The D.C. Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at GW celebrated its Centennial Celebration Friday night at the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom – and the brothers had a lot to celebrate from the last 100 years.
From the founding of Sigma Phi Epsilon at GW in 1909 to the loss of its charter in the 1980s to the recognition of the fraternity as the Greek Chapter of the Year in 2009, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s history at GW, like many chapters, has taken many turns. On Friday, hundreds of current brothers, alumni and national fraternity representatives gathered to share in the landmark event. The event featured a cocktail hour followed by dinner and a series of speeches that focused on the group’s accomplishments.
Throughout the pomp and circumstance of the awards and speeches, a low din of laughter and clanking glasses could be heard over the speakers, and the bar was well populated.
When Sigma Phi Epsilon Grand President Garry Kief – who has represented a wide swath of talent including Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Paula Abdul and Barry Manilow – took the podium for the keynote address, he delivered an anecdotal speech complete with expletives that at times seemed right out of the fraternity movie Animal House.
“Let’s be honest, how many of you got lucky after the Manilow concert?” Kief said as he began his speech, referring to free tickets to a concert the fraternity distributed to its members last year.
Despite the humor, Kief did have some serious words of wisdom for attendees at the event.
“To each of you who is a Sig Ep already – to those of you are going to become Sig Eps, I hope that you have the experience of a lifetime that I’ve had,” Kief said. “I hope that you to have brothers who will always be there for you and that you will always be there for them. I hope that 40 years from now, you too will still be proud to be a Sig Ep, I hope you will be damn proud to be a Sig Ep.”
Despite its many accomplishments, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s image has sometimes been marred with a history of violations that left the fraternity without a charter in the late 1980s.
“We had our charter revoked in the 1980s and then we became what’s called a colony in 1999,” senior and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Nick Polk said.
Polk said the chapter took the obstacles GW’s chapter faced in its bid to revive itself-like re-chartering in 2001 and the chapter’s subsequent academic probation in 2003-to improve the fraternity.
“Very few fraternities can say that they have turned 100 and this is really special, especially at GW,” Polk said. “When we were chartered in 2001, we got rid of all the negative stereotypes that plagued Greek Life in general.”
Daniel Blumenthal, current Sigma Phi Epsilon President, said the event was a great opportunity to bring alumni and current students together.
“Words can’t describe what it feels like to turn 100 years old,” Blumenthal said. “It’s great to have alumni and students from all across the world come together in one big celebration.”