Letter to the Editor

For the past 10 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to run the kitchen for the Sigma Phi Epsilon Wisconsin Alpha Chapter here at Lawrence University. My position has afforded me the opportunity to befriend many individuals from all walks of life. In my years here I have met students hailing from countries such as Pakistan, Bulgaria, Singapore, Jamaica, India, Korea, Germany and Brazil as well as all across the United States. I have a background in anthropology as well as culinary arts, so this has been a cultural experience I will cherish for life.
My position has also led me to make the acquaintance of Val Beardsley and Kari Van De Hey, both of whom are Fraternity House Food Specialists. Ms. Beardsley has been employed by the Phi Delts for the past seventeen years. Ms. Van De Hey has split her twenty-five years of service between two Lawrence fraternities: the Phi Delts, where she spent eight years, and the Beta House where she has presided over the kitchen for the past seventeen. I am proud to call both these magnificent women my friends.
It appears that the genesis of the new “student center” may mean the extinction of fraternity house kitchens and thus the gainful employment of three employees whose combined years of service total more than a half-century. I use the word “may” because there seems to be a contradiction in the information being disseminated by the university and in particular Greg Griffin.
Mr. Griffin stated in e-mails dating back as far as this past November that the university was not seeking to end the tradition of fraternity kitchens and actually wanted to see that they remained “viable.” This was good news for all those with a vested interest in maintaining that tradition. As the months have passed and the second term has progressed into the late third term we are now faced with a different reality.
When the cost of the “minimum” meal plan, which fraternities are forced to take, is added to a newly levied “surcharge,” there is precious little left. There is certainly not enough left to maintain a “viable” fraternity kitchen system unless each house adds its own hefty surcharge. This type of additional charge is beyond what many students can reasonably afford. How does that equate to a “viable” plan for fraternity kitchens?
I now truly understand the pain and trepidation felt by “mom and pop stores” when a “big box store” opens across the street and all the resources are siphoned off to the benefit of the major corporation. Perhaps this would have been less of a shock to those of us whose lives depend on the modest incomes we earn had we known sooner the obvious disparity in the definition of “viable.”
To those with the authority, I would say this: be true to your promise. Keep your word and allow the long-standing tradition of fraternity kitchens to continue.Peace and prosperity to all,
Robert Frechette
Sigma Phi Epsilon 1999-Present