|Founded||June 28, 1855
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
|Scope||United States and Canada|
|Motto||In Hoc Signo Vinces ("In This Sign You Shall Conquer")|
|Colors||Old GoldBlue and|
|Symbol||The White Cross|
|Publication||The Magazine of Sigma Chi|
|Philanthropy||Children's Miracle Network and Huntsman Cancer Institute|
|Chapters||242 undergraduate, 152 alumni|
300,000+ lifetime
|Headquarters||1714 Hinman Avenue
Evanston, Illinois, United States
Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) is a social fraternity in North America. The fraternity has 244 active chapters across the United States and Canada and has initiated more than 300,000 members. The fraternity was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio by members who split from the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Sigma Chi is divided into five operational entities: the Sigma Chi Fraternity, the Sigma Chi Foundation, the Risk Management Foundation, Constantine Capital Inc., and Blue and Gold Travel Services.
Like all fraternities, Sigma Chi has its own colors, insignia, and rituals. According to the fraternity's constitution, "the purpose of this fraternity shall be to cultivate and maintain the high ideals of friendship, justice, and learning upon which Sigma Chi was founded".
- 1 History
- 2 Nomenclature and insignia
- 3 Pledging
- 4 Organization of the fraternity
- 5 Leadership Programs
- 6 Philanthropy
- 7 Awards
- 8 Publications
- 9 Notable Sigs
- 10 Undergraduate chapters
- 11 Alumni chapters
- 12 See also
- 13 Footnotes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Several members of Miami University's Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter (of which all but one of Sigma Chi's founders were members) were also members of the Erodelphian Literary Society. In the fall of 1854 this society was to pick its Poet, and a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon was nominated for the position. He was supported by five of his brothers, but four others (James Caldwell, Isaac Jordan, Benjamin Runkle, and Franklin Scobey) instead supported another man who was not a member of the fraternity. Thomas Bell and Daniel Cooper were not members of Erodelphian, but had aligned themselves with the four members. The chapter had twelve members and so was evenly divided. Other differences might have been forgotten, but both sides saw this conflict as a matter of principle and over the next few months there came a distancing of their friendship.
The matter came to a head in February 1855, when, in an attempt to seal the rift, Runkle and his companions planned a dinner for their brothers. Only one of the other brothers who supported the Delta Kappa Epsilon member as poet arrived, Whitelaw Reid. With him, Reid brought a stranger named Minor Millikin who was an alumnus of Delta Kappa Epsilon from a nearby town. Reid had told Millikin his side of the dispute, and the arrived to punish Runkle, Scobey, and the rest. The leaders of the rebellion (Runkle and Scobey) were to be expelled from the fraternity. The other four, after being properly chastised, would be allowed to stay a part of the group. Runkle resigned, and after the parent chapter at Yale University was contacted, all six men were formally expelled.
The six men decided to form their own fraternity along with William Lewis Lockwood, a student from New York who had not joined a fraternity. On June 28, 1855, the organization was founded under the name Sigma Phi Fraternity. Lockwood had business training, and helped to organize the fraternity in its early years. The theft of Sigma Phi's constitution, rituals, seals, and other records from Lockwood's room in Oxford in January 1856 prompted the change of the name of the fraternity to Sigma Chi. Eventually, this action could have been forced upon the group as there was already a Sigma Phi Society.
Much of Sigma Chi's heraldry was inspired by the legendary story of the Emperor Constantine from the Battle of Milvian Bridge against Maxentius. The White Cross and the motto "In Hoc Signo Vinces" are examples of the Constantine link. Although many of the symbols of Sigma Chi relate to Christianity, Sigma Chi is not a Christian fraternity.
