Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity Returns To Harvard After 53-Year Absence
For the first time in 53 years, 35 Harvard undergraduates were initiated as members of the national fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu's Lambda chapter on Monday night, officers of the local group said yesterday.
According to the founding members, the fraternity will have no ties to Harvard or any of its student groups. Sigma Alpha Mu will remain a "colony" and will not become an official chapter until after a year of trial membership, said Jonathan L. Brisman '90, president of the local fraternity.
College policy stipulates that organizations that have national affiliations or that are single sex cannot be recognized as official student groups or conduct their activities on campus. Thus, although the chapter consists solely of Harvard students, it cannot use the University's name or any of its facilities.
Sigma Alpha Mu members said that while Harvard does not support fraternities, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III has acknowledged their right to exist as long as they do not recruit on campus. Epps was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Richard M. Geyser '90-'91, a member of the group, said that although Sigma Alpha Mu has been traditionally a Jewish fraternity, the group will be non-sectarian and will not discriminate on the base of race, religion or socio-economic status.
But Geyser did say women would not be accepted, explaining that traditionally a fraternity is made up only of male members.
The fraternity will act as a network between other chapters in the area, including one at Boston University and sororities at Tufts University, Geyser said.
Geyser also stressed that the fraternity will have no connection to the Harvard Hillel. Brisman went on to say that only 10 out of the 35 members of Sigma Alpha Mu were actively involved with Hillel at all.
John S. Savett '89-'90, the student chair of Hillel, said he frowned on any organization that might be seen as elitist and that might make people uncomfortable. He said the fraternity also reflects poorly on the Hillel because Hillel has always tried to be a social organization promoting a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
Brisman said there will be no hazing at the fraternity. He said the organization would require pledges to become involved in community service projects. Brisman also said that each member will pay social dues to finance dinners and parties.
Members of the group said a chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu existed at Harvard from 1916 to 1936.