Northwestern’s Evans Scholars is attempting to separate from the IFC, as it is completely separate from Greek life. (Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern)
Northwestern’s Evans Scholars is attempting to separate from the IFC, as it is completely separate from Greek life.

Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

The Evans Scholarship House: an entirely singular Northwestern residential experience

April 27, 2022

Tucked away in the sorority quad, the Evans Scholarship House hosts more than 40 students required to live on campus for all four years with one shared experience: golf caddying.

The Evans Scholarship is awarded yearly by the Western Golf Association to high school seniors and college freshmen with caddying experience, academic achievement, leadership qualities and financial need. NU is one of about 20 schools nationwide that participate in the program but was the first institution to award the scholarship in 1930, when amateur golfer Chick Evans (NU ’1913) created the fund to send caddies to college.  

Though women have been eligible for the scholarship since 1954, it wasn’t until 2010 that they were allowed to move into the Evans Scholarship House. The building is affiliated with the Interfraternity Council — a relationship that dates back to the 1970s. 

Weinberg junior and Evans Scholar Britney Pham was part of the Chicago-based WGA Caddie Academy — which works to encourage women to join the male-dominated profession. 

“The whole reason why I caddied was to get a scholarship here,” Pham said. “I was basing off my decisions on the Evans Scholarship so I was looking at other schools too, but Northwestern was … one of my top (choices).”

Social life in the house

Though scholars are assigned classwide orientation groups their freshman year, their living experience is quite unique. Most freshmen live in dormitories with randomized students, while Evans Scholars freshmen move in with those they’ll spend up to the next four years with.

This makes the Evans Scholarship House community relatively secluded from the rest of campus, according to Medill senior and previous Evans Scholars President Olivia Evans. 

Although the program’s upperclassmen encouraged her to make friends around campus, Evans said she spent most of her time with her housemates, making it hard to connect with others on campus.

This experience was also exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, incoming freshmen like this year’s Evans Scholars president David Wells had an entirely different experience.

Wells, now a Weinberg sophomore, said COVID-19 created an even more secluded environment for Evans Scholars, but he valued living with upperclassmen.

“Living with seniors was super impactful and helpful because they had so much experience they could share,” Wells said. “Especially last year, I valued that. It was really nice to have during COVID.”

Typically, the house puts on social events ranging from paint nights to formals for scholars and their invitees, according to Pham.

“Freshman year, I felt like I didn’t have a sense of community, but with Evans there was,” she said. “There’s a circle of us that would appreciate each other … my roommate is one of my closest friends here.”

Navigating meal plans and working in Greek life

Prior to the pandemic, Evans Scholars could purchase a meal plan — unless it was covered by financial aid — or work for their meals by performing kitchen duties inside sorority houses.

Students who work for their meals, like Evans, earn two meals a day during the weekdays on top of a paid salary.

There are steep socioeconomic differences between sorority members and the Evans Scholars who work for them. According to Wells, Evans Scholars are the only members of Fraternity & Sorority Life who work for other people in FSL.

“Sororities are typically associated with more upper class … and we’re on low-income scholarships,” he said. “There were a lot of differences there that really stood out.”

Evans also said working for her peers within sorority houses created a “weird dynamic.” 

For her, the idea of befriending classmates she worked for felt abnormal. 

“There were some times where I would be doing a work shift and then would go to class with people that I was washing their dishes,” Evans said. “It felt awkward for some reason.”

Since the pandemic began, Evans Scholars have not been able to to work for meals due to COVID-19 restrictions.

While scholars received free meal plans during the 2020-21 school year, they have had the option of purchasing a meal plan since the start of this year. 

However, food options outside of the meal plan are relatively limited: the house does not have a kitchen, so only microwavable and ready-to-eat meals are viable. Still, Pham said she didn’t purchase a meal plan due to cost.

“It’s kind of not the best diet, but it is what it is,” Pham said.

Seeking removal from the IFC

Since the early 1970s, NU’s Evans Scholars chapter has been part of IFC on campus. Back then, Wells said, on-campus Evans Scholars consisted entirely of men who were “a lot more fratty” and joined IFC to feel more connected to NU. 

Today, he said, their relationship with Greek life is virtually nonexistent. The house is co-ed, and incoming scholars do not participate in a rush process. 

During FSL meetings, Evans Scholars have unsuccessfully attempted to create a council within FSL that would only include themselves and the music-interest Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. 

Evans Scholars have previously been impacted actions outside of their control due to their connection to the IFC. When alleged druggings at campus fraternity houses in fall 2021 resulted in a social ban on all chapter events, the Evans Scholarship House was punished.

Until recently, scholars had to pay dues to IFC, Wells added. The Evans Scholarship House has also attempted to separate itself from Greek life by moving off campus. 

However, Wells said the lease for an off-campus house would have to fit within the WGA’s budget as the organization is already paying for their current building.

According to Wells, other Evans Scholarship Houses across the U.S. are not associated with their campus Greek scenes. 

“It’s definitely a lot more difficult working with Northwestern and FSL in general,” Wells said. “It’s kind of felt like you’re just stuck emailing people and waiting for responses and you never really ever get to talk to people.”

Evans said disassociating from Greek life has been an ongoing goal since she came to NU.

“I have optimism, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a lot longer than it should,” she said. 

Clarification: The reported incidents at campus fraternity houses were alleged druggings. A previous version of this article did not clarify they were alleged. 

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Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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