Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) is an undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute on January 1, 1869. The fraternity was founded by James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles and James McIlvaine Riley shortly after Hopkins witnessed what he considered a hazing ritual by upperclassmen at the Virginia Military Institute. The fraternity’s existence remained secret until the founders publicly announced their new society on January 1, 1869. Since its founding, Sigma Nu has more than 279 active and inactive chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada and has initiated more than 227,000 members. Sigma Nu, Kappa Alpha Order and Alpha Tau Omega make up the Lexington Triad.
Sigma Nu prides itself on its anti-hazing principles, upon which the organization was founded and continues to uphold through its anti-hazing initiative. The fraternity’s values are summarized as an adherence to the principles of love, honor, and truth. Because of its military heritage, Sigma Nu retains many military trappings in its chapter ranks and traditions, and places importance on the concept of personal honor. In 1945, William Yates (University of Pennsylvania) inspired the formation of the “Sigma Nu Inc., Educational Foundation”. Its name was changed to the “Sigma Nu Educational Foundation, Inc.” The foundation assists collegiate members with financial aid supplements, and the fraternity in the development of a leadership program.
History — 1847 to 1860: Foundation and Early Expansion
James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James McIlvaine Riley enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute in 1866. Hopkins entered the institute at the age of 21 and was, at the time, one of the oldest cadets entering the institute. Both Hopkins and Quarles had served in the American Civil War as Confederate soldiers.
At this time, many secret societies were being formed on the VMI campus. In Hopkins’ third year at VMI, he joined the Masonic Lodge in Lexington. The masons inspired him to create a similar organization at VMI. Hopkins shared his ideas with Quarles and Riley, and in October 1868, the three came together on a limestone rock on the edge of the VMI parade ground to form the Legion of Honor. The three founders would go on to bring others into the Legion of Honor over the rest of the year. On January 1, 1869, the founders, along with the rest of the members of the Legion of Honor, held their first official meeting as Sigma Nu.
Sigma Nu Shield
The first year of Sigma Nu also saw the creation of the Badge, the original Constitution, and the Law. The Badge designed by Hopkins stands mostly unchanged from its original form. The badges were first introduced in the spring of 1869. Early members, Edward Arthur and Linton Buck, both wrote the original Constitution and Law, respectively. Some conflict arose because Arthur had been a member of the Honduras Emigrant Society and had included some influences from that organization in the constitution. Linton Buck felt these influences should be removed. His revision became the first Law of Sigma Nu. This first chapter of Sigma Nu chose as its motto nulli secundus, a Latin phrase meaning “second to none.”
There were many efforts in the beginning years to establish chapters at other schools. By 1883, Alpha chapter attempted to establish 11 additional chapters, of which only 3 survived. One of the many factors was the anti-fraternity sentiment during this time period. Kappa chapter established in 1881, at North Georgia College & State University, gave the fraternity an important member, John Alexander Howard. Howard suggested that the fraternity drop the use of Roman numerals for chapter designation in favor of using a Greek letter designation. He is also responsible for the creation of ‘The Delta’, Sigma Nu’s fraternity magazine. The name, ‘The Delta’, originated from the location of the 3 active chapters of Sigma Nu forming a Delta. Howard’s editorials in ‘The Delta’ inspired Isaac P. Robison, founder of Lambda chapter, to propose having a convention for the whole fraternity. On July 10, 1884, Sigma Nu’s first convention was held in the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
The fraternity had begun debating allowing non-white and Jewish members shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court desegregated schools in 1954. In 1964, following a failed civil rights amendment to the Sigma Nu’s constitution, the Dartmouth College chapter seceded from the fraternity in protest. The organization did not allow non-white members until the late 1960s. The Dartmouth chapter rejoined in 1983
— Read More History on Sigma Nu on Wikipedia
Sigma Nu (ΣΝ)
- Founded On: January 1st, 1869 – Virginia Military Institute
- Type: Social Fraternity
- Colors: Black, White, and Gold
- Flower: White Rose
- Nicknames: SNU-Sigma-Nu
- Chapters: 279 Chapters
- Website: www.sigmanu.org
- Motto: Η αγάπη, την τιμή, την αλήθεια, η τελειοποίηση με την τιμή — “Love, Honor, Truth, Excelling with Honor”