By Erik Kahl & Greg Ward
“A Brotherhood cannot be described, only experienced,” was a phrase used in the slideshow that flashed images of the chapter’s events and brotherhood over the last 20 years. It stood as a broader message of the way the Beta Kappa Chapter at UW – La Crosse has chosen to define itself since re-chartering 20 years ago.
This past weekend, members of the Beta Kappa Chapter at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse convened in the western Wisconsin town that is nestled between the bluffs and Mississippi River. The reason to converge was a good one: to celebrate the 20 – year anniversary since the chapter’s re-founding in 1997. The weekend was full of events and opportunities for brothers to connect and meet.
The UW – La Crosse Alumni Association started the weekend celebration by welcoming brothers back Friday evening in the downtown district. The association held a silent auction and raffle to raise funds for chapter scholarships and served as a warm introduction to the weekend.
Saturday morning began with the alumni association annual meeting in the university’s student center. While the meeting and other brotherly activities were happening, the wife of an area alumnus offered a yoga class for the other wives, girlfriends, and guests that were in town for the occasion.
The alumni meeting was the usual business: chapter review, Headquarters update, approval of a budget, elections of officers, and a discussion on what the association could better do to support the local chapter.
The conversations started as normal, but the tone shifted into one of greater action, with a greater commitment for alumni to ‘step-up.’ The meeting then broke into small groups related to areas of chapter operations and a point person was identified to serve in an advisory role for the chapter – a new approach. Building off of the excitement of something new, the alumni brothers in town met up with the undergraduates for a cookout and kickball match. Following the activities, the alumni association facilitated a discussion with the chapter to help bridge the gap between alumni members and undergraduates.
As the evening approached, it was time for the 20th Anniversary White Rose Banquet and Formal, held at the La Crosse – Downtown Radisson on the Mississippi River. About 100 people were in attendance for the occasion, including 39th National President, Jonathan Proehl, UW – River Falls, and Board of Director Member, Jeremy Daus, UW – River Falls. President Proehl and Brother Daus had a unique connection to the chapter; both men conducted the first initiation for the chapter 20 years ago. Jonathan spoke to the group about their humble beginnings, the strength of the brotherhood that he has seen among Beta Kappa members, and also challenged the chapter to grow. Brother Chilsen, UW – La Crosse, who has served as the chapter advisor and is a past Prof. Grubbs Recipient, and Mayor of Onalaska, WI also spoke Saturday evening.
It is evident that the Betta Kappa Chapter at UW – La Crosse has flourished the last 20 years. With members attending the celebratory event, with the passion in people’s voices when speaking of their time with the chapter, and with the kind words from national leaders, it is easy to see how members of the Beta Kappa Chapter cannot describe their brotherhood; they experience it.