One of the many fascinating elements of reading past issues of The Emerald is generating a basic idea of the climate within a Sigma Pi chapter during the early years of the fraternity. I recently finished reading the January 1916 issue of The Emerald which featured a lengthy update on the Kappa Chapter of Sigma Pi and its history at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What I liked best about reading this update from the Kappa Chapter is that they told a wonderful story regarding the history of their chapter. And I might add that they told their story in a beautifully written piece where the language was rich and the content was deep. There are no writers today who put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in as beautiful, meaningful, and precise a language as what I have read in the old issues of The Emerald.
Some other interesting notes and observations from the January 1916 issue of The Emerald:
Who Should Be Elected to the Grand Council?
This is of particular interest to me since I am running for the Grand Council next month. There was an editorial in The Emerald that gives good advice on the type of person who should not be elected to the Grand Council. The magazine says: “…the distance between good intentions and actual results from hard work is so infinite, that to elect or reelect a man simply because he appears to love the Fraternity; to propose the name of a man simply to get chapter representation or to hold on to a man who has proven his worthlessness, not only injures the Fraternity at large but seriously handicaps the Grand Chapter.”
What to Expect at Convocation
Next month’s Convocation will be the eighth one that I have attended. Before attending my first Convocation in 2002, I had no idea what to expect. Well, for brothers who find themselves in a similar position to the one that I was in 14 years ago, here is what the editors of The Emerald wrote to prepare Sigma Pi Fraternity for Convocation 100 years ago: “The coming Convocation is the logical and appointed time to shoulder all your grievances, protests or recommendations and go after the ‘powers’ without gloves. All delegates should come ‘armed to the teeth’ with sound arguments to propel their pet hobbies through the ranks of the ‘enemy.’ The man who has to stop to think is going to find it rough sledding.”
What is the Executive Council?
In this issue as in prior issues, The Emerald lists both the Grand Council as well as something called the Executive Council. It seems to me like the so-called Executive Council is either the group of people who worked for the fraternity at the time or an expanded governing body of volunteers, which we sorely need today. Seven Grand Council members just does not cut it in 2016 – we need more.
The “Father of Chapters”
The brothers at the Kappa Chapter referred to themselves as the “Father of Chapters” because they set up two iterations of the Delta Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania and the Theta Chapter at Penn State University. Back in 1916, there were only 9 active chapters so Kappa Chapter’s claim was pretty legitimate.
Who was the First Grand Sage?
Throughout their update, the Kappa Chapter talks about so-and-so being elected as the Chancellor of the chapter. Based on what I’ve read, it sounds like the position of Sage used to be called Chancellor. At some point in their update, they mention that Kappa Chapter alumnus M. Atlee Ermold attended Convocation at the end of October 1910. During that Convocation, Ermold was elected as the Grand Sage of the fraternity and was “the first man in Sigma Pi to hold that title.” Interesting. So were Francis L. Lisman and Winford L. Mattoon not the “Grand Sage” but, instead, the National Chancellors of Sigma Pi Fraternity?
No Love for the Herald!
Incidentally, they refer to the chapter’s Executive Council as the Sage, First Counselor, Second Counselor, Third Counselor, Fourth Counselor, and “fifth member.” No love for the Herald position back in 1916!
Fall and Spring Convocations – Not Summer
Also, whenever Convocation is referenced in the old issues of The Emerald, it never takes place during the summer months. Rather, the Convocations seem to have taken place during the months of April and October. Why did this change? The fraternity appears to be so disconnected during the summer months and most of today’s undergraduates are busy working summer jobs to pay increasing tuition, textbook, and off-campus living costs that it seems like holding an event during the school year might actually generate higher attendance along with some cost savings. Who knows? It’s probably worth some research. Here is a screenshot of the invitation to the 1916 Convocation that was included in the magazine:
Kappa Takes a Shot at New Jersey!
As a New Jersey guy I have to take issue with Kappa Chapter’s comment that one of the negatives about a recent initiate is that “he hails from Camden, NJ, that barnacle which clings to Philadelphia’s water line.” How dare you?! We didn’t even have any New Jersey chapters back then to defend our good name!
The Worthiness of Inter-Fraternity Councils
I laughed out loud after reading this line in one of the editorials: “We sometimes wonder whether local Interfraternity Councils are of any real value or not.” Ha ha! Oh, if the editors of the magazine could only see some of the IFCs on our campuses today…
That is all that I have for this review of the January 1916 edition of the magazine. If you are interested in this type of stuff, then I encourage you to check out the online archive of The Emerald by clicking here!