Phyllis Grae-Nielson has just finished celebrating the 27th anniversary of Greek Unique, her fraternity and sorority based store. Located near the University of South Florida in Tampa, Greek Unique also serves the University of Tampa, St. Leo University and Florida Southern University.
Greek Unique offers hundreds of gift items for almost every fraternity or sorority. However, they are best known for their classic jerseys and made-to-order items.
“We have a lot of different options, we have about 208 different fabrics so people can come in and choose the fabric that we have and they can also bring in their own fabric,” said Cali Sanford, the store manager.
What makes Greek Unique so special is that everything that is made to order, besides the garments, is made by hand. The fraternity and sorority letters that are sewn onto the jerseys are hand cut and put together.
“The main things that we do are double stitch and embroidery, so double stitch is the twill letters that you see that go across most of the people’s shirts and the embroidery is just standard embroidery,” said Sanford.
Greek Unique is also a family-based business. The store was first opened by Grae-Neilson and her two daughters, both USF Alumni. Now it is run by Grae-Neilson and her husband Alistar Nielson, who does the embroidery.
“This is what I’ve been doing for 27 years, and I love it,” said Grae-Nielson.
Greek Unique is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 5025 East Fowler Avenue.
In full swing, Doctor Who fans and swing dancers came out to dance the night away and participate in costume contests. Wholloween, an annual event at USF, was held Oct. 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center’s amphitheater. The event was open to everyone. Roughly a hundred people came out to the event. It was a mixed crowd of Doctor Who themed costumes, self-invented costumes, and non-costumed attendees.
On Sunday, October 26, the Eta Eta Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta hosted its 2nd Annual Crescent Classic Chili Cook-Off in Greek Village at USF. The proceeds from the entrance fee go to the charity Girls on the Run. Guests voted on their favorite chili and were invited to play cornhole and line dance. Winning organizations received trophies. The first place overall winner Sigma Nu.
Story and photographs by: Emma Sims and Alyssa Perry
The men from USF’s Sigma Nu fraternity had a powdery layer of sawdust on their glasses. It was nearing midnight Wednesday. The clouds of fine dust battled for space in the already anxious air that filled the fraternity house backyard.
There were two days until the USF Homecoming parade, and the team of two Greek chapters, Sigma Nu and Delta Delta Delta, had just started building their float. They were behind schedule and running out of time. And to add more spice to the Crock-Pot of confusion, they did not have a theme for their float.
The team planed on decorating their trailer with a “Peter Pan” theme – at first.
“We have a problem. Gamma Phi Beta is already doing “Peter Pan” as their theme,” Delta’s activities director Nicole Harris said. “We can’t do it now, it’ll look like we copied them.”
“Maybe they copied us,” Sigma’s activity director John Lemmer said.
“We need a new theme, like now. Does anyone have an idea?” Harris asked the crew of six.
“What about “The Little Mermaid?’” Jill Bowen said.
The three Sigma Nu brothers were not impressed. Their childhood movie repertoire likely did not include the singing redheaded mermaid. The men wanted to stick with “Peter Pan,” but the women had already started singing Ariel’s ballad, “A Part of Your World.” The battle was lost as soon as it began.
“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got 20. But who cares? No big deal. I want more,” the group of Deltas belted to their confused audience.
“OK stop. This isn’t “High School Musical,’” Jordan Moore said.
“We don’t have any more time to talk about it,” Lemmer said.
And so, “The Little Mermaid” it was.
USF’s 2014 homecoming theme was “Once Upon a Homecoming.” The campus celebrations culminated with the Running with the Bulls Night Parade Friday night, comprised of floats and participants from various organizations, including Greek teams. Floats were judged for first, second and third place. There were four categories in the judging criteria: originality and creativity, theme, design and construction and, of course, green and gold spirit. The deadline for float construction was 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.
The Running with the Bulls Night Parade took place at 7 p.m. Friday. Professional and homemade floats participated in the contest. The winner would be announced later that night at the Homecoming After-Party.
Fraternities and sororities at USF paired up for the homecoming week events. Each Greek team had a committee of 20 participants, with 10 from each fraternal organization. The participating few were expected to take part in the homecoming responsibilities, which included building the float.
Float construction was not limited to the homecoming committee. Any of the organization’s members could help, but finding available students proved to be a project in itself.
“It’s really hard to find people who will help. It’s a really ridiculous time commitment for the week,” Harris said. “That’s hard when people have class at night and jobs.”
Wednesday night’s float crew included only six workers – three sorority sisters and three fraternity brothers. The Sigma men were working until 1 a.m. Thursday, building a pirate ship on their trailer.
“Girls can’t exactly handle power tools,” Harris said.
Once the float construction was assembled, the women joined the men to help improve the aesthetics. Friday afternoon was spent working collaboratively to meet the float competition’s criteria.
Harris was trying to round up the focus of her workers. She needed to make a trip to the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store for some last minute supplies.
