In the 1950s, Chris Chesnut’s great-grandfather taught at the University of Idaho and is the namesake for Alfred Bowers Laboratory in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Now, Chesnut is trying to leave his own mark on the university. Chesnut, a senior, is the current president of the Interfraternity Council, an active member of the Greek system and a student in UI’s Virtual Technology and Design program.
Chesnut said his parents didn’t go to college. However, his grandparents are both graduates of the UI and the Greek system.
“They’re a large part of why I got involved in the Greek system,” he said. “But also I was just looking to be a part of something.”
Chesnut signed up for rush his freshman year — he said recruitment was what sold him on the idea. Chesnut joined Sigma Nu, the same fraternity his grandfather was in.
Chesnut, who will officially be replaced as IFC president in January, started his involvement with IFC as president of his chapter.
“I really saw a lot (of) opportunity there and I thought this would be my chance to give back to the Greek houses,” Chesnut said. “So I ran for IFC to really try and push that advocacy and collaboration for the houses, and to try and create a better environment for the chapters that was more accountable, more involved and had a set mission.”
IFC is the governing body for all fraternities on campus and includes elected officials from the houses.
“I didn’t think we were really utilizing our mission very well,” he said. “I’m very passionate about the Greek system and I thought I could leave it in a better place.”
Chesnut, 22, grew up with a large family in Lewiston, Idaho — four siblings, eight step-siblings and two half-siblings.
As a high school student, Chesnut was part of the track team. He won State all four years and set a high school record in the 400-meter dash.
“I did mostly track, but also cross country and I played soccer,” Chesnut said.
On top of his extracurricular activities, Chesnut managed to graduate high school with a 3.5 GPA.
Chesnut will graduate in May with a degree in virtual technology and design and a minor in mechanical engineering.
“I really was interested in the concept of innovation and pushing the level of creativity,” Chesnut said. “Virtual and technology design offered that. It was really the freedom to innovate and the freedom to challenge the real and the tangible with virtual copies.”
In his spare time, Chesnut said he enjoys doing outdoor activities — backpacking and riding his motorcycle.
“He loves intensity, he loves to do a lot of extreme activities,” said John Lampert, a Sigma Nu member. “I think that translates well into his presidency because he keeps things at a fast pace, not just for himself but for the other IFC members as well.”
Lampert and Chesnut are in the same pledge class and have known each other for four years.
“He’s just an intense guy — and he really likes to improve on what he’s part of,” Lampert said. “He has a vision on the way things should go and I think he really enjoys seeing it through and implementing something bigger than himself.”
Applications for all IFC positions are due Nov. 3 and elections will take place Nov. 10.
Aaron Bharucha can be reached at email@example.com