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Sigma Pi fraternity to receive charter

The Duke chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity will receive its charter in an official ceremony Saturday after completing the process in record time.

The Iota-Xi chapter was the fastest Sigma Pi colony to ever be chartered, said Sigma Pi President Max Coar, a sophomore. After receiving colony status in Spring 2011, the chartering process lasted one year, though many chapters complete it in up to two years. Sigma Pi is already a member of the Interfraternity Council at Duke and will have a house under next year’s house model, but the national charter will give them voting rights in national fraternity matters and access to greater alumni support.

“Everyone who is involved is super involved and really into it,” Coar said. “If someone doesn’t want to be involved in this process, then they’re likely not in the chapter.”

Nationals accepted the colony’s application for a charter unanimously, he added.

To receive a charter, the national fraternity requires colonies to complete four different levels of tasks, ranked according to importance for the chapter. Each task is assigned a point value with a total of approximately 4,000 possible points. When the Duke chapter completed 80 percent of the total possible points, it was able to file a petition to the national fraternity to receive a charter, Coar said.

The fraternity began to pursue a Duke presence last Spring. Two expansion consultants from the national organization arrived at Duke in early February 2011 to begin recruiting, and Sigma Pi received colony status March 26, 2011. Adrian Rodgers, one of the consultants, noted that there is a list of criteria for colonization, including alumni in the region, the number of greek students on campus and the quality of the institution, which can be measured by the amount of endowment funds available.

“Duke was a no-brainer for us because the University has a very strong community, and the greek advisers are excellent,” Rodgers said. “We were allowed to be very selective in who we recruited to be in our initial group, because the guys really understood what it meant to start a fraternity.”

The University realized that many students rushing fraternities were not receiving bids, so they decided to expand the greek system, Coar said. Several national fraternities made presentations at Duke highlighting the contributions they could make to the existing greek system on campus. One standout feature of Sigma Pi was its Altruistic Campus Experience program, which organizes members to give back to their campus communities.

Each Sigma Pi chapter develops a unique ACE project suitable to the needs of their particular campus. Sigma Pi hosted an event in Krzyzewskiville during the 2012 tenting season that highlighted responsible drinking practices. As an extension of this project, the fraternity will be hosting a hazing awareness event at the end of April to foster a discussion about the dangers of hazing, Coar said. Plans for the event are still tentative.

Sigma Pi brothers noted several reasons for their decision to join the new fraternity, particularly the chance to become involved in something new as a motivating factor.

Senior Alex Irwin joined Sigma Pi as a chance to expand his opportunities at Duke.

“As a junior, I was settled into life at Duke and would have been fine had I stayed where I was, though I decided to see where it would lead me,” Irwin said. “It’s been really fun.”

The biggest challenge for the chapter now is finding an identity, Coar said. The chapter has many great people and ideas, but the next step is to determine how the chapter will fit into Duke’s existing greek system.

“I want to offer something different from the average greek experience while still offering something compatible with the Duke experience,” he added. “This balancing act is something that I’ve been working on as president.”

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