They had three hours left.
“OK, so we need spray paint, plastic swords, candy, bubbles, fabric and hats. What else?” Harris said.
“Girls, who wants to be the Rose to my Jack?” Moore asked.
Harris rolled her eyes.
“This isn’t “Titanic”, Jordan. It’s “The Little Mermaid,” Harris said.
On the house’s back deck, Jack, Bowen’s four-month-old Golden Retriever, yelped and whined. Perhaps his distress stemmed from the cone of shame around his perky head (a result of his recent neutering procedure), or perhaps he was warning the students that they were running out of time.
Jack was politely ignored. The team was busy bantering about what to buy at the craft store.
“What about confetti poppers?” Lemmer asked.
“No,” Harris said. “We’re not doing that.”
“I’m the king of the world!” Medlin shouted from the pirate ship’s platform as he gripped the ship’s wheel.
It was going to be a long afternoon.
Homecoming week was packed with events.
Every day, except Wednesday, had a game in which the Greek teams were expected to compete. Various other events accompanied the games, including a weeklong blood drive, a soda can tab donation and the construction of a USF Spirit sculpture. These events were ongoing, and teams were given sign-in points for each event in which a member participated.
“It’s just kind of a lot,” Harris said.
Although the homecoming week consists largely of competitions, teams remain friendly with one another.
“It’s nothing dramatic,” elementary education major and Gamma Phi Beta sorority member Amanda Carlton said. “You get to bond with someone you wouldn’t normally work with.”
At the end of homecoming week, points were tallied and winners were announced. The categories included overall placement and individual competition placements.
“Sigma Nu is really good at intramurals,” finance major and Gamma Phi sister, Shelby Fouts-Harley said.
Lemmer said their team, The Fuzzy Wombats, spent around $450 on their “Little Mermaid” float, which was entirely homemade. Essential materials included large particleboards, gallons of green paint and fabric for decorations and costumes.
“We put a lot of work into it, so at this point we want to win,” Harris said. “It’d be awesome if we did, but it’s not the end of the world.”
The staging area on Holly Drive was buzzing with school spirit.
The gold dresses of the Sun Dolls sparkled in the setting sun as the Herd of Thunder band tapped on their snares. Professional floats boasted bright paint jobs, permanent props and loud music. The homemade floats were waiting next to their manufactured competitors. Everyone was gearing up to go.
The parade was in an hour.
The Wombat’s float was hooked up to the trailer-hitch on Bowen’s white Chevrolet truck. A Sigma Nu flag flapped proudly from a pipe on the ship’s bow. There were two fishnets draped on the sides of the 10-foot-tall trailer construction, named “The S.S. Fuzzy Wombats.”
The team’s creation met all the required competition criteria: it was original, it fit USF’s fairy tale theme, the construction was sturdy and it was decked out in all green and gold paint. There was only one component missing from the team’s float – the members of the Fuzzy Wombats. No one accompanied the float.
There was 15 minutes to show time.
The sidewalks on Holly and Maple Drive were peppered with an audience of students, alumni and everyone in-between.
The parade was rolling along the road covered in Laffy Taffy and cheap strings of beads. Children leapt for their lives to catch the flying treats.
The party music and cheers of “Go Bulls” filled the air with school spirit.
It was 8 p.m. and the parade was almost over.
Then, around the corner cruised “The Little Mermaid” crew. The Delta women and Sigma men were cheering and grinning.
“The S.S. Fuzzy Wombats” made it after all. Their float was not the best looking one, but it was there. And for that, they were proud.
Friday night of Homecoming week is probably the most hectic. There is so much going on all at once: the carnival is up and running, crowds line the streets to watch the parade and then file across Palm Drive to watch a concert. There is a line of cars trying to make it to the various parking lots and people are crossing the streets from all directions. From a by-stander’s point of view, it’s a recipe for disaster.
To handle this much chaos, the USF Police Department start preparing months ahead.
“We collaborate with various entities on campus in preparation for it,” Assistant Chief Chris Daniel said. “As the week approaches we start looking at staffing. We require all officers to be available.”
There are 52 officers on staff at USF, but during large events, such as Homecoming, the Temple Terrace Police Department steps in to offer additional resources.
While students, alumni and faculty are relaxing and enjoying the various events, some USF Police officers are riding around on bikes patrolling the campus grounds making sure attendants are staying safe.
The biggest issue of Homecoming is the concert. Because the concert is open to the public, people not affiliated with the university attend and this has caused some problems in the past.
“We don’t have control of access,” Daniel said. “There’s no checkpoints around the event. We just have to deal with what occurs instead of trying to prevent.”
And this year would be no different from past Homecomings. The university police had to remove a few people from the concert for disorderly conduct and there was one arrest.
“A student who took a fire extinguisher and discharged it throughout the crowd and then ran from police when we tried to catch him.” Daniel said
The university police have also had issues concerning the people who attend the parade. They run out in front of the floats to cross the street or to pick up the goodies that have been thrown.
