Chi Chapter was founded at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 21, 1880. From The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma, 1870-1930: "According to records which have been located in other of the older chapters, the name of the Chapter was to have been Xi. This would have been consistent with the order of the Greek alphabet and doubtless was the plan. In the letter of instructions about the name, the letter of the Xi must have been very small or very light for it was not seen and X resulted. The charter did not arrive until after the first meeting so the difference was not noticed."
2,734 initiates (as of June 2018)
Minnesota Territory was created in 1849 and the university chartered by the Territorial Legislature. The population of the area, scarcely 6000, not including an estimated 5000 Chippewa and Sioux, hardly warranted this move, but the redoubtable Yankee settlers who forged Minnesota statehood were determined to establish a university second to none.
In 1856, two years before statehood, a fine building was contracted for, known as "Old Main" until it burned to the ground in 1904. In this three story building a school of sorts was conducted, but the panic of 1857, the Civil War, and the Sioux Wars took their toll. Old Main, overlooking the Falls of St. Anthony, was turned into apartments, used as a barn, and was not restored until fall, 1867, when it became a preparatory school with a faculty of three. Students had to be at least 13 years old and were required to pass exams in basic subjects. They paid $6 per term- three terms a year, $2 per term room rent, and $1 per term fuel charge. Female students had to find rooms with nearby families.
In 1869, the Collegiate Department was opened. Until 1890, when the preparatory school was phased out, both departments were served in the same building, by the same faculty. The necessity of preparing students for college while striving to establish a university directed the growth of both the university and Chi Chapter. For, when the Collegiate Department was opened, it could not deny entrance to the girls who had been preparatory students. It was common to find among Chi initiates young ladies not yet qualified for the university.
Chi Psi, the first Greek organization on campus, was established in 1874. Kappa was the second -and the first female fraternity- in 1880. Between 1881 and 1904, six more women's and seventeen men's fraternities were chartered on campus - all of which remain active. Fewer than half of the 40 fraternities and sororities established since that time have survived.
During Chi's first decade, membership ranged each year from 5 to 20. The chapter met generally every week or so in the homes of members. Periodically, attempts were made to afford and locate a suitable chapter room, but this was not finally accomplished until the winter of 1889, when a room was rented near the school. It was furnished by the girls and alumnae with low benches upholstered in Kappa blue denim, a table, hanging bookshelves, a rug, and, of course, the ubiquitous owl in the corner. The girls thought it a snug and enticing retreat. Meetings were now held weekly, alternately in the afternoons and evenings. In the afternoon, lunches were brought for a "picnic" in the room before the business meeting; evening meetings were reserved for social and literary concerns.
And what social concerns they had! Although the original bylaws specified that "literary exercises" be held at regular meetings, the record books disclaimed this. The tabularius of 1886 indicated that to be ostensibly a literary society was, in fact, very useful when it came to persuading one's parents to permit one to pledge Kappa!
In that same year the "new practice" was instituted of having each member answer roll call with a literary quotation. Throughout the early years such authors as Shakespeare, Macaulay, Hawthorne, and Browning were read aloud at meetings. In later years this pursuit gave way to the sponsoring of public lectures. In 1889, the historian wrote that the literary work was "much the same as last year...reading of light essays and reviews,-pleasant,-not too profitable, perhaps- but as much as can be done." Other comments give an insight to contemporary attitudes: "...literary exercises postponed...adjourned into a 'social'." (1886) "...The Literary (?) (God Save Them) Exercises!" (1886) "Our literary work...has been, it must be confessed, a failure;...our time has been so filled." (1889).
It was the social concerns that filled the pages of the early record books: receptions teas, musicales, rushing, initiations, and parties. In some years, when the chapter roll (or the treasury) was slim, little entertaining was undertaken. In other years, parties proliferated.
Parties resulted in "a charming mixture of school boys and young gentlemen who are full fledged - and in society - about three of this sex to every Kappa!" Obviously, young ladies of those days did not extend personal invitations to young gentlemen; rather, the entire chapter invited a "list" which included any special beaux.
