Wade Kendle writes in the December issue of Nebraska's Masonic News about a new Masonic student group on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Linclon (UNL). From "Registered Student Organization forming on the campus of UNL":
Over the past month or so, it has been my honor and privilege to help start the ball rolling for the formation of a Registered Student Organization (RSO) on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln called “The Freemasons of UNL”. As of today, a Letter of Intent has been filed and accepted with the student government with 5 student signatures, all Freemasons, and the organization’s faculty advisor, M.W.B. James F. Brown Jr., Professor of Accounting.
We have two other UNL faculty lined up who will be secondary advisors to the organization. From the acceptance of the Letter of Intent, the organization has 90 days to file a constitution with the student government. Within 14 days after the constitution is received, a committee from the student government (ASUN) will decide whether the constitution is in good order and the group
can meet as an official RSO.
Assuming all goes well with the constitution, we hope to have the group approved and meeting as an RSO early spring 2012.
It has been many years since there was a student organization comprised of Master Masons on UNL’s campus. In fact, Acacia
Fraternity, founded in 1904, was the last to have such a membership requirement and Acacia dropped its Masonic membership requirement in 1933. The Acacia Chapter on UNL’s campus is the oldest existing Acacia Chapter, being the fourth Chapter founded. Recently, Nebraska Chapter has run into hard times, having to rent out the Fraternity’s house due to low membership. In speaking with the national office, they are living once more in their house on Vine Street, but there are currently less than ten active members of Acacia in the house. Hopefully the RSO and Acacia can work together in some way to the benefit of both organizations. I’ve attempted to contact the Chapter Advisor concerning the RSO but I have yet to speak to him.
Membership in the RSO will not be limited to Freemasons. It will be open to any student who is interested in learning more about the Masons, their history, the appendant bodies, and, if so motivated, joining the larger Fraternity. Per UNL RSO guidelines, there can be non-student members, though only UNL student members have voting rights and are allowed to hold office. Our current thought is to allow non-student members but require them to be dues paying members of an adult body, either Blue Lodge or Eastern Star. Quite a bit of thought has gone into developing the structure of the organization. While space does not permit me to publish the proposed constitution, I can tell you I’m excited and encouraged by the positive comments I’ve had helping to get the group started. Our founding members hold Masonic memberships in Lincoln, Weeping Water, and Las Vegas, NV. I’ve been privileged to cross paths with them at some point in time, even helping to raise two of them.
The benefits of having a student group on campus are enormous! A RSO can sponsor events on campus and have a booth at Big Red Welcome. I’ve been a member of the Grand Lodge’s Public Relations Committee and the Grand Chapter’s Youth Committee when conversation turned to how we can engage Masonic Youth on college campuses across Nebraska.
We seem to lose our Youth during the college years and relatively few of them go on to join our adult bodies. Hopefully the RSO
will be a place Masonic Youth can congregate and help bridge the gap between the youth groups and adult organizations. We also hope UNL’s RSO can serve as a template for the formation of others at UNO, UNK, Peru State, Wayne State, and Chadron State. Though, assuming RSO requirements are the same from campus to campus, the largest hurdle to overcome will be finding enough college students who are Master Masons to sign the Letter of Intent. My Blue Lodge is in the process of raising one attending Peru State, but that’s only one.
If you are a college student or know of a college student who would like more information about “The Freemasons of UNL”, contact myself or chapter advisor M.W.B. James F. Brown Jr.
H/T to Greg Prososki