27 Things I wish Someone Told Me About Greek Life at UM

My name is Spencer Lawston and I am a senior and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon here at the University of Montana. While I also enjoy grilling on the front lawn and drinking PBR, I will be the first to admit I look nothing like Zac Efron.

When I first came to school I never pictured myself as a “frat guy” and to this day I am still amazed that I decided to go through recruitment. Looking back now, joining a fraternity was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but Ill talk about that a little later. When I first joined I had no idea what to expect, and to this day I am still surprised by some things. This article is all about the 27 things I wish someone would have told me when I decided to join Greek life at the University of Montana.


  1. Float building during Homecoming is chaotic- Houses get paired up and have to come up with a creative float idea to match the same homecoming theme every year. It’s always a chaotic rush to finish before Saturday morning at 8 because we don’t start until Friday night typically.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.41.54 AM
  2. You can move into your house as a freshman- Instead of living in a cramped dorm room with a random roommate for another semester, you could move in to your immaculate, lavish, and spacious chapter house (for those that have them at least).
  3. Every fraternity and sorority has a “sweetheart” and it takes a lot of time and effort to become one- It usually takes a year of campaigning and a lot of participation from the entire chapter as well in order to win (no wonder SAE hadn’t had a member be a sweetheart in like 15 years).
  4. You can get J-boarded twice, in one year, while you’re already on probation, and stay on campus Somehow SAE got J-boarded for actually following the rules and enforcing a guest list at one of our “Unregistered Functions”. We also somehow managed to meet all the terms of our probation (shout out to Drew Hossle and Flagship) and get off of probation.
  5. Griz Mornings are a thing, and they are awesome- Nobody tailgates earlier, harder, or better than the Greeks do.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 3.55.17 PM
  6. Theta Kickball is the best philanthropic event in the universe- Seriously, who doesn’t like playing kickball all day? And all the money raised goes to charity, its a win win.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.32.56 PM
  7. Elections are the longest meetings of all time- Every semester we have to elect new position, and it always takes upwards of 3 hours. 3 hours of candidates telling you the same thing and asking for your vote.
  8. Greek life advisors change pretty frequently- Maureen gave way to Julie, who gave way to Caitlin (temporarily), luckily Caitlin is officially hired and will hopefully be here for a while.
  9. In 4 years we’d have 3 new chapters on campus- I mean two (R.I.P. Pike).
  10. Moving into the house for the first time is absolutely insane- I had no idea what I needed for my room when I first moved in. Moving is always difficult, but when 25 people are all trying to move into the same house at the same time, things get crazy.
  11. SAE’s Toga Party is the absolute best party of the year- This is pretty self explanatory, TOGA TOGA TOGA!!! 
  12. Senior games are a hilarious tribute to the seniors, at the expense of your underclassmen- Every senior loves getting schmoozed for a week. It’s a great way to celebrate making it through college, kinda.
  13. SAE would eliminate the pledge process all together- It was a huge announcement that completely changed the entire makeup of one of the largest fraternities in the country. It has forced us to completely re-organize our entire member education process and has increased the workload required by every member of the chapter.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.34.40 PM
  14. I would be in charge of recruitment- Somehow I got put in charge of running Fraternity recruitment. I had to scrap the old process and come up with an entirely new process. Everything went well and the new system is still pretty much intact. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my time here.
  15. I would tell a room full of parents that “we pretty much party every weekend”- I went into the presentation saying that I was going to be honest, and when a parent asked what the social scene was like, I responded honestly (I was actually scared for my well being when I looked over and saw Caitlin and Julie).
  16. The above statement would lead to one of the largest recruiting classes we’ve ever gotten- We got 117 new fraternity men that year, up from 30 in the previous year.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.36.42 PM
  17. Being VP of your house makes everyone hate you- Nobody likes you when you tell them that they have to follow the rules.
  18. Cupcake would become IFC President- Cupcake is arguably the most likable person in our Greek system so seeing him, and working with him, on an executive board was quiet the experience.
  19. The Dad bod would become a thing- And I would fully support and embrace it to the dismay of manyScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.25.22 PM
  20. I would lose the Mr. Anchorslam competition several times- I have been called the DG troll by some, and my friendship with pretty much all of the Delta Gammas is well known. In my early years I thought that I was a lock for Mr. Anchorman, clearly I was wrong, three times.
  21. Overnight functions are the best functions- It took 3 years but we finally went on an overnight function as a chapter. We rented out a huge house near Flathead Lake and stayed for 2 days. These two days were ridiculous and I cant really write anything else about it.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.27.49 PM
  22. Going to National events is an absolute blast, and you learn some stuff too- I myself have been to Vegas, Miami, and the Bahamas on a cruise ship for national leadership schools. These events are located in highly desirable locations and have hundreds of other members in attendance. It gives you a chance to meet members from around the country and network with them.
  23. The entire Greek system can continuously come up with creative and unique themes for social events- It is a constant struggle for houses to come up with themes for social events but UM doesn’t disappoint. From highlighter and jungle, to the Harlem Shake and construction, UM Greeks show that they can stay creative and innovative.
  24. I would spend $1,000 on a bar tab at formal- We’ve all had nights where we come back from downtown and realize we spent way too much money. In most cases thats like $100. My Junior year at our Violet Ball Formal at the Ranch Club I somehow managed to rack up an $1,117 dollar tab. Apparently I told everyone in attendance I would buy their next round and also told the bartender to only use top shelf alcohol. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.21.47 AM
  25. I would finally achieve my college long goal of becoming Mr. Anchorman- After 4 years of campaigning and probably $500 in spare change, I finally achieved my goal and was awarded the coveted prize, it was the best day of my college career, hands down.
  26. Greeks would be so rowdy during homecoming that all alcohol would be banned in Greek life- Never mind what actually happened and what the actual punishment was, TFM, The Kaimin, The Missoulian, and every other news agency in Montana ran with the headline “Alcohol banned in all Fraternities and Sororities”. #SoberForOctoberScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.23.58 AM
  27. Greek life at UM is a tight knit community- In the end, we’re a pretty small Greek system and we’re all tight knit. We all have friends in different houses and can all come together when we need to.

