October 29, 2012: Stillwater, Okla.—It took more than 7,500 man hours for the pairing to finish. In less than 48 hours after the judges had made their rounds, the house decoration was nothing more than a steel skeleton of what thousands had seen during the Oklahoma State Homecoming Walkaround on Oct. 19.
Each fall, Oklahoma State hosts “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration.” The weeklong celebration, which started as a carnival in 1913, offers events for the entire Cowboy family, including a children’s carnival, various student organization spirit competitions, a pep rally, a parade and of course a football game inside Boone Pickens Stadium.
Although the Beta Kappa chapter has consistently participated in different Homecoming activities each year, it had not paired with a sorority to compete for the greek sweepstakes award since 2008. When a fraternity pairs with a sorority, it has the opportunity to build a house decoration for arguably the most anticipated Homecoming tradition, Walkaround. Crowds regularly larger than 50,000 people gather on Friday night each Homecoming week to walk around the greek community to view all of the house decortications.
As chapters began hosting pairing meetings last spring semester, the chapter’s then-juniors knew 2012 was their last chance to finally experience competing in the greek sweepstakes.
“We had been talking about being involved in Homecoming [greek sweepstakes] since we were freshman and the opportunity never arose,” said Homecoming director Ben DeWalt, Oklahoma State ’09. “When our alumni gave us the green light to attempt to pair there was still a lot to overcome considering we have 17 fraternities on campus and only 12 sororities. Homecoming is such a huge part of Oklahoma State. It’s the largest and greatest in the nation and to graduate without having been a part of that would’ve left our college experience with a major hole in it.”
Homecoming directors DeWalt, Ian Ramsey, Oklahoma State ’09, Thomas Caldwell, Oklahoma State ’09, and Alex Hoppman, Oklahoma State ’11, ensured there wouldn’t be any figurative holes when they secured a pairing with Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
The directors started planning with Tri Delta directors Brinlee Griffith, Sarah Thursby, Jolyn Easterwood, and Courtney Allen in March.
Designing the house decoration was priority with the design due that month. House decorations are made with thousands of tissue paper squares pomped (pushed through with a pencil and glued) into chicken wire screens that are hung on a steel frame with multiple moving parts on the fraternity’s property. The pairing is allowed to spend $11,000 total on the house decorations.
In addition to the house decoration, directors had to plan the pairing’s entry in the sign competition on Library Lawn, a booth at the Harvest Carnival and select a team for the Football Frenzies tournament.
When school started in August, the directors and almost the entire chapter had to learn on the fly because only a couple members had been around the last time the chapter had paired.
“The learning curve other [fraternities], not only directors but all of their members, have because many have been doing homecoming every year of their college career was the biggest obstacle we had to overcome,” DeWalt said. “We had to teach everyone how to pomp, while we as directors had to learn the best way to hang screens, put the frame up and create moving parts.”
DeWalt said pairing with Tri Delta helped the chapter overcome that challenge.
“They were wonderful,” he said. “Obviously, we were inexperienced and they helped us with suggestions throughout the way. They are a great group of women and one of the largest chapters on campus in terms of number, so that also helped us get the bulk of our pomping done early.”
Members of each chapter spent 10 hours a week for six weeks either pomping or welding at Beta Kappa’s chapter house to help build the house decoration.
“It was an amazing bonding experience,” DeWalt said. “Having not done a house decoration in the past three years, we did not have many people with experience at all, so everyone from freshmen to seniors learned as we went. It was outstanding to see our chapter work as a unit to build a 20-foot-tall decoration from scratch.”
All the time spent in the pomping room not only brought the brothers closer to each other, but strengthened the bond with Tri Delta.
“I have known many Phi Taus throughout the four years I’ve been at OSU, and I am always impressed at what gentleman they are,” said Oklahoma State Tri Delta President Sara Fevurly. “I was extremely excited when I heard we were pairing with the Phi Taus for Homecoming, and they certainly came through when we were preparing the house decoration. I am so grateful we were able to spend time getting to know the Phi Taus, and I know our relationship with them will grow long past homecoming. They are some of the most outstanding gentlemen at OSU, and any sorority women that get to know them are lucky. I think it was the ideal pairing for our chapter.”
A good relationship with Tri Delta wasn’t a guarantee that the house decoration would be finished in time. So when the final pomped screen was hung, DeWalt was relieved.
“It took a while to sink in at first,” DeWalt said. “Initially, I was just relieved that we finished on time. After an hour or two though, I stood back, looked at our decoration and was proud of how we did. My goal from the start was to look at my decoration and have pride in telling people I was involved in that and when I was able to, I felt accomplished.”
DeWalt wasn’t the only one proud of what Beta Kappa and Tri Delta had accomplished. Mentions of the decoration were seen on professional golfer Rickie Fowler’s and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden’s Twitter pages.
An estimated 82,000 people attended Walkaround. More than 30 Beta Kappa alumni visited to not only see the decoration, but to see the house and meet the new undergraduates.
“Our house decoration was awesome for being back the first time,” said Kiel Werner, Oklahoma State ’01. “I think that it is very important to come to Homecoming, first off to be loyal to my chapter. I have been every year since I graduated and this comes from two things. One, when I was an active member so much of the alumni base did not come back and active members complained. Two, my father makes the trip yearly to his alma matter’s homecoming and both these trips allow a sense of reconnecting to the school outside of sports. When we went by the chapter house I was snapping photos of the composites, and e-mailing and texting them to everyone that didn’t make it back. The brothers who didn’t make it enjoyed the photos.”
Part of the Beta Kappa and Tri Delta house decoration infront of the chapter house.