The String of Sissons

The String of Sissons

In the fall of 1998, the McGill chapter moved into a chapter house owned by the University.

On a campus where fraternities were not given full University sanction and recognition, this was quite an achievement.

Add the fact that the previous tenants, another fraternity chapter,

had left the house in a total shambles and the Betas’ achievement becomes a stunning coup!

It would have been hard to find a house better situated for a fraternity chapter.

On the right side of University Street, halfway up the hill, the chapter’s new home sat across from the edge of the McGill campus, and right on the edge of the McGill Ghetto.

Groups of students travelling to and from classes would pass by the Beta house each day.

The groundwork for this deal was laid in the spring of 1988, when the men realized that the house,

known colloquially as “the Red Door” for obvious reasons, would soon be up for rent. The University did not need it at that time.

With the assistance of some alumni, the men were able to negotiate a one-year lease with an option to renew.

The University made it plain that they expected better things from the Betas than from the former tenants.

This was a situation made to order for the “can-do” mentality of the Epsilon Nu Chapter.

 Within a few short months, massive cleaning was undertaken. Collages of photo material covering the walls were laboriously scraped off. Holes in walls and ceilings were patched with care.

Floors were sanded, washed and scoured. Bathrooms were scrubbed.

The “Red Door” still looked like an old house which had been abused in the past, but it was cleaner than it had been in years.

To say that the University was impressed would be an understatement.

Soon the housing office was going over plans for complex renovations with chapter representatives, and negotiating a long-term lease.

The plan called for a twostage rebuild of the house, spread over the course of two summers, so that the chapter could continue to live and work in the house during the school years.

All of this work on the “Red Door” was in addition to the regular operations of the chapter and its activities. Soon to that were to be added the preparations for the Installation Banquet.

And, of course, nobody had forgotten that oath to secure the Sisson Award for the chapter!

The Installation Banquet itself had a rather odd feel to it.

It was set for March 1989, and by that time, Epsilon Nu had been running as a chapter de facto for almost an entire academic year.

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