It started out nearly 50 years ago as a joke among a small band of newfound friends at Fayette Campus. Despite enjoying their college experience at Upper Iowa University, a group of young women agreed there was no sorority on Campus that offered the type of opportunities they desired, so they decided to create their own organization.
On October 19, 1969, the friends — Marcia Andrews ‘79, Chris (Lamy) DeLong, Pam (Tenney) Bentzinger, Deb (Stueber) Smalley, Kerry (Palmer) Walker, Deb (Schmitz) Hummel, Regina Rundell ‘73, Diane (Kinkead) Harms ‘73 and Melanie (Fantino) Wilson — gathered together to form a new all-women Campus organization.
With the decision to move forward, the founding members realized they needed to create a name. Ironically, E.Y.E. was chosen after it was decided to have someone close her eyes and point to a word in the dictionary. With the decision not to become an official sorority, the only involvement of administrators was in the creation of the organization’s constitution.
“It was a different time then,” Andrews said. “We were children of the ‘60s. There were a bunch of freshmen ‘T-shirt’ groups, and others (organizations) like the Foxes, SOB, and Bushes, but we felt they were all restricted by University rules. Dean of Students (Braulic “Cabby”) Cabellero was a big fan of ours. He would always remind me that whenever we were going to do something, he would need to know where we were at.”
Andrews, who served as the group’s first president, admitted that the group was initially known for its parties but that soon changed. Despite not being a recognized social organization at UIU, the members still chose to contribute to the University.
E.Y.E. provided dinner services for administrative and other social functions, raised funds for UIU improvements and projects (including the purchase of a stereo for Graf Hall in 1972), and actively participated in other events and activities. With sponsorship provided by the UIU Science Club, the group won the 1971 Homecoming Float Contest and a year later its Winter Carnival Talent Show entry earned first prize.
“We took the 100 bucks we won in the parade and ran,” former E.Y.E. president Becky (Harms) Read ’74 laughed. “Those were definitely fun times. The float included a Peacock that’s head moved up and down, and due to popular demand our talent show entry was invited to come back the following year to perform.”
With Becky’s father, Mel, and his twin brother, Cal, and Becky’s cousins, Steve and Tom, each attending the University, she grew up a Peacock fan in nearby Sumner, Iowa.
“At first, I applied everywhere but UIU,” Read said. “However, it was a no brainer, and coming to UIU turned out to be the best choice I ever made.”
In the case of Andrews, if not for her decision to take a detour to UIU’s Fayette Campus, she would not have attended the University let alone helped form E.Y.E.
“I was on my way to visit University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse with my mom when we decided to stop at UIU,” Andrews said. “After an hour on the beautiful Fayette Campus, I decided there wasn’t any reason to travel further. The people were so friendly and I could easily walk across campus to find all of the buildings I would be attending. I made so many friends during my time at UIU. We were a tight group of girls that continue to share a lifetime of friendships and memories.”
That family atmosphere continues to pass down to future generations. Current E.Y.E. treasurer Kayla Siemens first heard of the organization from her grandmother and founding member Deb (Schmitz) Hummel.
“My grandma definitely influenced my choice on joining E.Y.E.,” Siemens said. “What really made me want to join was all of the entertaining stories she shared and that all the members remain close friends. I knew if E.Y.E. was anything like it was back in her day, I wanted to join.”
Siemens not only fit in with the other members when she first attended an E.Y.E. social, but also was quickly impressed with the group’s support of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other awareness campaigns.
“I think people should consider joining E.Y.E. because it is a great way to get involved on campus while gaining lifelong friendships,” the accounting and financial management major from Allison, Iowa, said. “We are a small group of girls who like to spend a lot of time together. I know if I ever need anything, I can always count on one of my sisters.”
These lifetime friendships have attributed to E.Y.E being the only UIU student group to operate continuously for the past five decades. To celebrate this legacy, E.Y.E. will host a 50th anniversary reunion Friday, September 27–Saturday, September 28, at Fayette Campus. For more information or to RSVP, contact Andrews at 563-425-4291 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, no texting.