- Benjamin Piatt Runkle (September 3, 1836 – June 28, 1916) was born in West Liberty, Ohio. Runkle helped design the badge of Sigma Chi based on the story of Constantine and the vision of the cross. Runkle was known for having a fierce pride and was suspended from Miami University when he fought a member of Beta Theta Pi for sneering at his badge. When the Civil War began Runkle joined the Union Army. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Shiloh and left for dead on the battlefield. Runkle stayed in the army as a career and retired as a major general. After the army he was ordained an Episcopal priest. He was the only founder to serve as Grand Consul. He died on Sigma Chi's 61st birthday in Ohio. He is now buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
- Thomas Cowan Bell (May 14, 1832 – February 3, 1919) was born near Dayton, Ohio. He was twenty-three years old when Sigma Chi was founded, second oldest of the founders. He graduated from Miami University in 1857 and began teaching. In 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war he returned to his career in education, serving as the superintendent of schools in Nobles County, Minnesota as well as the principal and president of several preparatory and collegiate institutions in the Western United States. Bell died the day after attending the initiation of alpha beta chapter at University of California Berkeley on February 3, 1919. He is buried at the Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco National Cemetery in California. Section OS, Row 43A, Grave 3.
- William Lewis Lockwood (October 31, 1836 – August 17, 1867) was born in New York City. He was the only founder who had not been a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He was considered the "businessman" of the founders and managed the first chapter's funds and general operations, becoming the first treasurer of Sigma Chi. After graduating from Miami University in 1858 he moved back to New York and began work as a lawyer. He received serious wounds serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, from which he never fully recovered. He named his son after Franklin Howard Scobey.
- Isaac M. Jordan (May 5, 1835 – December 3, 1890) was born in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania as Isaac Alfred Jordan. His family later moved to Ohio where Jordan met Benjamin Piatt Runkle and became close friends. After graduating from Miami University in 1857 he went onto graduate school, where he graduated in 1862. He then began work as an attorney and was elected to the United States Congress in 1882. He proceeded to change his middle name, Alfred, to just the letter "M" to help distinguish himself from his brother and law partner, Jackson A. Jordan. He died in 1890 after accidentally falling down an elevator shaft while greeting a friend. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Daniel William Cooper (September 2, 1830 – December 11, 1920) was born near Fredericktown, Ohio. Cooper was the oldest founder and was elected the first consul of Sigma Chi. After graduating from Miami University in 1857 he became a Presbyterian minister. Cooper's original Sigma Phi badge came into the possession of the Fraternity at the time of his death. It is pinned on every new Grand Consul at their installation. Cooper is buried at the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Franklin Howard Scobey (May 27, 1837 – July 22, 1888) was born in Hamilton, Ohio. Scobey was considered The Spirit of Sigma Chi for being friendly with everybody and not just a select group of people. After graduating from Miami University in 1858 he went on to graduate again in 1861 with a law degree. He worked as a journalist in his hometown until 1879 but went on to become a cattleman in Kansas until 1882. Scobey then moved back to Ohio where he took up farming until his death. Never physically robust, Scobey was afflicted with hearing loss in his final years.
- James Parks Caldwell (March 27, 1841 – April 5, 1912) was born in Monroe, Ohio. By the age of thirteen Caldwell had completed all academics which could be offered at his local academy. He was then sent to Miami University with advanced credits. Caldwell was just fourteen at the time of the founding making him the youngest of the founders. After Caldwell graduated from Miami University in 1857 he practiced some law in Ohio but moved to Mississippi to begin a career as an educator. When the Civil War broke out he joined the Confederate Army. During the war he was taken prisoner but later, due to the influence of General Benjamin Piatt Runkle, was offered freedom on the condition that he renounce his allegiance to the Confederacy. He rejected this offer and remained loyal to the south. He was later released, again due to the influence of General Runkle. After the war he moved back to Mississippi and was admitted to the bar. He moved to California in 1867 and practiced law. In 1875 he began to travel frequently practicing law and editing newspapers. He died in Biloxi, Mississippi where the latest issues of The Sigma Chi Quarterly were found in his room.