The Yankees from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, who came west to become financial, milling and lumber barons, built homes for their families on a scale that is scarcely known today. It was the daughters of these men - those who did not go "East" to school- who were members of Chi, and until that magnificent type of home and living went out of style after World War I (when entertainment in private clubs took precedence) Chis always had available ballrooms for dancing, dining halls for banquets, and parlors for musicales. There was little distinction between an alumna and an active. Chis who had either been graduated or left school continued as active participants in chapter functions. It was a close, intimate society which cannot be duplicated in today's world of widening opportunity and interests. And, aside from activities provided by the fraternities and sororities, college did not include the breadth of extracurricular and social opportunity that reached its peak between 1920 and 1950. Before the turn of the century, higher education for women was a rarity and a fully coeducational university was still the exception rather than the rule.
Expenses today preclude the kinds of celebrations the girls of yesteryear held on Founders' Day. Before 1900, banquets were often held in private homes. Menus were elaborate. At Sadie Miller's in 1894, 50 to 60 were present at a catered banquet where the tables were arranged in the shape of a key. The cost was 25 cents each. The following year, 50 were seated in the Brewer's dining room. By this time, however, the chapter roll was becoming so large that it began to be necessary to feast in local hotels, and, later, in private clubs.
Considering the difficulty of transportation, it is astonishing that early Chis traveled as much as they did. Most of the girls lived or boarded in the area near the university, but at least one hardy member in the 1880s traveled several miles by horseback each day to reach the school in time for the 8 a.m. chapel service. Strong bands of sisterhood were felt between Chi and other Kappa chapters; the girls always eagerly awaited the tales of those who had returned from conventions. With the advent of football as an intercollegiate sport and more efficient train travel in the mid-1890s, chapter members began to visit each other on game weekends. In the fall of 1901, 21 Kappas from Lincoln arrived for the Nebraska-Minnesota game. They came in a private Pullman car- adorned with a white canvas banner emblazoned "Sigma of KKG." That same year, Beta Zeta members came to Minnesota and several Chis visited Eta. Always, parties honoring the visiting sisters were de rigueur.
It became customary for the chapter to entertain friends in their rooms after the football games. After the chapter house was built in 1916, these small gatherings developed into large open houses, with music, dancing and refreshment. This post-game practice was maintained generally - with the exception of the years of the two Great Wars - until the end of the 1950s.
Another traditional open house took place on New Year's Day. First held in the homes of alumnae or parents, later in the chapter house, this tradition persisted for 25 years after the turn of the century. Members of all Greek societies, the alumnae, the faculty, and special friends were usually invited to this reception. Often well over 200 arrived. It was a formal occasion, replete with orchestra, dancing, receiving line - most of which today's students would find very strange, indeed.
Another custom foreign to Chis of today was the German, or all-girl cotillion. Such occasions were usually reserved for rushing parties, for they entailed considerable preparation and planning. They took place in the ballrooms of members' homes, with music and dancing and refreshments served downstairs at intermission time. The girls spent weeks preparing favors, usually splendid tissue-paper contrivances, as gifts to their guests. The passing of the German after 1910 marked the end of an era.
Halloween parties and the Senior Picnic in the spring seem to be the only occasions that remain virtually unchanged from Chi's founding to this day. The chapter still celebrates Halloween, although the entertainment has altered in 90 years. The Senior Picnic seems not to have changed much at all, for the girls still enjoy skits, singing, baseball games, and occasional fortune-telling as their predecessors did. The picnic has customarily been held at the lake home of one of the active members, so from the earliest days, swimming and boating were enjoyed.
For 60 years - through the 1930s - an annual houseparty was the highlight of each year. During the heyday of the hosueparty (1900-1920), it became a full week's sojourn at a resort near Prior Lake. One of the cottages was even named "Fleur-de-lis," honoring Chi's annual pilgrimage. Originally, both alumnae and actives (and chaperone, of course) went together for days of hiking, baseball, tennis, boating, bathing, and fun. The girls welcomed the arrival of their beaux for the final weekend, which was capped by dancing and hilarity. Alice Trimble (de Veau) recorded in 1908: "Chi has been an entrepreneur throughout the years. In 1890, the entire community was roused to support Kappa in its sponsor ship of Locke Richardson's readings of Shakespeare- in that time quite an unprecedented undertaking for a small group of young ladies. But the astonishing profit of $80 was realized, so well-patronized was the event. In 1891, Mr. Richardson's success was repeated, and in 1894 Chi sponsored a lecture by Swami Vive Kanadi, Member of the Parliament."
