Better House, Better Emphasis — Phi Mu house set to transform to new Umbrella House

The Phi Mu house has been empty since the sorority lost its charter during the 2009-2010 school year.  New plans for the empty house have been set in motion.

Over summer 2011, the city condemned the current house for Umbrella. While still used this year, Albion College deemed it structurally unstable and unsuitable for use.

The group and the college began to look for a house suitable to use and they settled on the old Phi Mu house. While most sororities own their houses through national executive boards, Albion College owns the Phi Mu house.

The current Umbrella house, located next to Wesley, is situated further from campus than most, thus influencing the member participation. The Phi Mu house is located between the Alpha Chi Omega and Kappa Alpha Theta houses on Cass Street.

“I think it’ll be good to have club closer, and in general more stability, and it’ll be easier for people to find which will do a lot for group membership,” said Cari Drolet, Clarkston senior and vice president of Umbrella.  “We’ve had a lot of trouble with that in the past.  The current house is in the far corner of the campus and no one really knows that it’s part of the campus.”

The house is the first announcement relating to the 2012-2013 year of diversity. The theme year includes different events highlighting diversity and improvements on diversity around the campus.

“It’s so exciting, too, because it’s a great way to introduce incoming freshman,” said Brian Weiss, Livonia junior and former treasurer for Umbrella. “The mission statement of the Umbrella club is centered on maintaining organizations that allow people of minority backgrounds to feel comfortable and be in a space where they don’t have to worry about external pressures. I think moving the club to a more spacious, nicer house will probably expand on that.”

In a symbolic move for the organization, current members hope for greater campus involvement at the new location.

“It’s really been an awkward coincidence that all of the diversity groups are in this corner of the campus where no one knows,” said Harriet Groenleer, Grand Rapids junior. “We really feel like it’ll help us connect with the campus which we feel like has been a big challenge.”

With renovations and clearance from the college, the house is set to open for events in the fall.

 Photo by Ben Iwen, staff photographer

[Edited Mar 29]
About Lauren Ridenour 21 Articles
Lauren Ridenour is a senior from Troy, Michigan, majoring in English and Anthropology/Sociology. Interested in features and campus issues, she has written and edited for the paper for three years.


  1. Wow! I graduated when there was no Umbrella club, and the house next to Wesley Hall was the new Sherwood house (substance abuse/health awareness student org). It was amazing to see how much things change in 15 years, but the social consciousness of students is still there, just taking a different form. Thanks for the update – I’ll have to see it for myself come Homecoming or before!

  2. Ooookay. So, “Umbrella club” is not actually a real thing. This is how Umbrella is set up:

    There are twelve organizations, each focused on a different aspect of diversity, called Umbrella Organizations. These organizations include, but are not limited to: Black Student Alliance (BSA), Power (the women’s organization, which Cari Drolet represents), and Hillel (the Jewish Student organization, which Brian Weiss represents). Students can, of course, be members of and represent more than one organization. There is one over-arching organization that oversees the twelve Umbrella Organizations. This organization is called (wait for it) Umbrella. Umbrella is not another diversity group; rather, it handles the affairs of the twelve diversity groups it presides over. The Umbrella E-board are members of any of the twelve Umbrella Organizations, elected by students who are members of Umbrella Organizations.

    There is no such thing as “Umbrella club,” and Brian Weiss is not it.

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