Sunday, October 03, 2010

CSU Sig Eps Celebrate 95 Years as a Chapter

Fraternity celebrates 95 years of brotherhood
bySarah Banes The Rocky Mountain Collegian
100110_SigEp-CB

From left, Scott Clancy, undeclared freshman, and Jeff Frankenfeld, freshman engineering major, work together to put up a tent outside of the Sigma Phi Epsilon house Thursday afternoon. Sigma Phi Epsilon is celebrating its 95th year of existance.

For a fraternity, 95 years is a long time. And for Sigma Phi Epsilon those 95 years have been filled with loyalty, brotherhood and tradition.

Boasting 2300 alumni members, the Colorado Gamma chapter of SigEp, the oldest standing fraternity on campus, was founded at CSU in 1915 and has played a continuous role on campus for nearly a century.

The fraternity kicked off its anniversary celebration last Saturday with a tailgate prior to the CSU and Idaho football game at Hughes Stadium.

The undergraduate members expected about 50 alumni members at the celebratory dinner they hosted at the chapter residence, located next to CSU’s flower gardens directly east of campus on Lake Street.

“The most meaningful thing for me is mainly the friendships I have with the guys I still see,” said Norm Warner, a SigEp alumnus who graduated from CSU in 1965.

The fraternity holds a long history of notable alumni, including former Colorado Governor Roy Romer and the late Kenneth Monfort, a leading Colorado businessman who continues to donate millions of dollars to CSU through the Monfort Excellence Fund.

The house has changed quite a bit over the years.

According to Bijah Gibson, the president of SigEp, the fraternity was known as the stereotypical “animal house” in the 1970s and 1980s.

But in 2000 the CSU alumni began restructuring the process of how to join the brotherhood after they thought the house had gotten out of hand.

“We lost sight of our values and goals,” Gibson said.

Instead of pledging like most fraternities, the prospective members now go through a series of programs that they call the Balanced Man Program.

Members start as Sigmas, but they become Phis and Epsilons as they learn the fraternity’s history and become more involved in the house and on campus.

“This series of programs required by the alumni has become a developmental experience to make men prepared for the future,” Gibson said.

In 1933 SigEp moved into the same house they occupy today. During that time, everyone in Greek Life had houses in the same area, which they call the “old row.”

“We are proud we still have a house here,” Gibson said. “Most of the old houses have turned into businesses.”

“In the last four years, the SigEp house has been undergoing considerable house renovations,” said James Stewart, the chaplain for the fraternity, adding that new flooring has been added to large parts of the house in the past year.

When Stewart was a freshman, SigEp consisted of about 50 members. Now they have more than 80 members with 35 living in the house.

The members of the fraternity said they’re proud of the role SigEp has served in the history of CSU and the celebration signifies a huge milestone of their brotherhood.

“It is cool to see that some alumni have had the same experiences that I did. It is something that bonds us together,” said Tony Mauro, a 1999 CSU graduate.

Mauro thinks his experience at CSU was enhanced by joining SigEp his freshman year.

The CSU Interfraternity Council has awarded the Chapter of the Year distinction to Colorado Gamma SigEp for five out of the last 10 years, including last year.

Billy Raddell, a junior political science major and SigEp member since his freshman year, said he thinks the anniversary is all about tradition.

“It is great to see how many alumni come back, bringing the history with them,” Raddell said.

Staff writer Sarah Banes can be reached at news@collegian.com.