In 1914, a joint alumnae-active venture, the Kappa Christmas Bazaar, netted $200 for the fund to begin a chapter house. The next year, a vaudeville was presented by the actives. This grew into a combination of the two: the Kappa Fair, with items for sale, vaudeville presentation in the afternoon, and dancing in the evening. In 1920, the fair netted $1200, but by this time it was sponsored completely by the alumnae. The vaudeville, however, continued under chapter auspices. The 1924 version of these Follies was held at the Women's Club of Minneapolis. University men supported the Kappas in the production: "Martin Koon Bovey and his choristers were deluged with cabbage and tomatoes in the first act, but the audience behaved nicely after that."
In 1916, Chi members were performing their skits before children at settlement houses, but by the mid-twenties chapter social service was assuming a more personal relationship. Chis participated in the Panhellenic-sponsored project of sewing flannel pajamas for "poor little boys and girls." The traditional Chi Christmas party became a party for children with gifts of toys, along with warm clothing collected from their families. The Depression years of the 1930s intensified these efforts: items for Christmas baskets were gathered and presented to needy families, along with gift bags of coal. Always, during these years, children were entertained at the chapter house at the Christmas party.
During both wars, Chis "pitched in" to the war effort. In 1917, favors given to rushees were items for a "Comfort Kit," and each freshman was asked to send hers to a soldier.
The chapter was asked to catalogue the cards for all nurses in Minnesota, a task which they accomplished with pride in just three weeks. They contributed to the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Fund for French war orphans; and they sewed chemises for those same orphans in the attic, which had been converted to a sewing room.
World War II brought similar emergency activities to the chapter, along with some more tangible necessities. Each girl was required to bring one cup of sugar to the house per month. Town girls were asked to eat at the house only twice weekly, due to the food shortage. Members were to bring fat and tin cans to the house for collections. Every Kappa signed up as a blood donor. Chis sold "warsages" (war stamp corsages) at the Homecoming football games.
After World War II, public awareness increased on campus, as it did across the nation. The university, itself, was bursting with new students, returning veterans, and new buildings. Organized activity reached its peak. There was Greek Week, during which all the Greek societies performed some sort of social service as well as had fun and entertainment. Homecoming activities greatly expanded, along with the university-sponsored Snow Week in the winter and Campus Carnival in the spring. "Formals," the housemother's tea, the dads' brunch and the mothers' tea were, by now, traditional. Annual chapter membership had grown during the war years to around 60. No longer were even the actives acquainted with each other in the intimate way that was possible earlier.
The chapter house was nearly 50 years old by the 1960s. Its capacity had been stretched to the limit. Strict rules of seniority determined which actives could live in. In 1962, a large house on an adjacent lot was purchased and remodeled for use as an annex, so that nearly half the chapter could be housed in the two buildings.
In the late 1960s, came the unrest caused by the Vietnam conflict and the drastically changing attitudes of students. This affected Chi, as it did the entire university community. Many students preferred to share an apartment off-campus than to live under the rules of the chapter house. It became difficult for the chapter to make ends meet financially. Not only had the influence of sororities and fraternities on the campus waned almost to the zero point over the past ten years, but those actives who remained faithful seemed to wish to conceal their loyalty. Keys were no longer worn as badges of honor and chapter rules were stretched in order to keep the chapter alive. Alumnae, puzzled and distressed by the turn of events, watched and waited while other sororities were forced to rent their rooms to non-members - or disband altogether. There simply were not enough interested girls on the campus of 40,000 students to sustain 20 sororities. By 1972 only 14 remained.
Two years later, however, the tide turned. More quickly than the decline came the beginnings of a "Greek Revival." The desire for the kind of university life that sororities can offer had resurged. Traditional goals of friendship, unity and loyalty within the Fraternity were again actively being espoused.
