Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣΑΜ), also known as “Sammy”, is a college fraternity founded at the City College of New York in 1909. Originally only for Jewish men, Sigma Alpha Mu remained so until 1953, when members from all backgrounds were accepted. Originally headquartered in New York, Sigma Alpha Mu has relocated its international headquarters to Indianapolis, Indiana. Since its establishment, the fraternity has initiated more than 63,000 members and has more than 120 active and inactive chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada.
Sigma Alpha Mu Founding Fathers
In the fall of 1909, the sophomore class at the College of the City of New York had found itself embarrassed by “lowly freshmen”. At a school where “warfare” between freshman and sophomore class was a tradition, the sophomores found it necessary to regain their fallen honor. Class Marshal Lester Cohen called a meeting of sophomore leaders on November 26, 1909 to decide on a plan for redemption. Eight appeared in proper order Ira N. Lind, Jacob Kaplan, Lester Cohen, Samuel Ginsburg, Hyman I. Jacobson, David D. Levinson, Abraham N. Kerner, Adolph I. Fabis, who are now known as the Founders of Sigma Alpha Mu.
It is interesting to note that while there were many friends among the eight, none of them knew all the others. During the discussion which took place, much loftier ideals were expressed than the mere formulation of plans for asserting sophomore honor. The men discovered that they held many ideals in common, and the inspiration for the formation of a new fraternity came to them. During this meeting, it was suggested that the Greek Letters “Kappa Phi Omega” be used to symbolize the words “Cosmic Fraternal Order” as the new name for the fraternity. This proposal was accepted and the meeting was adjourned.
A second meeting was held a week later. It was found necessary to revise the name of the fraternity because several members had inadvertently made public the chosen name. Ginsburg then suggested a motto which was unanimously adopted and which has since remained the Fraternity motto. From that time the Fraternity was known as Sigma Alpha Mu.
The new Fraternity settled down to the accomplishment of the ideals which had promoted its creation. It was its aim to prove to the outside world that criticism and objectives leveled against fraternities in general—specious though many of those arguments may have been—were not applicable to Sigma Alpha Mu. The founders decided to plan and grow along lines different from those of existing fraternities.
Two years after the founding Sigma Alpha Mu began to grow. To a small group of five at Cornell University, the Founders imparted their ideas and inculcated their ideals, and then guided, watched and aided them-their brothers in far off Ithaca. Little wonder that Beta chapter patterned its growth as Alpha had and the two chapters, in bond of brotherhood, were as one. After this, slowly but surely, Sigma Alpha Mu expanded North, South, East and West. Sigma Alpha Mu maintains its commitment to growth and attends and assists both the old and new chapters.
The eight Founders of Sigma Alpha Mu all came from Jewish backgrounds, and it naturally followed that they attracted to their brotherhood men of similar background. They believed in fraternalism among Jewish college men, convinced that without it, a large number of Jewish students would be deprived of the pleasant associations and companionships they now find in most colleges. Sigma Alpha Mu acknowledges its Jewish heritage and the ethical values of Judaism, but with the advent of the mid-twentieth century, expressions of liberalism suggested that constitutional limitations of membership to any particular religious group was not in keeping with the ideal of democracy which had always been part of the Fraternity’s creed. Thus, responsive to this thinking, Sigma Alpha Mu at its 1953 Convention amended its constitution, making eligible for membership any male student of good moral character who respects the ideals and traditions of the Fraternity.
Mission and Creed
Sigma Alpha Mu’s stated mission is “Sigma Alpha Mu’s Mission is to foster the development of collegiate men and our alumni by instilling strong fraternal values, offering social and service opportunities, encouraging academic excellence and teaching leadership skills. We will continue to attract members of all beliefs who appreciate our great heritage as a fraternity of Jewish men.” Its creed is “To foster and maintain among its sons a spirit of fraternity, a spirit of mutual moral aid and support; to instill and maintain in the hearts of its sons love for and loyalty to Alma Mater and its ideals; to inculcate among its sons such ideals as will result in actions worthy of the highest precepts of true manhood, democracy, and humanity”.
The Sigma Alpha Mu Foundation
The Sigma Alpha Mu Foundation was created in 1944 and incorporated under the laws of the Districted of Columbia. During the first thirty-five years of its existence the Foundation’s activities were limited to a few scholarships and student loans.
In the late 1970’s, as part of plans for Sigma Alpha Mu’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations the Foundation embarked on a campaign to increase the number of scholarships awarded. Under the leadership of Lawrence D. Schaffer and Bill Schwartz, fratres and friends of Sigma Alpha Mu were asked to endow funds that would support an annual scholarship grant based on criterion proposed by the donor. The campaign was a great success; to date more than 200 scholarship funds have been created that currently provide 150 endowed student scholarships, and more continue to be added.
In the early 1990s the Foundation assumed responsibility for the Sigma Alpha Mu Voluntary Alumni Dues program which was renamed the Annual Appeal. Through the Annual Appeal the Foundation solicits alumni for donations that are used to support the Foundation’s operations, scholarships and leadership grants to Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity.
— Read More History on Sigma Alpha Mu on Wikipedia
Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣAM)
- Founded On: November 26th, 1909 at City College of New York
- Type: Social Fraternity
- Colors: Purple and White
- Flower: Purple Aster
- Nicknames: Sammy-SAM
- Chapters: 52 Active, 120 Chartered
- Website: www.sam.org
- Motto: N/A