Sigma Chi joins ‘Nova frat scene

Jessica Remo

Thirty-six Villanovans are joining the ranks of men like Brad Pitt, David Letterman, John Wayne, Tom Selleck, Mike Ditka, Grover Cleveland, William Marriot and Eddie Murphy to become brothers in Sigma Chi. After sending in their Declaration of Intent to Sigma Chi national headquarters in Evanston, Ill., last week, these men are on their way to starting a new chapter of the fraternity at Villanova.

Now meeting weekly at the Spit for dinner, the Sigma Chi men are back where it all began.

“A few friends and I were just eating dinner one night, and started discussing why we hadn’t pledged other frats,” said Sigma Chi President (also known as “Consul”) Eugene Timpano. “We all thought the others were good for different reasons, but we didn’t want to split up. Someone mentioned that we seemed like we were our own frat, and that’s where the idea came from.”

The students sent an e-mail to Greek Life coordinator John Osborne, and the ball started rolling. Last May, Osborne set Timpano and friends up with some other students who were interested in starting a frat. The two groups united and chose Sigma Chi for its ideals of friendship, justice and learning and because of its strong reputation as one of the oldest fraternities. After a few phone calls and e-mails, Andy Hughes, a representative from Sigma Chi national headquarters, came to talk to the men about expansion.

“At the time, it felt small and impossible,” said Timpano. “But then it snowballed, and we’re right in the middle of it now. It’s an exciting time.”

Now the men have solidified a group of 36 juniors. They hold weekly chapter meetings with the help of a Sigma Chi alumni from the University of Delaware. If all goes according to plan, the Sigma Chi men will receive the thumbs up from Sigma Chi National Headquarters and Villanova’s Interfraternity Council. After getting the approval from these groups, they will be considered a colony and begin their six-week pledging process before receiving their official charter. Until this time, the Sigma Chi’s cannot wear or use the official letters, so they instead go by the name Sigma Chi Lambda.

So without letters, how can you spot a Sigma Chi member?

“You can’t just see a Sigma Chi,” said Recruitment Chair Matt Baldwin. “It’s not about appearance. It’s about character.”

The official Sigma Chi standards echo Baldwin’s response. Sigma Chi’s “Jordan Standard” calls for men who meet seven characteristics: good character, fair ability, ambitious purposes, congenial disposition, good morals, high sense of humor and deep sense of personal responsibility.

“We’ve adopted the unofficial motto that ‘Sigma Chi develops leaders,'” Timpano said.

Now the Sigma Chi men are working on developing a strong brotherhood and getting their name out to the Villanova community.

“We want to come on strong like we’ve been here for years, so people know who we are and what kind of men we are,” said Baldwin. “We’re not trying to move in on the other frats, but just offer another choice.”

To achieve this goal, the men have participated in events like Alpha Phi’s Phiesta Bowl, Up ‘Til Dawn and intramural sports teams.

“We are really making an effort to participate in everyone else’s functions, so we get our name out there and so that they will come to ours,” Baldwin said.

People are already talking. Some questioned the need for another fraternity, especially because many of the frats already on campus struggle with recruitment.

“We’ve had our fair share of criticism, but in general, most people seem excited,” Timpano said. After the addition of Kappa Delta sorority last spring, the colonization of Sigma Chi will bring the sorority/fraternity ratio to an even 10:10.

“What we’re doing will be positive for Greek Life as a whole, especially since frat numbers have been going down,” Timpano said. “This adds numbers to the Greek population on campus, and with more guys going Greek, there are more men to participate in sorority events.”

For now, the men are content with hanging out as brothers even without official recognition.

“We’re motivated, hard-working, fun and dedicated,” said Sigma Chi Andy Kropf. “This isn’t just a bunch of party animals; these are people who want to make a difference at Villanova and provide for the Sigma Chi tradition. We are all very different, but we have a common understanding that we are doing something new and innovative on campus, and that’s what unites us.”