It would appear that the future course of Chi will be a blending of the traditional and the adaptive. Begun by a small, socially-knit group of friends forming a club on a struggling, intimate campus, Chi must now provide a compatible and congenial fellowship for a comparatively few girls on an enormous campus of 300 buildings and over 41,000 students. Perhaps the Chis of old wanted and needed to establish their place in their world - a male-dominated community in which they, as intelligent women, were demanding an equal foothold. Today the university is a community in itself: its 70,000 students, faculty and personnel nearly equal the entire population of the Twin Cities in the spring of 1880 when Chi was chartered.
It may well be that Chi's existence is more viable today than ever before. It provides a commonality of spirit, a sisterhood, in which each member is able to preserve her individuality while seeking an identity among the multitude.
Chi celebrated their centennial in 1980. During the 1980s, Chi pledge classes ranged from about 19 new members to a high of 27 new members in 1987. Chi was usually one of only 5 sororities to reach quota. There were many girls who resigned each year, however. 1987 was also a year of chapter house renovations.
Chi was involved in many philanthropic activities during the 1980s, including Toast to the Twin Cities to benefit The Children’s Museum, Kappa Krush to benefit Students Against Drunk Drivers, Halloween parties with Pi Phis to benefit the Children’s Heart Hospital, and Campus Carnival benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well as The Children’s Home Society for abused and underprivileged children. They also held activities to benefit Blaisdale YMCA. Chi has always had a strong philanthropic focus.
These weren’t totally easy years for Chi, though. 1980 - 1984 was a period of concern for scholarship, so improvement in this area was desired. GPAs were low, and Chi was placed on a Warning of Probation and eventually on Probation, and an overall improvement program was established. Chi became a Kappa Model Program, and they worked hard to improve their scholarship. Also the Greek system was not in favor with the university officials. All houses received a warning letter regarding scholarship, alcohol awareness, and finances. “Minnesota Greeks realize it is time to pull the entire Greek system together as a whole to become as positive as we have the potential to be.” Chi's efforts were rewarded in 1988 with a Removal of Probation.
New Member classes continued to be between 19 and 23 each year, and in 1990 the chapter adopted the goal of “Improve membership though respect”. They had the 3rd lowest membership totals on campus in 1993, and Lara Meinheit was brought in as a Chapter Consultant. In the mid-90s, Chi struggled with spirit and morale, but in 1997 kudos were given to a wonderful PDC, Trish Pollak. Chapter Council positions of Public Relations and Alumnae Relations were added in 1998 - 99. Chi hosted Epsilon Province Meeting in spring 1999, but the end of the 90s was a time where chapter participation was low.
Philanthropy continued to be strong at Chi. They raised funds for Special Olympics, the Rose McGill Fund, Juvenile Diabetes, and underprivileged children and the homeless. They ran clothing drives for the needy, helped raise funds for Children’s Hospital, The Leukemia Society of America, and Camp Heartland for children born with AIDS, as well as participated in the March of Dimes Walk.
Focus on scholarship was rewarded when Chi won the the Greatest Scholastic Improvement Award at the 1994 Kappa Convention and the Best Scholarship Award from the University of Minnesota. The chapter members were very involved in other campus activities, and Chi always provided great social events. 1996 brought a campus effort to increase respect for the Greek system, and 1997 was a year of lots of chapter house upgrades, including new roofs, new plumbing, paint, etc. Chi also began Monmouth Duo events with the Pi Phis. Better relations with the university prompted the President of the University of Minnesota to say that the Greek System is an important and vital part of the University of Minnesota.
Chi’s membership in the 2000s grew steadily, ranging from a very small new member class of 10 women in 2004 to a class of 56 new members in 2015! Even with the low new member numbers in 2004, Kappa was the largest sorority on campus with 79 total members for the first time since 1981! They hosted fall and spring recruitment until their numbers were up, and by 2010, they had over 100 members.
