Delta Zeta and Lambda Chi Alpha statue update


Progress of the Delta Zeta and Lambda Chi Alpha as of Feb. 1 Photo taken by Conlan Houston

Lila M. Johnson

Sororities and fraternities pair up every year in order to participate in Winter Carnival’s month-long statue building competition. As the Bernard Family Clock Tower on Michigan Tech’s campus strikes midnight on January 1, building can commence. 

Third-year mechanical engineering student Rachel Ruman is working on her first month-long statue this year with her sorority, Delta Zeta. Sororities and fraternities pair up in order to complete statues because the month-long statue building requires more time and commitment than just one group can commit. Delta Zeta is partnered with Lambda Chi Alpha this year. 

“Either we will reach out to a fraternity, or they will reach out to us,” Ruman said about the process of pairing up with a fraternity. “We then discuss and vote on it as a chapter”. 

The real work begins after deciding who to work with. There is a very specific process for creating and sculpting a statue. This process has been widely-adopted and is in place so that the foundation of the statue is able to support the weight of the snow and ice adornments. 

There are a few pieces of specific equipment that assist in the statue-creation process. One of the most important is the “form” – a hollow square mold typically composed of four pieces of plywood ratchet-strapped together. Forms are used in the initial stages of building a statue. They are filled with snow and water and then stomped down by builders in order to create the earliest pieces of the construction. 

“You start by building your forms, then you get giant blocks of snow. Afterwards, you start detailing to make it look like the envisioned design,” Ruman said. 

After creating the blocks, pieces are carved and shaped in order to resemble the target design. The end of the process includes smoothing out shapes with hot irons to create a gleam, and using pieces of ice as embellishments such as eyes, bolts, or other items that might be reflective in real life. 

Creating a statue is something that no one person can accomplish, and losing motivation can mean that the statue won’t be done to the best of everyones’ abilities. Working together is the only way the forms can be created, snow stomped down, and statues completed. 

“It takes a lot of dedication and teamwork,” Ruman said. 

Because it is a competition, the theme of the statue is kept tightly under wraps throughout the entire process. Although Blue Key ensures that no two organizations have the same design, it is still something that people and organizations keep to themselves.


Many of the sororities have a bottled response they repeat when asked what they are making. It’s the same answer, year after year, in order to protect what they’re building. Delta Zeta is no exception. 

“It’s an upside-down school bus on fire,” Ruman said.