Behind closed doors at a fraternity

The movie, “Animal House” is a staple comic hit from 1978, and it might be one of my favorite comedies. I knew when I was a freshman that the stereotypical frat house depicted in the film wasn’t something that plagued Hanover’s campus, but the mystique of fraternity life has always been enough to get my interest.

What goes on behind closed doors in a fraternity? Do members dance around a cauldron in shiny robes and pass a lantern back and forth while they drone out Gregorian chants to summon demons? I can neither confirm nor deny this.

At any rate, this week is I-Week at Sigma Chi. This means our doors go closed — and stay closed — for a full week. The windows get blacked out with sheets and trash bags. Everything that happens inside remains secret to everyone but initiated members and pledges going through the process. There are parts that are not necessarily secret, however, and I’d like to share some of that with you.

I-Week is about brotherhood and introspection. Naturally, the best way to build brotherhood is to cram a bunch of people together for a week and see what happens. If we make it through the week, and no one gets on anyone else’s nerves to the point of murder, mission accomplished! I-Week has a unique ability to bring everyone closer together.

Sadness sweeps over Hanover's campus as the Sigma Chi house closes!
Sadness sweeps over Hanover’s campus as the Sigma Chi house closes!

Some of our time inside is spent doing activities of a ritual-esque nature that I’m not at liberty to share, but in the meantime, we carry about our business almost like it was a normal week.

When we aren’t focusing on the more esoteric side of things we are either doing homework or hanging out. Euchre becomes a favorite as soon as I-Week hits, and by the end of the week, we all have a pretty good idea who the best players in the house are.

Having all the windows and doors blacked out to keep the outside world at bay can get pretty old, though. A lack of sunlight in the house doesn’t do anything to help with the cabin fever we’re all inevitably building up.

To remedy this, brothers will often go on trips to the gym or walks around campus with some of the pledges. This not only keeps people from getting stir crazy, but also allows everyone to get to know one another a little bit better.

The biggest question a lot of people have about I-Week is simply wondering what the I stands for. Initiation? Introspection? Indoctrination? No, none of these. It’s the very word, I. This week is about I. The self. If you end the week as a different person than you began, then I-Week has done its job, and you’ll be sure you know what it means to be a Sigma Chi.

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