Sigma Alpha Mu: Meet the new kids on the block

Stephanie Giacone

This time, the newest rage on campus isn’t platform flip-flops. It’s a brand new fraternity — Sigma Alpha Mu. I had the recent opportunity to speak with the president of Villanova’s chapter of the national fraternity, sophomore Chris Riegel. This headstrong young leader, along with the support of his friends, has managed to accomplish the difficult task of convincing Villanova campus life was in need of something new and refreshing. Chris and his fellow fraternity brothers are currently leading a group of over 25 members who are ready to dive in head-first to Greek Life at Villanova.

Chris and the smaller group of original members have been working diligently since the recognition of the chapter to IHC and Greek life at the beginning of this semester.

The idea started last year when Riegel and his friends became close with their resident advisor, Jason Danisi, on the second floor of Stanford Hall. Danisi, a second year Villanova Law student, has acted as the students’ mentor and source of information since planning for the frat’s recognition at Villanova began. Danisi had been the president of his Sigma Alpha Mu chapter during his undergraduate years at St. John’s University.

Chris explained how he and his friends were “not interested in any of the fraternities at Villanova,” so they then became intrigued by their RA’s experiences with Sigma Alpha Mu. Chris was immediately inspired to start a chapter here at Villanova and hasn’t given up since.

He soon contacted the national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Mu, which is located in Indianapolis. The headquarters at Indianapolis was excited about the idea of beginning a new chapter and supported Riegel, Danisi and a small band of faithful followers.

It was not easy for Chris and his friends to gain recognition on campus.

“At first, the Greek Life office was resistant to the idea of expansion,” Riegel explains. “We had to demonstrate to them first that we were a serious group who wanted to start a fraternity that could break the common stereotypes associated with fraternities.”

Chris affirms that one of his fraternity’s main goals is service. He and his friends proved this to the Greek Life office through their participation in a multitude of service events which helped show their dedication.

They have been working closely with Campus Ministry and have been involved in activities, such as tutoring inner city youth and packaging canned foods for a local food pantry. These and other various planned service-oriented events have helped prove to Greek Life that Sigma Alpha Mu is here to positively contribute to Greek Life at Villanova and campus as a whole.

Riegel feels that the chapter is “honored to be accepted” to the Greek Life system. Similar attempts at creating new fraternity chapters on campus have failed in the past, but with Chris’s innovative and positive approach, he made his idea become reality. He hopes to work with other chapters and campus organizations to achieve his goals revolving around community service.

Sigma Alpha Mu’s national philanthropy is Pediatric AIDS, which is an organization that raises money for children with the disease. Sigma Alpha Mu is planning to work with the Running Club at Villanova to fundraise for their philanthropy and already have plans for a volleyball tournament and other fundraising activities.

Chris and his fraternity brothers are thoroughly excited about recruitment, which they will hold next fall and next spring. The chapter encourages diversity and is open to meeting all types of guys, as long as they are willing to be open-minded and have the desire to make a difference.

One of the fraternity’s mottos is “Brothers for Life,” and Chris believes that this motto will carry the fraternity’s legacy long after life at Villanova.

Chris notes his original goals for Sigma Alpha Mu when he says, “Our organization has wanted to contribute to the system, to help make it better; we felt we could make a big difference and set the bar higher.”