Trump Rejects Primaries in Favor of Fight Club

Donald Trump in a bold move has announced his intentions to settle the remaining GOP primaries via “something akin to fight club”. donaldtrump1

In a shocking turn of events the real estate mogul turned self funded politician announced his plan at a NASCAR rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee  ahead of the state’s primary.

“Look at these guys, scrawny fellas right? America was made great by burly beavermen who chopped wood with their own damn hands. We are a country united by our strength and love of protein shakes. Our founding fathers gave us the right to bare arms yet I haven’t seen a politician actively stand by that constitutional right since. Listen folks, we need a leader that knows how to lift.  How can we respect a candidate who doesn’t respect mad gains?”

“You guys ever see that movie Fight Club? I think that was a good system. Men asserting their power with their fists. The voting establishment of today doesn’t guarantee us a strong president or one with mad judo skills for that matter. Look at how they do this in Russia people, Putin came to power by boxing a bear and look where Russia is today. The point I’m trying to make here is that voting won’t give us the strongest leader ; which is why I’m calling out Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson to be men. Mano a mano, Trump Tower, Tomorrow”

In an interview later that day when asked why he took this drastic turn he responded by calling the other candidates “sweaty nerds who don’t even lift”, he followed “that this is probably their only chance at winning”.

Self-provided photo from Trump’s 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction

“I can do like 8 pull ups, these losers don’t stand a chance”

With Trump currently standing in the WWE Hall of Fame and being a former owner of Monday Night Raw this move to take his dominance in the polls to a physical arena comes as no surprise to pundits the world over. Vice President Joe Biden has already stepped forward to offer his skills as referee. Leaders the world over are already firmly grasping their lunch money in anticipation of the results of this election year.


The Forgotten Middle Child – 90’s Kids and Why We Aren’t Millennials


We all know the story. Some of us have even lived it. Forgotten, overshadowed, and pushed aside. Being the middle child was the worst. The oldest sibling received all the accolades and rewards, the youngest received all the attention. And there we were, waving our hands in the air trying to say, “Hey! I’m right here and I’m not like them!” And here we are, still waving our hands, still trying to push our way past the shoulders of our surrounding siblings. A little older, a little wiser, but still just as frustrated. Being a 90’s kid is tough.



