Fraternity makes a comeback

Alpha Sigma Phi is rebuilding its University chapter from scratch.

Fraternity makes a comeback

Melissa Berman

After being gone nearly 80 years, the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity is returning to the University of Minnesota campus this fall.

The fraternity is starting recruitment this week, rebuilding the organization from scratch.

National Vice President Matt Humberger said the University chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi is the fraternity’s 17th oldest.

“Anytime we have the opportunity to restart such a historic chapter of ours, it’s definitely something we’re really excited about,” he said.

Staffers from Alpha Sigma Phi’s national headquarters will be recruiting for members on campus until Nov. 18. As part of recruiting, fraternity leaders will hold weekly informational meetings at the 17th Avenue residence hall.

The University’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi doesn’t have any members right now, which makes the process challenging.

Nursing junior Charis Lo was a founding member of the University’s Phi Beta Chi sorority when it came to campus in 2011, also starting from scratch. She said it is “difficult” to get a new greek organization started on
campus.

“There are definitely growing pains just because you start off not knowing what you’re doing,” she said. “Then you’re with such a small amount of people who also don’t know what they’re doing.”

Though the first years were difficult, Lo said, it’s easier now that members are settling into their roles. Now they can focus on recruiting and smaller details, she said.

“If you put in the work, it’s a slow process, but it’ll come together,” Lo said.

A rich history

Alpha Sigma Phi’s first University chapter was established in 1916, but declining membership and financial troubles because of the Great Depression shuttered the fraternity in 1935.

The fraternity has a history at the University. Northrop Auditorium, Morrill Hall and Wangensteen Historical Library are named for Alpha Sigma Phi men.

But now, the fraternity will start anew, becoming a part of the University’s overall push to add 1,000 new greek members by 2018.

Family social science freshman Emma McBride said she’s noticed a strong greek presence at the 17th Avenue residence hall, where Alpha Sigma Phi plans to recruit. McBride said this has made greek life attractive to her and her friends.

“There have been times when we have considered thinking about joining because it seems like so many people here are in greek life,” she said, “but we have decided to stray away for now.”

Matt Levine, director of the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life said the fraternity has been in talks to return for nearly two years, but a decision wasn’t made until the spring.

Levine said the Interfraternity Council has been in charge of the process, while the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, played a supporting role by connecting both groups, helping Alpha Sigma Phi make space reservations and connecting the fraternity to campus resources, like the 17th Avenue residence hall.

After the fraternity’s national staff leave, Humberger said it hopes to have around 40 to 50 members and begin functioning like other campus fraternities.