Grant Hallstrom

Sigma Nu President Grant Hallstrom poses for a portrait outside of the Nebraska Union on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sigma Nu fraternity’s house has been condemned since its suspension in 2014. As the years passed and seasons changed, the brown-bricked house on 16th Street has remained empty.

But the University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter members hope this will change in the near future. 

Sigma Nu was suspended in 2014 after alcohol and fire code violations were found at the house. After being recognized again as a fraternity by the Interfraternity Council in 2016, its members began a recolonization process with multiple requirements. They will complete that process with a chartering ceremony this weekend and move forward with several goals.

“It's really been a long road to get here,” fraternity president Grant Hallstrom said. “And we've been really close for about three semesters, but we finally earned it. And now our National Headquarters are saying, ‘Good job, congratulations.’”

The chartering ceremony is the culmination of many achievements over the past three years in order to get the chapter recognized as an active Sigma Nu chapter by the organization’s headquarters. In order to be recharted, the Sigma Nu chapter had to have at least 45 members in the fraternity, a 3.0 average GPA and participate in a certain number of philanthropies and community service events, according to Hallstrom.

The fraternity expects to have many alumni help celebrate the chapter’s achievement. All of the members who couldn’t initiate while the chapter was in its recolonization process will also now be initiated.

According to Hallstrom, 2018 Sigma Nu president Patrick McCarthy will be one of about 40 members who will be initiated on Saturday.

Over the past three years, McCarthy was in charge of making sure the chapter maintained its requirements to be rechartered. For him, that meant making a petition to keep track of everything the chapter did over the last three years that helped them meet their requirements. He said that document ended up being over 175 pages long. 

“It's been cool to see all of these guys come together to achieve that common goal and a shared vision,” McCarthy said. “And I just strive for them to never forget where they came from and where we came from as a chapter and to just keep pushing forward.”

According to Hallstrom, the fraternity currently has about 45 members and hopes to increase its membership. Alumni advisor Kyle Fischer said that number used to be around 75, and the membership decrease is related to the chapter’s lack of a house. 

Fixing the house is expected to cost more than $1 million, but it’s one of the fraternity's main goals moving forward. Hallstrom said he believes this weekend could be a telling sign as to when they could get their house back.

“We could have one big donor come in and say, ‘Hey, here's a large sum,’” Hallstrom said. “Or we might have to chip at it and get small donations from multiple donors. We hope our chartering can help with fundraising.”

Estimates on when they will get the house back are vague. Fischer tentatively said they could be getting the house back in 18 to 24 months, but that won’t be possible without investments.  

“It's a multi-million dollar project, and that money has to come from alumni and other investors,” Fischer said. “I think anybody can imagine raising over a million dollars in cash is hard to do.”

Regardless of fundraising, senior and current Sigma Nu intramural chair Ryan Dornbusch sees the chartering this weekend as a chance for the chapter to turn over a new leaf.

“I know there's been a lot of questions when we've been a colony wondering if we’re actually a thing,” Dornbusch said. “So I hope now, showing them that we're recognized, that we are legit, and that we are back in, that we want to do the same things our alumni did. I want it to be like we never were even to get kicked off.”