Damn Millennials.” Many times have these words been uttered through the lips of baby boomers and Gen X’s. “All they care about is social media! They don’t know how to work hard!” We hear it. And we take it. But it’s a load of bulls**t. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back. The definition of a Millennial is someone who was born between around 1980 and around the early 2000’s. While the characteristics of a Millennial can vary depending on the source, the gist is relatively the same. Lazy, narcissistic, coddled, materialistic, disengaged. Positive isn’t it? However in reality, the term “Millennial” isn’t as generalizable as many make it out to be.

People born in the 1980’s are currently aged anywhere between 26 and 35 years old. Having been in the working world for around four or five years, this decade of people are usually seen as responsible employees and entrepreneurs, creating a name for themselves and making short work of corporate ladders all around the world (sounds like the eldest sibling doesn’t it?). Racking up accomplishments and higher salaries, they’re already integrated with Gen X and often aren’t thought of when someone mentions Millennials. People born in the latter half of the term “Millennial” are currently in the height of their teenage years, and because of their youth, are usually grouped in with the rest of the post-century birth crowd. This is where the stereotypes of being a Millennial stem from. But I’ll come back to that later. Right smack in the middle, as always, are 90s kids. Currently aged 16 to 25, we are forced to be grouped into this almost derogatory term, “Millennial”. However we couldn’t be more different than our two surrounding siblings.

I was born in 1994. A great year if I allow myself to say so. Nelson Mandela, Netscape, Rwanda massacre, World Trade Center Bombing…Kurt Cobain…O.J. Simpson… Okay so maybe it wasn’t that great of a year. My point though is that all this happened in one year. Look at what 90’s kids have been through over the course of their short lives: Y2K, 9/11, the dot com boom and bust, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the War in Iraq, Apple’s rise to power, the Great Recession, the first black president, the legalization of gay marriage. And those are just a few off the top of my head. We’ve been left to solve the energy crisis and are the last generation that can reduce climate change and global warming before it’s too late. The world has changed immensely in the past 25 years. It’s led to one of the greatest qualities that 90’s kids possess. Nostalgia. And a whole lot of it. We grew up in a time that was almost entirely analog and the biggest fear was Y2K instead of war and the economy. We came of age in a time of great turmoil both domestic and abroad. We became adults in an entirely digital age and a slowly recovering economy. We are incredibly young, and yet possess the nostalgia of an old man.

We yearn for the simpler times, when the TV was turned on only after finishing family dinners and calling our friend’s home phone was the only way to reach them (other than AIM). And now I’m currently sitting in front of two computer screens as my phone sits within an arm’s reach dinging with updates of text messages, emails, and social media updates (perhaps this nostalgia is why hipsters came about). This dichotomy in ways of life leaves us 90’s kids wishing we were kids again. And that age was only 15 years ago! This isn’t a bad thing though. Growing up through all of this change has allowed us to adapt to all of the new tech and be very proficient with it. But we also see the value in writing a handwritten note to an employer after a job interview and enjoy relaxing with a good book. In a way, we are the most tech savvy analog people out there. Yes, I know what a tape deck is and watched VHS movies. I also owned a CD player. 90’s kids learned on Gateway computers but can do programming on any Mac book or PC no problem. I could go on and on but my point is that in our eyes, technology doesn’t seem to be advancing that fast. See, we grew up at the same time Apple did. At the same rate Google and Microsoft did. The pace of new technological advancements is about as routine as our birthday coming around every year. And it’s allowed us to be a pretty rare breed. Yes, we are different. But don’t you dare tell me I’m a Millennial.

As I mentioned before, I believe the term Millennial comes from the stereotypes derived from the post-turn of the century kids. All these kids know is digital. This group of kids was seven years old when the first iPhone came out. Is it their fault? Not to me it isn’t. It’s the result of being thrust into a rapidly advancing, tech dependent world and having a cell phone in their hands since 1st grade (that’s not an exaggeration, see the link at the bottom**). Look, our society is convenience oriented. Everything is about what makes things easier and faster. Is it any surprise that it has rubbed off on the very kids that are in their peak of susceptibility? Call it lazy if you want, I call it the effects of their environment. And everything is faster and easier. My cell phone (or mini-computer, however you look at it) has the capability to do anything I want and more. It houses the ability to connect with anyone I know in about 30 different ways. It’s no wonder these kids live and breathe social media. When everyone is connected to everyone else at all times, it’s easy to want to keep attention on yourself (after all, they are the youngest sibling; attention is everything). Has it implanted an entitled “me, me, me” loop track in these kids heads? Gen X seems to think so. And I’m inclined to agree. This is what is scaring employers and causing feelings of regurgitation every time they encounter a so called Millennial.

