Fifteen years ago, Fergie was telling us “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, the first-generation iPhone had just hit the market, Von Dutch T-shirts and low-rise jeans were fashion trends, Barack Obama was running for president and author J. K. Rowling finished the seventh and final Harry Potter novel.
But in Martin, Tennessee there were 34 men who finally were able to call themselves brothers of Sigma Chi, founders of the Kappa Psi chapter.
“I think we found our niche at Martin by trying our hardest to live the core values of Sigma Chi. We focused on academic success. We didn't tolerate hazing. We aimed to recruit good men without caring about race, religion, sexuality, politics... Many of us had no intention of joining a fraternity until we found Sigma Chi, and we saw this diverse brotherhood that wasn't afraid to break the stereotypical ’frat guy’ mold,” said Adam Francis, a 2007 alum now living in Memphis, who is a founding member and former president of the Kappa Psi Chapter.
Receiving their charter from headquarters was no easy task. Any group wishing to establish a new greek organization on their campus must first petition for status as a colony. The entire membership of the colony remains as uninitiated associates, typically learning and operating under the guidance of an adviser from the national organization and/or from a sponsoring chapter.
The Kappa Psi chapter at UT Martin was started by a group of men who decided that they had not found what they were looking for in any other greek organizations on campus and wanted to create an organization that represents values that they thought were lacking and underrepresented.
The characteristics that these men were looking for were courage, wisdom, integrity, high ambition, self-control, courtesy, and fidelity- a trait belonging to each of the original seven founders of Sigma Chi in 1855.
Today, 15 years after the Kappa Psi founders received their charter at UTM, the brothers on campus are working hard to preserve that legacy. Honoring their standards and beliefs, they work hard to maintain academic excellence, service outreach, philanthropy, leadership and respect among their peers.
The brothers of the white cross have many members in leadership roles across campus: SOAR leaders, PEP leaders and leaders in other campus organizations, including Student Government Association, Sizzling Skyhawks and Phi Eta Sigma. During their philanthropy week, Derby Days, the chapter raised more than $1,000 for Huntsman Cancer Institute and women's cancer screening, treatment and research.
When asked what Sigma Chi meant to him, Walker Weir, senior Crop and Soil Science Major from Flintville, Tenn. and current president of Kappa Psi, said, “It is a place for men to grow into leaders and become successful people to drive the world towards a better future. It also becomes a home to all of those who are close to the brothers of Sigma Chi, and helps them grow as well.”
Weir says that there are currently no plans to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the chapter. Instead, the chapter is focusing on renovating its house, educating new members and growing their leadership skills on and off campus.
As an alumnus, Francis says that he is thankful for the chapter’s impact on him.
“Sigma Chi is where I really learned how to find meaningful common ground with someone despite all kinds of differences, and how to work together toward a common goal. I can't even begin to describe how valuable that's been in my life after college,” he said.
For more information on Sigma Chi or Huntsman Cancer Institute, please visit https://sigmachi.org/.