Harry St. John Dixon, a brother from the Psi Chapter at the University of Virginia who fought for the Confederacy, kept a record of all Sigma Chis within his vicinity on the flyleaf of his diary during the American Civil War. He began planning a Confederate Army chapter of Sigma Chi with this information. On September 17, 1864 Dixon founded the Constantine Chapter of Sigma Chi during the Atlanta campaign with Harry Yerger, a brother from Mississippi who was in Dixon's division. Dixon stated the reasons for which the war-time chapter was created saying,
|“||It was ascertained that a number of the fraternity were in the army of Tennessee under General Joseph E. Johnston during the Atlanta campaign in 1864. It was conceded that the South was forever disunited from the general government, and it was assumed that all chapters throughout the South would cease to exist. Furthermore, it was deemed expedient that we brothers should know each other and our several commands for the purpose of relief in distress, and communication in a case of need, with our Northern brethren. In the ruin at hand my sentiment was to preserve the lofty principles typified by the White Cross. I know that I had no authority to establish a chapter of Sigma Chi outside a college, or at all; but, isolated as we were, I thought I should raise the standard and fix a rallying point. By doing so we should preserve the Order, whether we failed or not in our struggle for independence.||”|
Dixon and Yerger contacted all brothers listed in the diary who could come to the meeting. They met at night in a deserted log cabin a few miles southwest of Atlanta. Dixon later wrote,
The cabin was in a state of frightful dilapidation. Its rude walls and rafters were covered with soot and cobwebs, and the floor showed evidences of having been the resting place of sundry heaps of sheep.
Dixon was elected "Sigma" (president) and Yerger was elected "Chi" (vice president); the chapter also initiated two men. The only badge in the chapter was one Dixon had made from a silver half-dollar.
The last meeting was held New Year's Day 1865. The men at that meeting passed a resolution to pay a "tribute of respect" to the four brothers from the chapter who had died during the war. In May 1939 the Constantine Chapter Memorial was erected by Sigma Chi in memory of the Constantine Chapter and its members. The memorial is located on U.S. 41 in Clayton County, Georgia.
In 1876, Emerson E. White became president of Purdue University. He required each applicant for admission to sign a pledge "not to join or belong to any so-called Greek society or other college secret society" while attending the school. The Sigma Chi chapter at Purdue, which was already established at the university, sent petitions to the faculty and pleaded their case to the board of trustees, but was unsuccessful in changing the rule.
In the fall of 1881, Thomas P. Hawley applied for admission to the university. Having already been initiated into Sigma Chi, Hawley refused to sign the pledge and was denied admission. Hawley took Purdue to court, but the judge ruled in favor of the faculty's decision. He also ruled, however, that the faculty had no right to deny Hawley from his classes based on the fraternity issue. The case was brought to the Indiana Supreme Court, which reversed the decision on June 21, 1882. This victory for Sigma Chi also allowed other fraternities at Purdue and led to the Purdue president's resignation in 1883.
First half of the 20th century
During the first half of the 20th century the General Fraternity expanded in many places. In 1899 the Fraternity adopted the flag design created by Henry V. Vinton. In 1901 the Grand Chapter approved the Fraternity's pledge pin. In 1903 at the Grand Chapter in Detroit the Board of Grand Trustees was established. In 1922 the Alpha Beta chapter at University of California, Berkeley held the "Channingway Derby" which led to the creation of the "Sigma Chi Derby Days". Some of the awards created during this time include the Significant Sig Award in 1935 and the Order of Constantine in 1948.
Coming into the beginning of the 20th Century Sigma Chi had installed a total of 74 chapters with 58 still active. Having only established a centralized form of government in 1922, Sigma Chi was installing new chapters at a rate of about one chapter per year. On April 22, 1922 the Beta Omega chapter was installed at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario thus making Sigma Chi an international fraternity.
The Sigma Chi Foundation was created on November 9, 1939 when the Sigma Chi Endowment Foundation was incorporated in Colorado. This educational endowment was first discussed in 1898 by alumni who wanted to assist undergraduates financially so they could finish their undergraduate studies.
The world wars of the 20th century took the lives of 103 Sigs in World War I and 738 in World War II. A great resurgence in undergraduate activity followed World War II due to an increase in chapter memberships. This increase was caused by the men returning from military service who went back to school as well as the usual addition of new brothers.