Sure, call me bitter. I think all of us 90s kids are. We are sick of being grouped into all these Millennials stereotypes. But it is not us. I suppose it’s our fault we’re included in this. We’ve had our heads down, working hard to build a name for ourselves. Haven’t heard of us? Well you’re about to. We are the kids from the 90’s. And we’re about to step out from behind our siblings and shake up the world.

*This article expresses the opinions of a possibly bias student born in the 90’s.

** http://abc7chicago.com/technology/study-53%-of-kids-get-a-cell-phone-at-age-6/637197/

Written by Devon Dietrich, senior at the University of Montana majoring in Marketing, Management, and Psychology.







Social Media and the Internet: A Retrospective

Vector Visuals: “It’s a bird, no, it’s a plane, no, it’s a UAV”- by Tyler Christianson

From the death of my vehicle to creating Montana history to panic room train shooting to me doing my best Stephen Colbert impression, Vector Visuals first project was a huge success.


Vector Visuals, a newly started media production company, has recently finished filming its first commercial this past weekend with an up and coming made in Montana UAV business known as Skyyfish.  The project all started in 1996 when 5-year-old Tyler ignored property signs and started playing in a big pile of dirt.  Eventually, that pile of dirt would become one of my life long friends house, Austin Schweitzer.  Schweitzer is head of sales and marketing for Skyyfish.  A month ago Schweitzer and I discussed our businesses and how we could collaborate with one another.  Before you know it, I’m skipping my capstone marketing class (which I’m sure was content filled with random facts about Georgians birth cycles and how Google will one-day rule the world), to meet the owner, CEO and rest of the Skyyfish team.  The meeting was at the Mustard Seed.  The Mustard Seed seems like a great place to have a meeting, but the thing is, I’m a picky eater and I’m not a huge fan of chineese food.  I prefer being called selective eater, but whatever!  So I did my best mature adult impression and I tried healthy new goods.  It was delicious.  Between eating peas and sweet shrimp, I conversed with John Livingston the owner and Orest Pilskalns the CEO.  The table was filled with intelligence, including the UAV engineer, Dan Reed.  I was a little overwhelmed, but I kept the eye on the prize and not the alien looking chicken sauce.  After frantic phone calls with one of my cinematographers, Colter Olmstead, I figured out a bargaining zone price to present to John.  I learned about bargaining zones from my Chineese teacher, Fengru Li, and I was first implementing the knowledge in a chineese restaurant.  Funny how life comes full circle and in such an ironic manner.  After the lunch was finished, Skyyfish and Vector Visuals had a tentative plan to film a promotional video with the potential to be the best commercial video to come out of Montana.  Not only that, I had just tried new vegetables.  It was a good day.



As producer, I continued to work with Skyyfish and the rest of the Vector Visuals team to come up with a list of location sites, receive permission to film at the locations, filming dates that work for the entire filing crew, and of course, the weather.  The list of locations was created from both Skyyfish and Vector Visuals.  The teamwork from both sides would even put the San Antonio Spurs in awe.  Everyone did their own work and even helped each other in this long pre production process.  Orest and myself both tackled receiving permission for filming Lady of the Rockies.  At first, I was talking with the Lady of Rockies board of directors to obtain permission, but Orest was the closer in the deal.  Orest had a personal family connection to the Lady of the Rockies because his deceased sister loved the Lady of the Rockies when she was a young girl.  Not go go too much into detail, but when Orest shared that story with me, filming the beauty of the Lady was important to me too.  More about filming the Lady, later.  Receiving permissions to film the other sites was relatively easy, but required time and collaboration between the Skyyfish side and Vector Visuals.  After the Skype calls, board calls, repetitive permission calls, date planning, and weather watching, the pre-production was over.  Now time for the fun part, filming.  Lights, camera, broken car, action.

