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October 22, 2008 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-22

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I C h Mchgn.aiy- edesdy, c0oer 2, 008

Wedneday, ctobr 22,20:8 -hMiignD ly 3

The party must go on
By Trevor Calero 0 Daily Staff Writer

Beta Omega
Chi, the faux
f rat
It all started on a quiet Sunday after-
noon in a West Quad dorm room, a couple
of guys nursing a hangover and tossing
back a few beers, trying to decide where
they were going to live the next year.
And now, seven years later, a house
stands on State Street, among fraternity
senior houses and other football Satur-
day pregame hot spots, with the letters
BOX above its door. Modeled in jest after
its Greek neighbors, the "fake frat" Beta
Omega Chi, pronounced "box," has been
passed down through three generations of
residents who were selected by their pre-
decessors to protect the sacred trust of the
BOX house brotherhood: huge parties.
Engineering senior Brian Russel, who
lives in BOX house now, said the house's
original residents were a large group of
friends who decided not to rush fraterni-
ties but wanted a similar lifestyle.
"It was kind of anti-frat," he said. "It
was, why would I pay money to be in a frat
when I can just make my own friends and
do whatever I want, have all the benefits
of being in a frat without actually being in
a frat?"
John Mittelbaclk, who helped start
the "fake frat" with longtime friend Tom
Champion in 2001, said the BOX house
was founded on principles of unconven-
tionality and creativity.
"The whole idea behind BOX was to
provide a forum for novel behavior and
friendship," Mittelbach said.
The group, originally made up of more
than 40 people, bought a couple of houses
in the same area, one on Arch Street, a
house on Hoover and another on McKin-
ley, with the main location at 933 State
Street - the house known today as the
original BOX house.
Beyond just novelty, BOX housers take
their house traditions seriously, and in
their few short years of existence they
have racked up enough of them to rival
any fraternity.
From keg walking, the house's way of
discarding empty kegs by riding them -
logrolling style - across State Street, to
street dancing, where housemates crowd
the intersection of State and Hoover and
jump around every time OutKast's "Hey
Ya" comes on at one of their tailgates,
it takes a special skill set to live at BOX

Beta Omega Chi, known as BOX house, hand picks residents to carry on the tailgating tradition.

But rather than the many pregame ritu-
als involving massive amounts of alcohol,
Mittelbach said his favorite tradition
doesn't require a keg.
"Although the BOX house might be best
known for the partying, one of my favor-
ite traditions was the Thanksgiving din-
ner we had," he said. "BOX members from
the various houses we lived in were each
responsible for a dish, which led to a meal
of epic proportions."
Over the years, the BOX house has often
been mistaken times for a real fraternity,
at times attracting freshmen asking how
to get a bid.
"Some people really confuse it with a

real frat house," Russel said,
"Especially guys who visit here from
other schools. They'll come up to the
house, 'hey, this is a cool house, we don't
have you on our campus."'
In the end, although he said he doesn't
"explicitly hate frats," Russel said he's
glad he doesn't live in a real fraternity
"I walked by one of the frats on State
Street one time on my way to class and I
just saw all these pledges outside raking
leaves," he said. "If you need to rake some-
body's leaves for them to accept you, why
don't you just come down to BOX house
and have a beer. I'll buy you a beer."

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