During World War II it became apparent to the General Fraternity officers that a few alumni as well as a few undergraduate chapters believed some of the prerequisites for membership in Sigma Chi were outdated and should be changed or eliminated. This led to the first discussions about membership within the fraternity that continued until early in 1970. Until this time, membership requirements had specified that a potential member must be a "bona fide white male student". After the first discussion in 1948 at the Grand Chapter in Seattle, the committee on Constitutional Amendments tabled the issue pending a further study of the problem to be reported to the 1950 Grand Chapter. The study showed that the issue was "very hot" on 13 campuses with Sigma Chi chapters and only "lukewarm" on a dozen other campuses.
During this time period, the remaining four founders of Sigma Chi (of the original seven) all died; Daniel William Cooper was the last founder to die. Cooper's death led up to the Fraternity gaining one of its most priceless objects, Cooper's Sigma Phi badge. Cooper's body was sent by train to his final resting place in Pittsburgh, and the Beta Theta chapter at the University of Pittsburgh was given the privilege to administer his memorial service. On December 13, 1920, Cooper's body was conveyed to the Beta Theta chapter house where Beta Theta Consul Donald E. Walker removed Cooper's Sigma Phi Badge and replaced it with his own. Beta Theta Pro-Consul, Regis Toomey, sang the hymn "With Sacred Circle Broken" before Cooper was taken to his final resting place.
Nomenclature and insignia
The badge of Sigma Chi is a white cross with white and black enamel. Two gold chains connect the two upper arms. Crossed keys are in the upper arm, an eagle's head lies in the left arm, and a scroll lies in its right arm. In the bottom arm lie two clasped hands and seven stars.
The seal of Sigma Chi is circular. On the outer edge is "Sigma Chi Fraternity" and at the bottom are the numbers "1855" denoting the founding of the fraternity. In the middle lie seven stars and a seven-branched candlestick.
The Coat of Arms
The crest of Sigma Chi is a blue Norman Shield with a white cross in its center. On top of the Norman Shield is a scroll and a crest of an eagle's head holding a key. Below it, the fraternity's public motto, "In Hoc Signo Vinces" is placed on a scroll. It can be translated as, "In this sign, you will conquer." 
Pledgeship is a period for potential members before they are fully initiated into Sigma Chi. The pledge period differs in length from chapter to chapter but eight weeks is the recommended length by Headquarters. The pledge period consists of intellectual exercises to cultivate potential members into becoming brothers; this includes learning the history of Sigma Chi, the operational workings of Sigma Chi, leadership skills, and allows the potential members to become an integral part of the chapter before initiation.
Many aspects of the pledge program differ for each chapter, being set by that chapter under the direction of the Magister, though a large degree of continuity between chapters and "pledge classes" is maintained. All potential members in Sigma Chi are given a pledge pin and a Norman Shield. The pledge pin is a blue Norman Shield bearing the White Cross of Sigma Chi outlined in old gold.
Hazing and controversies
In response to concerns over safety, negative publicity, and difficulty in getting insurance Sigma Chi announced a zero-tolerance stance on the issue of hazing on January 31, 2005. Despite the policy, some hazing has occurred:
In 2014, three Sigma Chi members at James Madison University were found guilty of sexually assaulting a female student and distributing a recording of the incident. The members were banned from the campus after their graduation.
The University of Houston suspended its Sigma Chi chapter for hazing in 2015. The University also suspended five students pending investigation, and forwarded its findings to the district attorney. The University has accused the national organization of withholding information about the chapter's activities. The chapter was later closed by the national organization.
In 2015, Westminster College and the national fraternity jointly suspended that school's chapter. The suspension was in response to hazing, academic problems, and racist and sexist comments by members on social media.
In 2015, the chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was suspended by its national governing board after a woman was violently pinned down and raped by a student who was not a member or a pledge of the Fraternity.
In 2015, a Sigma Chi member at Utah State University was kicked out the fraternity after being charged with two counts of rape and aggravated sexual assault. The attacks are believed to have taken place at the fraternity house.