Lady of the Rockies

IMG_2640I wouldn’t call myself a religious man, but I believe in some type of higher power.  So when my car over heated while I was driving up to one of the most powerful religious statues in the world, I reevaluated my life a little.  By reevaluate, I mean calling my insurance company.  Talk about a godsend!  Orest was nice enough to turn around and drive Colter  and myself up the rest of the way to the Lady of the Rockies.  The Lady is a statue in Butte, MT that was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The statue was created by Bob O’Bill after he prayed to God asking to save his wife’s life who had cancer.  O’Bill’s wife survived and O’Bill funded the building of the Lady of the Rockies in 1979 to create the largest statue in America, other than the Statue of Liberty.  So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.  Being the first filming and UAV organizations to obtain permission to film the Lady is a historic point in time.   Both teams can’t believe how lucky we are to hold this title.  The footage we were able to record is breath taking, so be sure to keep an eye out for it at vectorvisuals.com and skyyfish.com.  The first shoot took four hours and collaboration from both Vector and Skyyfish was needed in order to create such an accomplishment.  After the Lady, both teams were off to Helena, with a short tow truck pit stop.

Helena Motorcross Track
motobikeThe motocross shoot in Helena was my baby, and I’m not great with babies so I was keeping my fingers crossed! No dead babies on my watch.  Dedicating 3 hours of driving time for one hour of footage was a big deal and I had a lot of anxiety when we were thirty minutes behind schedule to begin with.  Luckily, I have a buddy who is one of the best riders in Montana and he has a buddy who was also very talented, or as riders say, he’s gnarly.  Both riders said the course was really squirrelly to ride, but all I know is the footage we captured was nuts.  Multiple UAV’s from both Big Sky UAV (cooperating UAV provider) and Skyyfish flying at 30 mph over your head and two professional motocross riders riding at 60 mph at sunset was something you don’t easily forget.  Telephone lines limited our shooting abilities, but the shoot was still my personal favorite.  Then again, I wasn’t there for the filming of the train trestle bridge, which was the most hectic five minutes of the shoot.

Marent Train Trestle Bridge

IMG_0666The Lady of the Rockies is 90 feet tall, but the Marent Train Trestle bridge we filmed at is 226 feet.  This filming location was so implausible at first because the odds of obtaining permission to film on private land and time the oncoming train was equal to the odds of me eating vegetables on a daily basis, and you know how much I hate peas.  Incredibly luckily, Orests’ wife, who was driving by the train tracks a couple miles up the road saw the train coming and gave the filming crew a call.  Vector Visuals cinematographer, Zane Clampett, described shooting the train passing by and having to record the whole event as taking the last shot in a basketball game as the buzzer goes off.  The whole filming crew had to be on point to get the footage we wanted, and it turned out we went all Steph Curry on that train.  The UAV had to go almost 300 feet in the air and the crew had to track wherever the UAV went.  The end result turned out to be movie cinematic quality footage that I never thought was possible when first starting this project.  Any commercial businesses wanting to film/or use UAVs needs to look into purchasing through Skyyfish.  Industry leading machines with great operators and impeccable software, but enough plugging from me for now.  Before this project, I never thought waiting on a train could be so much fun.  From the worst of car luck to the best of train luck, we then filmed the UM ultimate Frisbee team.

Ultimate Frisbee

ZANE_FILM_2Filming the UM Ultimate team was great to have in our video because you can actually see human faces/tops of heads in the video.  Sometimes UAVS or drones can have a negative connotation, but these machines are helping make simple and difficult tasks easier for individuals.  They should be looked at and treated as so.  In the video you’ll be able to see some great shots of team huddles and scrimmages from the practice.  Thanks to the UM team for allowing us to film the hard work they put in everyday.  As a producer, I wasn’t sure what I was in store for when starting the shoot.  Let’s just say I turned out to be the Charlie Kelly in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Wild Card, b****es!  I helped film, annoyed people to sign release forms, coordinated between the two businesses, created contracts, set up filming sites, help hold filming equipment, held pretty much anything I was told to, interviewed the Skyyfish team, argued, and played the bongos.  When you don’t have one specific talent, you’ll have to learn to be the utility belt of the team.  I loved helping with anything I could because the two teams I worked with were very respectful and worked hard at everything they did.  So after all this rambling, what do I have to show you? Nothing…yet.  Soon, I will be able to show you one of the best business promotional videos you have ever seen from your very own state, Montana.


Follow yours truly @bonestharipper.  You can also add either Skyyfish or Vector Visuals on Facebook.  The video of this trend setting project should come out by mid November.  Tell your friends about it, they won’t want to miss it.