My own college fraternity, which is dear to my heart and of which I am most familiar, was founded in 1868 at the Virginia Military Institute by three members of the 1870 graduating class. One of the three, James Frank Hopkins, a Confederate veteran, was a Freemason, and to him fell the task of drafting the fraternity’s initiation ritual.Interesting article. I'm not sure if his facts about the upsurge in fraternity membership are totally correct, but he seems to have found a way to connect with the younger men. The idea of using a Masonic hall/lodge/temple as a place for fraternities to gather is, in my opinion, a masterstroke. When I was an undergrad, we always tried to have initiations in a church, but it was often difficult to obtain permission. How neat it would have been to have access to a space that was already set up to be a)seriously impressive, and b)very private.
Thus, the tenets of Freemasonry, thinly veiled, found their way into the initiation ritual of Sigma Nu and remain essentially unchanged today. Both Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Chi also have Masonic roots as do many other fraternities. Consequently, in a sense, initiates of college fraternities are already “friends and brothers.” By pledging a fraternity, they have already demonstrated an interest, and by becoming active, they have been exposed to ritual initiation.
So how do we capitalize on this natural affinity, this historical relationship between Freemasonry and the collegiate fraternity?
The Freemasons in Fargo, North Dakota, have, for a number of years, made the Masonic Temple available to college fraternities and encouraged use of the facility for meetings and initiation ritual work. Sigma Nu has eagerly accepted this offer as have others. Typically, the building is opened by a Masonic alumnus of the particular fraternity who then sits in during the initiation. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Masonic alumnus gives a brief talk on the fraternal relationship and Freemasonry. We ask visiting fraternity members to sign a guest book and encourage them to take informational materials home with them. This program has been received very well.
Masonry And The College Fraternity