Organization of the fraternity
Officers in undergraduate chapters mostly have titles derived from Imperial Rome. The top officers of each chapter are known as the Consul (president), Pro Consul (vice-president), Annotator (minute-taker), Quaestor (treasurer), Magister (pledge trainer), Tribune (communications), and Historian. Those titles and the Kustos (sergeant-at-arms) are the primary officers common to all chapters. Chapters also have other positions, such as Social Chairman, Sports Chairman, Scholarship Chairman, House Manager, Rush Chairman, etc., plus other positions and titles varying from chapter to chapter.
Alumni chapter positions and duties may also vary from chapter to chapter. Alumni chapters use the more common office titles such as: president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.
The national organization uses similar Roman titles, typically with the prefix of "Grand". The Grand Consul is the international president of Sigma Chi. He presides over the Executive Committee, Grand Chapter and the Sigma Chi Corporation. The current Grand Consul is Mike Ursillo. The current Grand Pro Consul is W. Thomas Geddings.
Grand Chapter is the supreme legislative body of Sigma Chi and convenes on odd numbered years. It is composed of one delegate from each active undergraduate chapter and alumni chapter, the Grand Consul and Past Grand Consuls, each being entitled to one vote. The Grand Chapter elects the officers of the Fraternity as well as alter or amend the Constitution, Statutes, and Executive Committee Regulations. It may grant or revoke charters as well as discipline any chapter, officer or member. The most recent Sigma Chi Grand Chapter was held in Washington, D.C. on June 27–29, 2013.
The Grand Council meets every year when no Grand Chapter is held. The Grand Council consists of the Grand Officers, Past Grand Consuls, members of the Executive Committee, Grand Trustees, Grand Praetors, members of the Leadership Training Board and one undergraduate from each province. It may amend the Statutes or Executive Committee Regulations.
The Executive Committee
The Executive Committee meets at least four times a year. The Executive Committee consists of 11 members; Grand Consul, Grand Pro Consul, Grand Quaestor, the immediate Past Grand Consul, a Grand Trustee elected by the Board of Grand Trustees, a Grand Praetor elected by the Praetorial College, one alumnus member-at-large, two undergraduate representatives elected by the undergraduate delegates from each chapter, and the two most recent International Balfour Award winners. The committee regulates the budget and expenditures as well as assign duties to the International Headquarters staff.
The Sigma Chi Foundation is a charitable and educational tax-exempt organization, separate and independent from the Fraternity, whose express purpose is to serve as an educational funding resource for the undergraduate and graduate student members of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
A Board of Governors, headed by Chairman Bob Johnson, governs the Foundation. The Foundation's President and CEO is Gregory J. Harbaugh and the Foundation's offices are based in Evanston, Ill.
The Sigma Chi Canadian Foundation is the Canadian counterpart of The Sigma Chi Foundation. It serves independently of both the fraternity and the American foundation. It was formed by Canadian Sigma Chi Alumni as a registered charitable foundation to provide a tax-effective way for Canadian Sigma Chi to support the educational pursuits of Canadian undergraduate chapters. The Foundation is guided by a and a Board of Directors of alumni members.
The fraternity has multiple leadership programs:
The Balfour Leadership Training Workshop (BLTW) is a Fraternity-wide, three-day retreat that has been held annually since 1947. Undergraduate members receive training for specific roles within their chapter. Alumni volunteers are also given mentorship training. The BLTW is named after the 29th Grand Consul of the Fraternity, Lloyd G. Balfour.
Launched in 1999, Horizons is a six-day workshop for undergraduate brothers. The program aims to create lifelong values-based leaders.
Mission 365 is a recruitment workshop. Participants are taught how to "increase both the quality and quantity" of potential new members.
The Sigma Chi Choices program and the The Sigma Chi Crossroads workshop both aim to combat drug and alcohol abuse and address mental health among members.
Sigma Chi Lifeline is an online resources for those suffering from mental illness. By providing information and support for those affected by emotional and mental health issues, it aims to prevent suicide among college students.
