is a national college fraternity founded in 1920 by veterans of the First World War. Founded as a society of men who endeavor to promote the highest ideals of manhood, brotherhood and citizenship, its members dedicate themselves to a set of six Principles: Value, Learning, Leadership, Excellence, Benefit, Integrity.
The Epsilon Delta Chapter was founded at UMASS Lowell in 1992 and has been going strong ever since. Our members are committed to philanthropy and charity work both on an off campus, and are held to the highest academic standards. The bonds formed by joining Sig Tau remain for life, and our alumni often participate in chapter activities and mentor our active brothers.
Sigma Tau Gamma’s Founders’ grandparents were veterans of the Civil War. That was a domestic quarrel. In bravely heading to fight in World War I, our Founders embarked on a journey that would take them off of domestic soil and back to the old country in a battle unlike any from their generation could have imagined. General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing, a native son of their state of Missouri, was selected by President Woodrow Wilson to command the American Expeditionary Force. As volunteers, our Founding Fathers would leave their Midwestern school and follow him into the War to End All Wars. They were not ordinary men.
In an era when fewer than half of the nation’s young people advance beyond the eighth grade and fewer graduated from high school, these children of farmers, craftsmen, and shopkeepers in the sparsely populated rural counties of western Missouri were pursuing educational degrees. These two-year, post-high school programs qualified them to teach and administer public schools. Almost uniformly, they were as well qualified academically as students at the private and land grant colleges but simply lacked the financial resources necessary for enrollment at those schools. Together, they joined what was then called an Ambulance Company.
Today, we could call them Corpsmen and Emergency Medical Technicians. Near the end of 1918, after 18 months of battle, the armistice came. The war ended, and after serving in the occupational force, they headed home by steamship. While they were overseas, our Founders’ school had become a four-year college. It was in the summer of 1920 when Emmett Ellis, their leader, was 29. This was not a group of starry-eyed children.
They were veterans who had met death face to face and fully realized the essence of a life worth living, manifesting itself in caring for their fellow man. They were determined to continue the bonds of brotherhood they created in the trenches of WWI. This time, they found it through the enlightenment of a liberal arts education. The Founders of Sigma Tau Gamma were hopeful. Thus, Sig Tau began on a warm summer morning in a rooming house at 101 Ming Street, a few blocks from a school dedicated as much as they were to the pursuit of the American dream.
When accepting a man for membership in Sigma Tau Gamma, we are expressing the value we place on calling him friend. We recognize that he has unique talents and will make unique contributions to our brotherhood.
Brotherhood is built upon true friendship. It recognizes that no man is perfect, yet each man has immeasurable worth. As true friends we know each other’s attributes and limitations. Yet, we embrace our friendship without reservation. We take pride in our Brother’s accomplishments. We give consultation and encouragement in defeat. We treat each brother with respect.
In our brotherhood of Value, where each man is held in highest esteem, there is no room and no tolerance for hazing. Each member is equally valued as a brother, whether he is brand new or of long tenure. Our fraternal loyalty is rooted in this belief.
Because every Sig Tau has pledged his loyalty to this belief, it is our duty to embrace every member as a brother, regardless of his chapter. This is the bond that binds our national Fraternity into one brotherhood. Even prospective members can understand this bond because they have experienced a similar bond when accepting without reservation the kinship of a newly met relative. Similar to the bonds of family, this new bond of fraternal brotherhood is a source of strength and security of immeasurable value.
The Principle of Value does not mean that we harbor those who violate the Constitution, Laws, and Rituals of our Fraternity, or who violate the laws of our nation, state or community, or who violate the codes of our college or university. Just as in a good family, brotherhood in Sigma Tau Gamma calls us to live by high moral standards. We will certainly always care for every brother, but we will also always demand of every brother that he live by the ideals that define our brotherhood. Thus we enhance the worth of belonging.
Men come to membership in Sigma Tau Gamma through their college or university. They are students. Like their fellow students, they have come to college to obtain a degree. Our Founders were similarly occupied. Most of the Founders had earned a Normal School Diploma by 1920. At the time, this diploma (one-year advance from a high school diploma) qualified them to receive a lifetime teaching certificate. Their job credentials were complete. Yet, they were not satisfied. Our Founders understood that learning is a life-long process. Moreover, they recognized that quality learning does not happen by accident. One must set a course for learning. All of our Founders completed their baccalaureate degrees. Many pursued advanced degrees. They dedicated their lives, not only to learn-ing, but also to the service of learning. They were, each and every one, teachers.
