The History of Sigma Nu

In the fall of 1973, a group of men entered Southern Tech, Marietta GA. and joined together to form a flag football team to play in the school’s intramural program. These men had a lot of the same classes and lived together in the dorms. Many of them were from the same hometown and had journeyed to college together. These young men expressed interest in joining a fraternity but were discouraged by the choices that were available to them. They did not want to pay the high dues of the other fraternities and felt to themselves that there was something better available. Choosing not to join one of the three fraternities on campus. They went on that fall quarter and a group of freshman athletes to win the flag football championship. Winter quarter arrived and four men (Chuck Phillips #1, Jeff Post #4, Dana Whitlow #19, and Gene Williams #5) of this group were talking to each other and asked, “Why don’t we start a fraternity?” With the answer to this one question, nineteen young men formed the ΔΦ fraternity. And so, at the beginning of spring quarter on April 1, 1974 the Delta Phi fraternity of Southern Technical Institute was officially declared. Their quest had begun.

That spring quarter had the men of ΔΦ having several national fraternities looking at this group to become a part of something bigger than just a local fraternity. Their search led them to the Delta Phi national fraternity. This fraternity did not have what the men of Southern Tech were looking for in both the quality and brotherhood of a national fraternity. They felt it just was not a great fit. By the end of the spring quarter they changed their name to ΔΦΔ so that it would take effect the beginning of the next fall quarter. That spring quarter, this group of young men beat all commers in softball, hands down. Their quest continued on.

The fall quarter of 1974 had a rush that beat out all the other established national fraternities on campus. This local fraternity was gaining strength at Southern Tech. They proved throughout the fall quarter that that they were a force on campus not only in numbers but also in sports. Word had spread about this group of men and many national fraternities were looking at ΔΦΔ to join them (now almost thirty guys strong in less than a year). The search continued on into the winter quarter and still a national fraternity had not been found. The one thing that had stuck in the minds of the ΔΦΔ brothers was the hazing that was going on by the other fraternities during this time. This was not appealing to them and had a profound influence on their national search. While the ΔΦΔ men were looking for a fraternity, Sigma Nu nationals had heard about a group of students in a local fraternity a Southern Tech. The division commander for Sigma Nu at that time was Dr. Tom Lightsey. He was instrumental in helping found the ΘΠ (Theta Pi) chapter at West Georgia several years earlier. A man by the name of Jimmy Bryan ΘΠ #3 was asked to accompany Dr. Lightsey to meet the men at Southern Tech. Mr. Bryan went through the colonization process of becoming a chapter from 1971 to 1972 and also served as commander before graduating in 1974 and moving back to Atlanta. The meeting went well. Dr. Lightsey and Mr. Bryan were impressed with what they saw and reported back to Lexington that this group of men should be offered colony status.

The ΔΦΔ men found what they were looking for. Hazing was unacceptable to the founding fathers of ΣΝ as well as to the men of ΔΦΔ. This strong feeling led to the ΔΦΔ fraternity to vote on April 10, 1975 to become a colony of the ΣΝ national fraternity. All they needed now was for ΣΝ to accept them. In June of 1975, a letter arrived to President Gene Williams of ΔΦΔ. An excerpt of this letter reads as follows: “It is my pleasure to notify you officially that Delta Phi Delta local fraternity at Southern Technical Institute has been accepted by the High Council of Sigma Nu at its June 9th meeting as a colony of this fraternity” Signed William K. Amiott, Executive Secretary of Sigma Nu. Their hard work had paid off and they were building a solid foundation for the road to becoming a chapter.

For their time as a colony, they would need an advisor and Mr. Jimmy Bryan was asked to be the chapter advisor by Dr. Lightsey. A role he gladly accepted. His insight would help the fraternity grow. The beginning of fall quarter saw only fifteen guys returning to campus. Some guys could not afford school, some transferred, a few did not even return to college. The remaining dedicated brothers put together a well-organized rush and helped incoming freshmen move into the dorms. Dr. Lightsey and Mr. Bryan were still concerned with the low numbers. Without larger numbers a colony would fail. These concerns were quickly stomped when the colony rushed more than forty guys. Most of the colony brothers had two little brothers and some had three. This rush proved that Sigma Nu was here to stay.

They told the new candidates that Sigma Nu was not for everyone. The fraternity was formed by three civil war veterans that opposed hazing and believed that their “Honor was dearer than their life.” It was founded on ideals that men could believe in and build a life around. Most other fraternities were founded on friendship and the degrading of others called “hazing.” On November 16th, 1975, twenty-two men of ΔΦΔ fraternity were installed by a Ritual team from the HG (Eta Gamma) chapter of Georgia State as an official colony of the ΣΝ Fraternity. For the men of the new ΣΝ colony, their journey had just begun. A journey that continues to this day. The men of this colony worked hard to reach the goals of becoming a chapter.

There were three other colonies vying to become chapters of ΣΝ at the same time. The new our ΣΝ colony happened to be in the right place at the right time. For at stake was the honor of becoming the 200th chapter in the 200th year of our nation. The colony that was most distinguished would be awarded with this title. The men of the ΣΝ colony charged forward.

From the fall of 1975 to the fall of 1976, the ΣΝ colony increased its active chapter membership from fifteen to forty-four plus men. They excelled in sports, captured, and held the rock on campus (a long-standing tradition among the fraternities), and even had time for academics. There was much discussion among the leaders at the Lexington headquarters as to which colony should receive the honor of chapter #200.

On October 18, 1976, President Chuck Phillips of the ΣΝ colony received a letter from nationals stating that they had received unanimous ballots of approval from the other chapters, and they had earned the right to become their own chapter. On Saturday, December 4, 1976, the forty-four men of the ΣΝ colony were installed by the ΘΠ chapter of West Georgia University as the ΙΠ Chapter #200 of the ΣΝ Fraternity. Thus, the Iota Pi Family was born. This installation was attended by the top directors of the ΣΝ fraternity and even made several local newspapers. The following spring of 1977 saw the first graduating class of ΙΠ. Jimmy Bryan stayed on to serve as chapter advisor for several more years and was extremely proud to have been associated with the men of the ΙΠ chapter.

These men journeyed on with life. They always carried with them the fruits of brotherhood that had its roots in this beginning. Their journey had reached a milestone of numbers of brothers, no hazing and no drugs. None of them could have realized that it would still be going strong nearly 50 years later. Most of the original men keep in touch today. Many developed the extremely strong bonds of brotherhood, in which have bonds that are strong as family.