A Formal Look

The official history of Iota Gamma Upsilon as it was written in 1963 below is rather formal. A more informal look of what followed during those first years follows the first version.

Feeling the need for more sororities on the growing campus of the University of Massachusetts, five young women pooled their ideas in the hope of starting the 10th sorority on campus. They were later joined by 11 other young women who held the same ideals, to form what is now Iota Gamma Upsilon.May 1962 marked the first initiation of the Iota Gamma Upsilon sorority

May 1962 was the first initiation of Iota Gamma Upsilon.
The photo at right shows the original 16 sisters on May 29, 1962.
First row: *Cheron Laboissonniere, Claudia Kelly, Nancy Jansen
Second row: Susan Barrett, *Virginia Mallison, Janet Jablonski, *Susan Morash, Kay Johnson
Third row: Janet Rosata, Lynda Kretschmar, Carolyn Sakakeeny, Patricia Genetti, Advisor Mrs. Higgins, Advisor Mrs. Glover, Advisor Mrs. LaBranche, *Lynne Knubbe, *Judy Reiker, Carol Rose, Judith Ferris
* founding sisters

In March of 1962, the original five young women began a series of meetings, trying to find others who shared their ideals, and also to inform the campus of their desire to form a new sorority. These meetings took the form of informal get-togethers where each of the girls brought others whom they considered as prospective members of their sorority. After two months of holding such meetings, 11 girls joined them, and they continued to work on the formation Iota Gam, sharing the responsibilities.

In consulting with Mrs. Gonon, the assistant dean of women, they were advised of what steps to take. The first was to inform Dean Curtis and the Panhellenic Council as to their intentions. The second step was to write a constitution, which was completed and ratified by the University at the end of May 1962. The next step was the choosing of advisers. Four women from the community agreed to take on this task. The fourth and final step was to initiate themselves as sisters of Iota Gamma Upsilon, which was done on May 29, 1962.

While these steps were being followed, the young women were also in the process of choosing their name, Iota Gamma Upsilon, their colors, ultramarine and green, and their flower, the daffodil.

On October 3, 1962, the sisters of Iota Gamma Upsilon held their inaugural tea, with the purpose of formally establishing the sorority on campus.

And then what happened? History continues

As the sisters started the founding process, Tri Sig also started a chapter at UMass. Their experience wasn't exactly the same because they had a national organization behind them, but IGU was not the only new house that year.  

During the first year, the sisters lived in their regular dorm rooms. The rushes held in Memorial Hall lacked the normal amenities of a house which caused some embarrassment, like when the ice cream melted and the strawberries stayed frozen, but most thought the prospective sisters might have been relieved not to have to troop through yet another house. They could just relax and get to know the IGUs. The members had only theirselves and their ideals to offer.

IGU sisters were amazed that first rush brought 13 new pledges but somehow figured out what to do with them.  Furious writing sessions produced a pledging ceremony, songs and instant traditions. IGU was a real sorority with a future.

The second year the IGU sisters lived together in a basement corridor of Van Meter set aside just for them. Having recently been converted to a girls’ dorm, they guessed the University was trying to fill it up any way it could. But what the spartan dorm corridor lacked in gracious living was more than offset by the opportunity to cement the sisterhood. By the second semester that year the sisters moved into their very own house.

The photo at right shows "Gingerbread House," IGU's first home at 314 Lincoln Avenue.

Iota Gamma Upsilon sisters couldn't believe their luck. Kappa Kappa Gamma had just built a big new house and offered their old house, 314 Lincoln Avenue, to IGU at a very nice price for the good of the Greek system. The one big advantage to this house was that it was already set up as a sorority. It was a huge and very scary leap for the IGU sisters at that point, but the IGU corporation (consisting of a couple of parents and advisers) somehow made it happen. IGU was across the street from Chi Omega. Now the sisters felt like a grown-up sorority.

Eleven of the original sisters were freshmen in 1962, which gave the house good continuity those first few years. Some of the founding sisters thought that when they graduated in 1965 that IGU would die a quick death if it didn't go national. Serious talks with Tri Delta were held after they left, but nothing came of it. IGU had already surmounted its initial trials and tribulations, and the sisters reasoned that aside from losing the IGU identity and financial independence, what could a national do for them that they hadn’t already done for themselves?

The house went through various stages over the years and the sorority moved into a bigger house on North Pleasant Street, but after more than 50 years, the sisters of Iota Gamma Upsilon are still a group of independent, capable and feisty women.

— Written by Helen Tefs Marshall, member of IGU's first pledge class and
Ginny Mallison Stibolt, founding sister.

Below is an excerpt of Helen's letter to her parents, dated March 15, 1963. Some of it was devoted to Iota Gam, including the prospective purchase of 314 Lincoln Avenue.

We have the most wonderful news. A house is almost in the bag for us. We'll know definitely tomorrow sometime. We want to by [sic] Kappa Kappa Gamma's old house. We've had it appraised and it's worth $26,000. The best offer they've had is $22,500, so there's a good chance that we'll get it. A bank in town has agreed to loan 80%, and Kappa, the other 20% in the form of some kind of mortgage or something.

Helen said, "I then went on to sell the parents on my living in the house by telling them that for only $10 more than a 5-day University meal ticket, I could eat on the weekends too. The closer was cheaper housing because UMass was raising dorm fees by $100, but our house was holding the line. Eventually, I went for the emotional closer:"

You know, when I stop to think of what we're doing, it simply amazes me. Because all of this work for the sorority house isn't just for us — we're building something that's really going to last — as long as UMass, which at the rate the school is going, is going to be for a long, long time. I'm just so proud of all of us, and I love Iota Gam so much... We have something in our sorority that no other group on campus has. We've taken nothing and we're building it into more than something. In some respects, it's everything. Girls who joined other sororities just walked into the empty places of the girls who had left. But we're building something, and because of that, we're closer than you could ever imagine. We've become sisters in more than the ordinary sorority sense of the word. I truly love every one of those girls, and to call them Sister is something that makes me very proud, and a little humble all at once. I only hope that I'll be worthy enough to be a sister to them.
When I first pledged Iota Gam, you both kind of wondered why. I think I've explained it now. And every single day, I realize more and more just how lucky I was to have made the decision that I did. I wouldn't change places with any other pledge in any other house on campus because, as I see it, for me, there isn't any other house on campus. In a way, I didn't pick Iota Gam, it picked me; because all I had to do was look, and after I had done that, I realized what it was. And it was wonderful.

"So if that doesn't take you back and make your eyes mist just a little, what will?"

For more information on the history of the sorority, read the passages on The Long View of IGU page.

IGU has grown so large since it was founded in 1962!

New pledges are always a fun part of sorority life at the University of Massachusetts Iota Gamma Upsilon

Go to Top