Philanthropic efforts included the KKG Foundation, Kappa Car Wash for RIF, Walk for Diabetes, Relay for Life, Light the Night Walk for Leukemia, food drives, blood drives (including 15 Chi Kappas donating blood for victims of the 9/11 tragedy), Cinderella Dress Project, Children’s Hospital, Marcy Open Homes School After School Project, and the Kappa Classic Golf Tournament as well as Breakfast at Kappa to fund the Girls Academy Pilot Program. Chi has been running a very successful Girls Academy since 2015.
Chi has received many awards and distinctions in the 2000s. At the 2004 Kappa Convention, Chi received awards for Finance, Panhellenic involvement, and Recruitment. In 2005 the University of Minnesota awarded them the New Member Program Award, and Chi received the Greatest Chapter Improvement and Standards awards at Kappa Province Meeting. University awards for Chapter of Excellence, Outstanding Academic Program, and Outstanding New Member Development were awarded to Chi in 2010.
In 2005 - 06, Chi helped to establish the new Eta Iota Kappa chapter at Creighton University. In addition to all of their philanthropic activities, Chi began to organize many more social and sisterhood events. Each year lots of Chi Kappas were chosen to be fraternity sweethearts. In anticipation of their 2010 100th anniversary of the chapter house, a Parents’ Association was founded. This helped to bring lots of chapter house improvements to Chi, including painting, new draperies, other window coverings, and bedspreads. Air conditioning was installed, gardens were landscaped, and a new website was created.
Campus trends included a greater awareness of sexual assaults on campus and efforts to prevent them and a new light rail system that was expanded in Minneapolis and St. Paul to help to connect the 3 separate campuses more safely.
During the year of 2011, Chi chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma participated in many significant and notable events. In the winter our chapter raised money to help young girls have the opportunity to participate in the Polar Plunge. Also, many of our own members participated in the philanthropy event, Polar Plunge.
In the spring we had two formals, one was held at the St. Paul Depot, and the second formal was held at Modo-I, a sushi restaurant. Kappa hosted the philanthropy event, Breakfast at Kappa. Our chapter was paired with Pi Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Delta Pi for Spring Jam. In the spring we also hosted our mother’s for brunch at Jack’s café. Over the summer of 2011 an HGTV designer redesigned our house. The chapter room, main living room, and the kitchen all had renovations.
In the fall of 2011 our chapter initiated 31 new members. In the fall we participated in homecoming activities and we were paired with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, and Lambda Delta Phi. Our chapter hosted our philanthropy event Kappa Katch me if you Can 5K, where many of our members and fellow university students participated to raise money. Our fall formal was held at the Minneapolis Grand Hotel. We went gathered and brought over three hundred books to St. Anthony Park Elementary school in St. Paul. We also spent time with our dad’s by hosting them at a Minnesota gopher hockey game in the winter. At the end of the semester, our chapter held a house and advisory board appreciation dinner to recognize and thank the people that help take care of our chapter and our house.
Campus: Over the past fall of 2011 Washington avenue has been under construction. They are renovating the streets and putting in a new light rail, that will connect to the existing light rail system and improve transportation on campus. There also has been a lot of other renovations to various buildings on campus.
Chapter: Over the past year our house has been renovated by an HGTV designer, the main living room, chapter room and kitchen has been renovated. Also our chapter has revised the standing rules and bylaws within each chapter council position and overall chapter council. III. Chapter Challenges: (Describe them and how the chapter met and overcame them.) One of the major challenges of our chapter is maintaining a high enough GPA to compete with the other sororities on campus. But this has become an issue that our chapter has taken very seriously. In order to strive for a high GPA and overall positive academic reputation our chapter has required study tables, and a log book to record and keep track of the hours that each member of the chapter has spent studying.
This past year we Chi chapter participated and hosted numerous philanthropic events, participated in various activities through the University and created strong relationships with other Greek houses on campus. Spring 2012 was an exciting semester for Chi chapter. In February of 2012 we had our Spring Date Party social event at the 508 Restaurant and Bar in Minneapolis. The theme was Kappa Countries. Also, a group of us did the JDRF walk at the Mall of America. In March 2012 it was the first time that Chi participated in Girls Academy. In April 2012 we took part in Spring Jam with a group of other houses on campus. The overall Spring Jam theme was “Through the Decades”. Our pairing chose to do the 90's and our theme was "Saved by the Bid". Our team excelled and had a wonderful time. In May 2012 our Spring formal was held at the Grand Hotel in a banquet room. At the end of the school year, in April we were awarded Chapter of Excellence and the Award for Outstanding Greek Relations at the Greek awards.
