Sigma Gamma Rho sorority reactivated

This year marks the reactivation of the Alpha Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority on Butler’s campus.

“We were [removed from] campus for about a year and a half,” new member junior Kazmyn Perry said. “But this year, we are back.”

This historically black sorority, founded by seven school teachers, has been a part of Butler’s campus since its founding in 1922, Perry said.

The educational aspect of the sorority is what initially attracted junior member Amanda McSwine to join.

“I read the mission statement, and the part about youth education really spoke to me,” McSwine said. “That’s something that’s very important to me.”

The word about the sorority has spread in different ways.

“I was introduced to the sorority before I came to the school,” sophomore Brittany Spiller said, whose mother was also a member.

The sorority’s founding is historically significant, as the sorority is the only black Greek-letter organization founded on a predominantly white campus and is the first in Indiana.

“Butler had a quota on how many black students they would admit at a time,” Perry said. “So it was unique that Butler had a chapter.”

Although the sorority’s functions are similar to those of other Greek organizations on campus, members pointed out that one important difference was the existence of the graduate chapter, which was founded in 1928.

The graduate chapter is in charge of coordinating many of the Alpha chapter’s events and activities. They also help with decision-making and answer directly to the national headquarters, Perry said.

The graduate chapter keeps members involved in the sorority for life.

“I definitely want to join in our graduate chapter and further everything that our sorority stands for,” McSwine said.

Since reactivation, Spiller said members have been focused on coordinating many different activities.

“Our sorority’s aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are hallmarks of the organization’s programs and activities,” Perry said, quoting Sigma Gamma Rho’s mission statement.

During Founder’s Week in November, the sorority organized various community events, including programs to raise awareness about texting and driving, breast cancer, safe sex and teenage pregnancy.

“We have a lot of different programs, but our main focus is children because our sorority was founded by school teachers,” Perry said.

McSwine and Spiller both said that they were glad to be involved in projects which meant something to them personally.

“We are very community-service oriented,” McSwine said. “We just did an Alzheimer’s walk and a diabetes walk.”  Volunteering is another important aspect of the sorority, McSwine said. They have been involved in volunteer work with Coburn Place and the Martin Luther King Community Center.

The sorority, whose network includes over 90,000 members worldwide, recently received a $100,000 grant for HIV/AIDS research from the Centers for Disease Control. They have also worked with the March of Dimes Foundation.

Those interested in joining the sorority should learn about it and attend the events, Perry said. Membership is by invitation only, and there are various opportunities to get involved.

“We have different programming during the year. We try to get people involved in these events,” Perry said.

The organization chooses to accept potential candidates based on their demonstrated level of involvement and commitment, she said.

McSwine’s advice for potential members is to get involved and show commitment from the start.

“The sorority doesn’t accept people that they don’t know. Go to events and show interest in the work that we’re doing so that we know that you’re serious about furthering the cause,” she said.

The sorority is looking for people who are interested in joining.

“We’re always looking for more members,” Spiller said. “People who are willing to work and actually help the community and not just participate in the social aspects.”

Although a historically black sorority, Spiller said Sigma Gamma Rho welcomes members of all races and ethnicities.