Derby Days is one of Sigma Chi's staple philanthropic events. According to archival information at Sigma Chi International Headquarters, the first "Derby Day" event was held in 1916 at the University of California-Berkeley. Then known as the "Channing Way Derby" because of the California-Berkeley chapter's location on Channing Way and College Avenue, the event spread to other chapters who created their own Derby Day. Throughout the course of a week, the participating chapter organizes and hosts a series of events and competitions among their campus's sororities. Money is raised through either donations, or through fundraising-type events. Derby Days itself is not a mandatory event for any chapter of Sigma Chi to host. According to the International Fraternity's official website, the basic mission of Derby Days is to serve the community.
Merlin Olsen Day of Service
In honor of notable Sigma Chi alumni and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Merlin Olsen September 15 is recognized by the fraternity as the Merlin Olsen Day of Service. On this day, members of the fraternity are encouraged to volunteer to improve their communities.
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) is Sigma Chi's suggested beneficiary. The organization was introduced to the fraternity by Olsen in 1992. Since then Sigma Chi alumni and undergraduate chapters have raised more than 6.9 million for CMNH. Every chapter has a CMNH affiliate within less than 200 miles, with each chapter donating to the nearest affiliated hospital.
Huntsman Cancer Institute
The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is another one of Sigma Chi's preferred charitable organizations. It was chosen at Sigma Chi's 150th anniversary celebration in 2005. The Huntsman Cancer Institute today is dedicated to researching the causes, treatments, and preventative methods of cancer. The institute was founded in 1995 by Sigma Chi alumnus, and founder of the Huntsman Corporation, Jon M. Huntsman Sr.. Huntsman has donated more than 350 million dollars to the institute, and has encouraged his fellow brothers to contribute as well.
Sigma Chi gives out two undergraduate awards, The Peterson Significant Chapter Award, which is given to chapters who show a strong performance in all areas of chapter operations, and The International Balfour Award, which is given each year to one graduating senior who excels in four criteria; scholarship, character, Fraternity service and campus leadership.
The fraternity also gives out three alumni awards: The Significant Sig Award is given to a member who has excelled greatly in his field of study or occupation. The first seven Significant Sig awards were given to George Ade, Roy Chapman Andrews, John T. McCutcheon, Chase S. Osborn, James Wallington, F. Dudleigh Vernor, and Samuel P. Cowley. The Order of Constantine is awarded to alumni members who have devoted long and distinguished service to the Fraternity. The Semi-Century Sig Award is given to brothers who have been active in the fraternity for 50 years or more.
Most undergraduate chapters elect a female associated with the chapter as the chapter sweetheart. At each Grand Chapter, the fraternity chooses a Sweetheart from one chapter to be the International Sweetheart of Sigma Chi for two years. The International Sweetheart Award is presented based on personality, character, campus involvement, Sigma Chi activities, general accomplishments, poise, and grace. Each nominee must be the sweetheart of an undergraduate chapter for the year nominated and a student at the nominating chapter's university. Judy Garland was a Sigma Chi Sweetheart from The Ohio State University chapter.
Military Service Recognition Pin
The Military Service Recognition Pin recognizes honorably discharged veterans or currently serving members of the armed forces who are in good standing with the Sigma Chi Fraternity. The pin consists of a single Norman-style sword thrust upward with a small Sigma Chi Norman Shield with a cross embossed upon it placed upon the lower end of the blade just above the hilt and is to be worn on the brother's lapel. This award was first presented at the 2007 Grand Chapter.
The Magazine of Sigma Chi
The Magazine of Sigma Chi is the official quarterly publication for undergraduate and alumni brothers of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. First published in 1881 at Gettysburg College, Theta Chapter, as The Sigma Chi, the name was later changed to The Sigma Chi Quarterly and then to The Magazine of Sigma Chi
The Norman Shield
The Norman Shield is the reference manual of the Fraternity. First compiled in 1929 by Arthur Vos, Jr. for the Beta Mu chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder, it contains biographies of the founders, significant alumni, a history of the Fraternity, the Constitution and Statutes, and other writings relevant to the fraternity.
As of 2007, Sigma Chi has 218,493 living brothers and as of 2010 there are 240 active undergraduate chapters at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Since 1855, Sigma Chi has initiated more than 300,000 men.
As of 2011, Sigma Chi has 149 alumni chapters around the world.
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