come back and it’s important for them to see that as well.”
Much of the discussion around the squares as they were being painted was around who would benefit from the new coats of paint. Greeks pointed to the optics for alumni and potential new members.
“It shows that we have an active, engaged greek life, that we take pride in our campus, and that we have a warm and welcoming area for students to come and be active in,” Freeman said.
Garcia looks forward to the day she will be able to return and see her own handiwork still on the road. Mackenzie Filling, a member of Alpha Chi Omega, described it as an event to appreciate chapter alumni by “keeping up with some of the traditions that they had.”
“It could also give the chapters an inward sense of purpose,” Stahl said.