Archive for the 'History' Category

A look back: The house renovation in 1998

       Our current house was bought in 1998 and was the former house of Sigma Nu fraternity. Here are some photos from when our beautiful house was still in the process of being gutted, renovated, and added onto. The official opening of the new home of Alpha Sigma Phi came on October 23rd, 1999.

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Our History on the National Level

 

THE FOUNDING OF ALPHA SIGMA PHI

Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity was founded at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 6, 1845 by three students: Louis Manigault (pronounced Man-e-go) (1828-1899) of Charleston, South Carolina, Stephen Ormsby Rhea (1825-1873) of Louisiana, and Horace Spangler Weiser (1827-1875) of York, Pennsylvania. Alpha Sigma Phi was originally founded as a sophomore class society for Yale students.

In 1845, the undergraduate atmosphere at Yale University was markedly different from colleges and universities today: the academics were strict, and the lectures of the professors and academics provided no opportunity for class discussion. Extracurricular activities were not fostered by the college, and student class societies provided the the outlet for student energies and interests.

Manigault was very much interested in the class society system at Yale and noted the class fraternities provided experience for their members and prepared them for competition in literary contests. At that time there was only one sophomore class society, known as Kappa Sigma Theta, which had a reputation for displaying an attitude of superiority towards non-fraternity members, even though they were their fellow classmates. Manigault revealed a plan to his friend Rhea a plan for founding another sophomore class society, in direct competition with Kappa Sigma Theta. Rhea felt at first that such an undertaking would be next to impossible, given Kappa Sigma Theta’s prominence. Both finally agreed to help organize such a new society, and with Manigault’s approval enlisted the help of Weiser and the three became the founders of a fraternity that now counts its members in the thousands.
The first official meeting was held in Manigault’s room on Chapel Street on December 6, 1845. Between then and June 28, 1846, when the Fraternity was publicly announced, the three founders wrote the constitution and ritual, and designed the Fraternity’s Badge. On June 24, 1846, the first pledge class was initiated into the Mystic Circle of Alpha Sigma Phi. The new society was welcomed by the junior class societies at Yale because it gave them a greater selection of candidates for membership. It was also cordially received by the members of the potential sophomore class, who now had a choice between two societies. But it also aroused anxiety and fear among the members of Kappa Sigma Theta.

EARLY DAYS AT YALE

The rivalry between Alpha Sigma Phi and Kappa Sigma Theta was extremely competitive and bitter, extending even to their publications. Kappa Sigma Theta’s The Yale Banger in its November, 1846 issue, attacked Alpha Sigma Phi. The Fraternity retaliated with the publication of The Yale Tomahawk the following year. This rivalry between the two papers continued until 1852, when the Yale faculty expelled the editor and the contributors of the Tomahawk for violating an order from the faculty to cease publication. The rivalry between Alpha Sigma Phi and Kappa Sigma Theta continued until 1858, when Kappa Sigma Theta was suppressed by the Yale faculty.
During the 1850’s many fraternities began to expand their influence in establishing chapters at other colleges. A charter was granted to Amherst College in 1847 and a committee appointed to install the chapter, but conditions were not conducive to fraternities at Amherst, and the charter was returned. To this day, there still remains confusion about the naming of Alpha Sigma Phi’s early chapters. Some records indicate that the Amherst chapter was named Beta, while a fragmentary document in the Yale University library indicated that Beta Chapter was chartered in 1850 at Harvard University (Alpha being the mother chapter at Yale) and that Gamma was chartered at Princeton in 1854. When the Amherst chapter was restored, it was designated Delta Chapter, though for some unknown reason the Delta designation was also given in 1860 to Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. That same year, the Amherst Delta chapter folded.

DELTA BETA XI

During the Civil War, the mother chapter at Yale was rent by internal dissension and then actually disappeared. Less attention was paid to the literary aspects of the society, and more to social activities, especially after Alpha Sigma Phi became the sole sophomore class society at Yale in 1858. In 1864, the Alpha Sigma Phi members pledged to Delta Kappa Epsilon, at the time a junior class society (it was the custom at Yale and many other colleges and universities at that time for men to belong to more than one fraternity) atempted to turn the control over to Alpha Sigma Phi over to Delta Kappa Epsilon. This was thwarted by the Alpha Sig members pledged to the two other junior class societies, Alpha Delta Phi and Psi Upsilon. A conflict ensued, and to prevent violence and end disorder, the faculty at Yale suppressed Alpha Sigma Phi and forbade the initiation of the 1864 pledge class…

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