“Often times the person driving the float can’t see that well and there’s always a risk of somebody getting hurt,” Daniel said.
To help with this problem the USF Police Department has officers riding on bikes alongside the floats, and officers, dressed in safety-green vests, standing in the intersection of Bull Run Drive and Alumni Drive directing cars, people and floats, making sure all get across the intersection safely.
University police officer Frank Wassenberg, who was riding a bike patrolling the campus Friday night, said so far everything has gone smoothly.
For many USF students Homecoming week is an exciting time. A time to relax and enjoy the array of festivities. But for USF’s Police Department it’s a time of working long hours and making sure all in attendance stay safe.
“Homecoming is a great event,” Daniel said. “It’s taxing on our resources, but it’s only one week out of the year that we’re in this position, so it’s very manageable.”
Cooking with the Dietitians is an event hosted at USF to help students learn about eating healthy. Tips are given to students, by registered dietitians, to find ways to choose a healthy lifestyle on the second week of every month.
Dividing your plate into fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein is just one of the important topics in the presentation. Ashlea Kurmay, a USF student, attends these events and has learned the importance of cooking a healthy meal.
“Suffice for yourself by actually going to the grocery store and cooking an actual healthy meal and I think that this really helps teach students that,” Kurmay said.
Busy schedules and skipping a healthy meal are common among students in college.
However, Kurmay is proof that it’s not impossible to make small changes for a healthier lifestyle. She keeps an active schedule and stays away from drinks that have a great deal of one specific ingredient – sugar.
“I work about four to five times a week and I just try to eat really healthy and not drink like soda or anything with a lot of added sugar,” Kurmay said.
A vegetable like a bell pepper is recommended by Health Promotion Specialist Alex Kloehn, who works with USF’s Wellness Center. The vegetable usually does not get credit for its benefits because it is an uncommon ingredient for recipes.
Bell peppers have high levels of vitamins A and C and are a good source of fiber. Although they range in different colors, the red, orange, and yellow peppers carry more of these nutrients.
“Actually, a bell pepper has almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange.” Kloehn said. “So, it’s something that people don’t know. So, when you’re sick and you want to fight off that cold, try having a bell pepper instead of an orange.”
Kloehn is the head of the promotions department at the Wellness Center for any health presentation and can be available for a one on one discussion. The Student Health Services is also another option to find a professional dietitian and help you make a health plan.
“It would be great if people knew a little bit more about why fruits and vegetables are beneficial. And that’s one of our goals here with produce of the month,” Kloehn said.
The next event for Cooking with the Dietitians will be on October 8th.
USF Career Services hosted its Internship & Part-Time Job Fair Wednesday. The career fair, hosted at least once every semester, provides students with an opportunity to land internships or part-time jobs that could turn into full-time employment after graduation.
“I’m looking for either an internship or part-time job while I’m at school,” graduate student Susan Mendez said. “I already have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and I’m here to take prerequisite courses to be eligible for a master’s in economics.”
Susan was among the 350 students in attendance looking to change their post graduation luck.
But what student qualities are of interest to employers at the career fair?
“What we are looking for in a student is that leadership quality,” Target Sr. Field Campus Recruiter Grace Blankenship said. “So being able to work with the team and to lead others and also to drive for results.”
While every employer may look for specific qualities or abilities, the 22 employers at Wednesday’s event were hoping to offer internships and part-time positions to USF students.
“So I only found two, actually three, that I was actually interested in,” said Mendez. “I talked to Target and USF HR, but Tampa Bay Lighting – there wasn’t a spoke person there. So I didn’t get to talk to them.”
Mendez said her next step was to apply and talk with those in different departments, to see what they are looking for.
The building is small, the parking lot only dimly lit and no neon sign indicating whether it is open or closed. But Bull Market has become a fixture in this area, a rare common experience for all college students and the families who live along 42nd Street.
It’s a stop-and-go place and there is a constant stream of people walking in, grabbing what they need and walking out. There are regular customers and transient types coming in as a last resort, as well as people using the parking lot as a meet-up spot for carpools or cab rides. And while there isn’t much tying these people together aside from the street they live on, Bull Market gives the neighborhood on 42nd Street a shared space where they can finally feel like neighbors.
Inside there are only five aisles, but it has almost every amenity needed: snack foods, cleaning supplies, toiletries and limited grocery items. Nazia Hirani is a sophomore, a USF transfer student from Georgia, and she likes how close the store is.
Jane Goodall hugs a grade-school student before giving an impromptu speech to the children participating in Roots and Shoots, a community action and learning program, at the USF Botanical Gardens. “Young people can do an awful lot if you know what the problems are,” Goodall said. The primatologist asked the student audience to raise their hands if they wanted to help animals, other people and the environment. Almost all students raised their hands wildly. (Photo by Paige Butterfield)