Fraternity aspires to gain official status
Sigma Pi, a fraternity trying to make its way back onto campus, will offer young men interested in greek life an opportunity to impact the University and shape the fraternity in its earliest stages.
The group of students, with help from the Sigma Pi national chapter and alumni, hopes to recruit members and reach chapter status as founding members create their identity at the University.
“Instead of walking into a fraternity and learning their ways, we get to sculpt Sigma Pi into what we want it to be,” said Jordan Zuber, fraternity president.
Zuber and Ethan Arbuthnot, the fraternity’s vice president, started the project last year and traveled to the Sigma Pi headquarters in Tennessee over the summer, he said.
The general council and fraternity alumni have guided them through the process, Zuber said.
“The hardest thing will be establishing the identity of the group,” said Adrian Rodgers, expansion director at Sigma Pi.
Joann Arnholt, dean at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA), said some students do not realize how hard projects like this can be.
“We expect that they’ll be going after whatever the national council has laid out before charter gets granted,” Arnholt said.
Arnholt said she was excited about the new colony, but thinks the members need to focus on recruitment.
Sigma Pi’s University colony must complete a small checklist before it is elevated to “chapter” status, the largest being the Altruistic Campus Experience (ACE) project, Rodgers said.
Sigma Pi’s ACE project is a philanthropic event designed to serve the needs of a specific campus, according to their website. At one university, Sigma Pi stocked a local food pantry for two years during a food shortage.
Besides the ACE project, recruiting members is the colony’s primary goal at the moment, Rodgers said.
“I want someone who wants to be a leader, wants to get up and start something and be recognized for that,” he said.
As expansion director, Rodgers said he helps colonies across the United States and Canada establish fraternities. He visited the University for two weeks in the summer to train, recruit and meet each “founding father,” or undergraduate members of the fraternity when it was colonized.
“I gave them all a rundown on what it would be like to be a founding father,” Rodgers said. “It went very, very well. We had a lot of interest in the group.”
Joining Sigma Pi has the potential to be a life changing experience, Rodgers said.
“It’s a tremendous confidence booster to be able to step into situation, go through all the work [and] come out as a founding father or initiated brother,” he said.
To become a Sigma Pi brother, young men will have to pledge, which involves eight weeks of assignments and tasks designed to integrate new members with current ones, said Paul Gorman, the colony’s grand herald.
Gorman is concerned with the civil pledge process.
“I told them to ‘think about your sister, how would you want her to be treated?’” Gorman said. “I’m not saying don’t have fun, but be respectful.”
Gorman said he is aware of the “frat” stereotype. From his experiences running risk-management workshops, he has always avoided the well-known “going out and drinking” lifestyle.
“I didn’t realize what a great leader I could be until the day after I got into Sigma Pi,” he said.
But Gorman has also seen his fraternity make mistakes — Sigma Pi’s University chapter lost their charter a few years ago because of members who were not cut out for Sigma Pi, he said.
“My main concern is that the new group gets to have a fresh start and not have old reputations or lingering members around,” Rodgers said.
But optimism overshadows the challenges for members as the fraternity assembles its chairmen, committees and a treasurer to establish their respective budgets, he said.
“We get to start with nothing and build this business,” said Mike Simone, a fraternity member.