In Sigma Tau Gamma we embrace the spirit of our Founders. That spirit first finds expression in the classroom. Sig Taus faithfully attend class knowing that they have a clear duty to self and their Fraternity to do so. Sig Taus complete their assignments thoughtfully and on time. They study for their tests. More than this, Sig Taus practice healthy habits. They know that nutrition, exercise and rest are essential components to academic success. Sig Taus understand that formal education is the foundation of learning. After all, it is formal because it is set by the wisdom of the ages.
As men of culture, Sig Taus know that learning is not confined to career goals. Rather, it includes eager discovery of technical and scientific knowledge, philosophy, literature and the arts. No matter what our career goals, we pursue the liberal education of a cultured man.
Sigma Tau Gamma chapters are called upon to support this endeavor by managing programming and the environment of the chapter house so that our members encounter no obstacle to class attendance and study. We read and together attend plays, concerts and shows and enjoy museums of the arts, sciences and history. Thus we afford the environment for learning.
Sigma Tau Gamma is a laboratory of leadership. It is so because it offers its Brothers the opportunity to hold elective office, to manage chapter and household finances and to represent the chapter at the university and national Fraternity level. Yet, this is but a corner of the laboratory. In Sigma Tau Gamma, Brothers learn they are part of a team. They learn that in a team each person has the responsibility of leadership. Leadership is accepting personal responsibility for group outcomes. No matter a person’s position on the team, he can influence outcomes through cooperation, initiative, effort and example.
No man is a leader who cannot call other men to his cause. Sigma Tau Gamma gives each Brother the opportunity to recruit new members. What Sigma Tau Gamma offers to each new Brother is intangible and abstract. To learn to share such mysteries with another and to gain their belief and commitment embodies the essence of leadership. Thus we develop good leaders for America.
In Sigma Tau Gamma we compete. We compete in athletics, academics and even in campus and community service. We compete in recruitment. We have a competitive spirit. With this competitive spirit we pursue excellence.
We understand that excellence is achieved through teamwork. That is why we look like a team. Sig Taus wear the Greek letters, and the Coat of Arms, and the badge, not to exclude others, but to proclaim that we are a team.
That is why we set team goals, draft team strategies and practice as a team. Whether we are participating in a study group or practicing basketball, we are developing personal skills that contribute to our mutual success.
In Sigma Tau Gamma we learn that excellence is not about “me” it is about “us.” No one of us is as smart, as tough, as enduring, or as good as the team. A collection of men with average talent working as a team will beat a collection of men with superior talent working as individuals in every contest. Sig Taus harness the power of teamwork. Thus, we strive for superior performance.
As brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma we enjoy a fraternalism that is akin to family. We understand that this special bond is imbued with a mutual responsibility to care for one another. As we grow in our understanding, we acknowledge the privilege of our life. We realize that in a world of famine and disease and poverty we are fortunate to live in a nation where higher education is afforded to anyone with the will to claim it. We comprehend that this privilege is built upon the sacrifice of those who preceded us. In fact, we look to our Founders, Veterans of the First World War, and realize that our own Fraternity is the manifestation of the incredible power of giving. With this understanding, we graciously welcome the burden of sustaining our noble heritage.
That is why, in Sigma Tau Gamma it is in-congruent to be selfish. We care for one another. We care for our Brother’s family and friends. We care for our fellow students, our community and our nation.
We especially care for those less fortunate than are we. We seek to help through projects of service and support. We draw upon the extraordinary power of our teamwork to benefit others. Thus we serve Fraternity, college and country.
In Sigma Tau Gamma brotherhood boils down to this: I can count on you; you can count on me. This is perhaps the most challenging Principle. It is also the foundation upon which all other Principles rest.
A Sig Tau is on time for class, and for work, and for all of his commitments. He gives a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. He pays his financial obligations in full (or arranges full payment) within five days of the due date.
A Sig Tau is trustworthy. He is honest. He tells the truth. His word is his bond. You can count on a Sig Tau. Thus, we perfect a structure of honor.