Fall semester was another great semester for Chi chapter. Homecoming in October was an extremely exciting time for our House. Our theme was “Legends of the Wild Wild West” and after being paired with three other fraternities our team went on to battle it out and won the overall title of 2012 Homecoming champs! Later, in November we put on a 5K run “Kappa Katch Me if you Can” on campus and took part in a fight against starvation with a number of other houses at “Feed My Starving Children” outings. In December we celebrated Dad’s day where we attended a gopher hockey game and held a Date party at Brothers Bar in downtown Minneapolis with a Halloween theme. Finally, a goal our chapter has set this year was increasing the chapter GPA goal to 3.4. To help us work towards this goal we have set weekly study table at the house and study table sessions with other houses.
Recently there have been a lot of changes on our campus physically. The university is constantly looking for ways to improve the school and one way they are choosing to do so is building a few new things around campus. Currently they are working on building a light rail system through campus for fast and convenient transportation along with installing designated bike lanes on busy streets. In addition the new Rec center and Northrup Auditorium undergoing reconstruction and will be done in fall 2013. Finally, our campus is installing a number of new apartment buildings and even a new dorm for student housing on 17th Avenue. This new dorm will be filled for the most part with Greek students.
Within the last year Chi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma has hosted and participated in many philanthropic events around campus and strengthened our bonds with other Greek chapters.
During the spring semester, Chi chapter hosted Breakfast at Kappa with all proceeds going to Girls Academy. This was a very successful philanthropy that gave Chi Chapter an opportunity to bond with other Greek communities who attended and always was a great opportunity for us to bond as a chapter. Breakfast at Kappa was great way to share with others and promote our philanthropy, Girls Academy, and raise money for the foundation. Chi Chapter also participated in Relay for Life, which raises money to help kids fight cancer. Besides Chi’s philanthropies, as a chapter we also attended and participated in many other Fraternity and Sorority’s philanthropies. Finally, Chi Chapter participated in Spring Jam. An annual weekend at the University of Minnesota that encourages participation in a cheer and dance competition as well as flag football game.
During the fall of 2013, Chi Chapter brought Something of Value to the University of Minnesota for the very first time. Something of Value is a national program that encourages discussion of high-risk behavior that Greek communities partake in. The day included a mock trial, discussion of our values, and an opportunity to create an action plan in order to decrease and eliminate high-risk behavior. Chi Chapter invited two members from each pledge class to participate in this event. It was very influential for our chapter as well as the other sororities that participated. Also, Chi Chapter participated in a weekend-retreat for Girls Academy, having the opportunity to attend Northeast Middle school and empower young women. Overall, it was a very influential and impactful year for Chi Chapter. We feel as though we grew strong bonds within our chapter and with other Greek communities through our active participation in philanthropies.
We received the all around Greatest Chapter Award at the 2013 Province Meeting.
The University of Minnesota is constantly evolving. Currently, the University is building a light rail that runs through the campus that will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St Paul. The light rail has been under construction for four years and will be running in the fall of 2014; which is a very exciting event for all the students and faculty at the University of Minnesota. Also, the University of Minnesota has recently updated Northrop Memorial Auditorium. Northrop Memorial Auditorium is an enduring symbol of the University and the focal point of the Twin Cities campus. It has been under construction since 2011 and opening April 2014.
Finally, this fall Insomnia Cookies opened in Dinkytown. Insomnia Cookies delivers fresh and warm cookies to students doorsteps until 2 am. Insomnia Cookies has been a very fun and happening business on campus this fall. The University of Minnesota, Chi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma is a very friendly, sisterly, fun, and hard working chapter. As we close this year, Chi Chapter has a lot to be proud of. However, looking back we will always remember the strong philanthropic year we had and the meaningful bonds we’ve made that will last a lifetime.