The Beta Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi

The Beta Theta Chapter received its charter November 16, 1909. Every year after, we are awarded prizes for our excellence. Over 3 of the last 5 years, including last year, we won the Cathedral Award, given to the best overall fraternity at the University of Pittsburgh. Our chapter has received the Peterson Significant Chapter Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Sigma Chi chapter, 4 times in our history. The City of Pittsburgh even declared October 1, 2000 Sigma Chi Day.


The Founding of Sigma Chi

Sigma Chi was founded on June 28, 1855, by seven undergraduate men at Miami University. They felt that the principles of "fraternity" were crucial to the overall college experience, but were dissatisfied with the unbalance of loyalties and ideals within the fraternities which existed at their university. Six of the Sigma Chi founders were members of the 12-man Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Miami University; when a controversy arose involving a member of the fraternity which could not be resolved, the membership was divided equally. The actions from this controversy led to the founding of Sigma Chi.

The Controversy

In the mid-19th century, an important aspect of college life was participation in student scholastic and debating societies. One of the most prominent at Miami was the Erodelphian Literary Society. When time came to elect Poet (President) for this prestigious society, a dispute arose in Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (Dekes) over who should hold this position. Several members of this society were also members of the Dekes and one of its members had been nominated for Poet. However, four of the 12-man Deke fraternity would not support the nomination of a fellow member because they knew he had no poetic abilities. These four supported another man who was not a Deke. James Caldwell, Isaac Jordan, Benjamin Runkle, and Franklin Scobey refused to vote for their fraternity brother simply because he was a brother; Thomas Bell and Daniel Cooper agreed with these four and thus split the fraternity in half on the issue.

The Break

Neither side would "give in," resulting in pressure from alumni. These "recalcitrant six," as they were called, would not be maneuvered by alumni; thus, the alumni judged the six guilty of violating "brotherly unity," and the decision was made to expel two of the rebels. The alumni were amazed that the six stuck together. When confronted by an alumnus, Runkle, speaking for the other five, stepped forward, removed his Deke pin, threw it on the table, and shouted, "I didn't join this fraternity to be anyone's tool. And that, sir, is my answer." The six abruptly left and were later expelled from the fraternity. But they were already making plans to create a fraternity of their own, based on noble principles and ideals.

The Founding of Sigma Chi

These six men wisely associated themselves with William Lockwood, a highly intelligent student with valuable business sense; he became the individual who set up the plan for the new fraternity. They formulated the first constitution and initiation. Because they believed that the existing fraternities did not emulate the true feeling of "fraternity" and that the other fraternities' ideals apparently meant little, they established a new fraternity, whose ideals and foundations were symbolized by the badge they designed---the distinctive White Cross. Sigma Chi's ideals of friendship, justice, and learning would be loftier and would evoke standards by which a man could improve his life while working closely with others from different backgrounds, with divergent ambitions and diverse abilities. The founders themselves, it is felt, personified these ideals. Sigma Chi was officially founded on June 28, 1855.


Sigma Chi's Purpose

The fundamental purpose of the Sigma Chi Fraternity is to cultivate an appreciation of and commitment to the ideals of friendship, justice and learning. These ideals and objectives have been at the heart of Sigma Chi since its founding by seven men at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on June 28,1855.

Our brotherhood has its roots in the collegiate experience and creates a lifelong commitment to strive for true friendship, equal justice for all, fulfillment of learning as a part of our overall responsibilities to the broader communities in which we live. We achieve these ideals through the practice of qualities embodied in our Ritual. We continuously reaffirm our purpose through the observance of Sigma Chi's governing laws.

Each Sigma Chi completes a period of education devoted to the understanding of our unique history, traditions, and practices, which culminates in an opportunity to accept a lifelong commitment to Sigma Chi and the achievement of our purpose.

Sigma Chi Fraternity best serves its purpose by developing, implementing, and monitoring programs that foster leadership, build character and promote positive relationship skills. This enables our members to become productive and caring participants in their families, colleges, and communities.

Sigma Chi Fraternity programs:

  • Encourage positive and responsible interaction with others.

  • Acknowledge and support a value system consistent with the Ritual.

  • Enhance individual academic skills and scholastic achievement.

  • Develop leadership skills and personal responsibility.

  • Promote and reinforce acceptable social behavior.

  • Cultivate personal growth and fulfillment.

  • Serve others by actively involving ourselves in the welfare of the larger community.

Sigma Chi's Writings

The following writings are the always-alive foundation of our fraternity; they are a clear introduction to what we strive for, and they are the guidelines to which we return year after year, reminding ourselves of the promises we have given.

Though some members misinterpret the Jordan Standard as a lofty set of goals for which to strive, its real purpose is a minimum requirement of those students we recruit.

Beta Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi
3804 University Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 | | University of Pittsburgh