A group of 25 GW freshmen are planning to bring the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity back to the University this spring regardless of whether they receive University and Interfraternity Council recognition. The historically Jewish fraternity has had two previous stays at GW and left for the last time due to a lack of interest, Sigma Alpha Mu Regional Governor Ben Pearlman said.
Pearlman and Sigma Alpha Mu Field Representative Jason Stone have advised the 25 newly inducted members of Sigma Alpha Mu since October 2001, when the group approached the fraternity.
“If they want to get chartered sooner, they have to show that they’re able to recruit and become part of the campus community,” Pearlman said, who also advises chapters at American University and the universities of Maryland and Virginia.
Pearlman said Sigma Alpha Mu originally colonized at GW in the 1970s and went unrecognized in the early 1990s. The fraternity then had a second quick stint as they returned to GW in 1996 before disbanding in 1999.
“The members of Sammy in 1999 didn’t feel like they were able to do their jobs well and basically just resigned,” said freshman Scott Silver, prior of the Sigma Alpha Mu GW colony.
The group of freshmen said they approached Sigma Alpha Mu because they had a number of things in common and were dissatisfied with the other fraternity options available on campus.
“We think that everybody should be able to find a fraternity that fits them. When we were looking there was no such fraternity for people like us,” Silver said. “That’s why we decided to start our own (fraternity), so that people like us in the future won’t have the same problem of not being able to find a place.”
Silver said members were turned off by stereotypes of other fraternities and others did not receive bids. Sigma Alpha Mu will be a group for
“friendly, nice guys,” he said.
Sigma Alpha Mu refers to leaders as prior and vice prior instead of president and vice president.
Silver said the majority of the group rushed other fraternities in September, including Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Zeta Beta Tau and Kappa Sigma.
“There were places where our brothers weren’t offered bids for whatever reason and we just want to give everyone a chance,” Silver said. “It might be that there aren’t enough fraternities around for everyone who is interested, but we have created another possible option.”
The 25 students contacted Jared David, former president of the Interfraternity Council, about starting a new fraternity in the fall, Silver said. He said David pointed them in the direction of a newly colonized Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
“The IFC and a few of the expansion officers put us under the impression that we would make (Pi Kappa Phi) into whatever we wanted,” Silver said. “(Fraternity officials) ended up adding people. It got into a messy situation.”
About a week into the formation of Pi Kappa Phi on campus, Silver said the group decided to look elsewhere for options.
“The next day I contacted Sigma Alpha Mu. Within a week we had a field rep down here to talk about forming a colony,” Silver said. He said the 25 freshmen were inducted into the fraternity on Dec. 9.
The colony has not yet received recognition from the University or the Interfraternity Council.
Silver said Sigma Alpha Mu plans to begin recruiting after recognized fraternities end official spring rush set to begin next Tuesday.
“We’d like to start recruiting in February or March. We’d like to have a few events and bring the number of the group up to 35 or 40 people,” Silver said.
IFC President Anthony Morris said the IFC is looking forward to expanding the fraternity system. Sigma Alpha Mu is scheduled to make a presentation in front of fraternity presidents along with three other fraternities Feb. 12 with a vote on whether or not to recognize the new fraternity scheduled for March, Morris said.
After the IFC makes its decision, Morris said the University will decide whether to recognize the fraternity, adding that “the University is also in support of expansion.”
“My interest would be to bring two fraternities on campus before the end of my term, paving the way for future expansion,” Morris said, whose term ends next December.
Silver said the colony feels that some students did not get a chance to become part of the fraternity and should get their chance to join before the fall.
“It wouldn’t be fair to make them come out with the freshmen in the fall,” he said. “It would change the dynamic of the pledging program.”
Morris said Sigma Alpha Mu is allowed to recruit students.
“They’re an interest group, so they can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt the other fraternities,” Morris said. “They are permitted to recruit and function as a fraternity.”
If the IFC and the University choose not to recognize the Sigma Alpha Mu colony, group members said they will attempt to keep the fraternity at GW.
“We’ll still move on if they say we can’t get recognized, just because I feel that we’re a strong group,” Vice Prior Zachary Sigel said.
Pearlman declined to comment on whether the national organization would support the fraternity if it does not receive University recognition.