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About Sigma Alpha Epsilon

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Our Mission

The mission of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is to promote the highest standards of friendship, scholarship, and service for our members based upon the ideals set forth by our Founders and as specifically enunciated in our creed, “The True Gentleman.”

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SAE is North America’s largest social fraternity with more than 310,000 initiated members.

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The Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity has more than 240 chapters on college campuses throughout the United States, with nearly 14,000 collegiate members and 190,000 living alumni. We are the first national fraternity to establish a Leadership School to educate our undergraduates and the first national fraternity to build a central headquarters building.  Sigma Alpha Epsilon has initiated more than 310,000 men since badge sequences were first recorded. The average colony size is 32 men, and the average colony GPA is 3.1.

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Quick Facts

National Founding Date:  March 9, 1856
National Founding Location:  University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Motto:  Phi Alpha
Creed:  The True Gentleman
Colors:  Royal Purple & Old Gold
Flower:  Violet
Symbols:  Minerva, Phoenix, Lion, Fleur-de-lis
Publications:  The Record, The Phi Alpha
Headquarters:  Levere Memorial Temple, Evanston IL

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The True Gentleman

[box] The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.                               – John Walter Wayland[/box]

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The True Gentleman is the fraternal creed of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. This is what our organization revolves around, and is the lifeblood of SAE. From the very first day a member enters SAE they are challenged to live the life of a True Gentleman. Members explorer the meaning of our sacred creed beyond just its words, and uncover its deepest of meanings.

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Local History

This section will be complete soon

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National History

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded March 9, 1856 at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Its eight founders included five seniors. Noble Leslie DeVotie, John Barratt Rudolph, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Webb Kerr, and Wade Foster, and three juniors, Samuel Marion Dennis, Abner Edwin Patton and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie who had written the ritual, devised the grip and chosen the name. The badge was designed by Rudolph. Of all existing fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only one founded in the ante-bellum South.

Founded in a time of growing and intense sectional feeling, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, although it determined at the outset to extend to other colleges, confined its growth to the southern states. Extension was vigorous, however, and by the end of 1857 the Fraternity counted seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the time of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established.

The Fraternity had fewer than four hundred members when the Civil War began. Of those, 369 went to war for the Confederacy and seven fought with the Union forces. Every member of the chapters at Hampden-Sydney, Georgia Military Institute, Kentucky Military Institute an d Oglethorpe University fought for the gray. Members from the Columbian College, William and Mary and Bethel (KY) were in both armies. Seventy members of the Fraternity lost their lives in the War, including Noble Leslie DeVotie, who is officially recorded in the annals of the War as the first man on either side to give his life.

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Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was the daughter of Jupiter (Zeus). She was said to have leaped forth from his head, mature, and in complete armour. She presided over the useful and ornamental arts, both those of men – such as agriculture and navigation – and those of women, – spinning, weaving, and needlework. Minerva produced the olive tree, and was awarded a city; and it was named after her, Athens, her name in Greek being Athena.

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Greek mythology places the phoenix in Arabia where every morning at dawn it bathes in the water and sings a beautiful song. So beautiful is the song that the sun god would stop his chariot to listen. There only exists one phoenix at a time. When the phoenix feels death approaching it builds a nest, sets it on fire, and is consumed by the flames. A new phoenix springs forth from the pyre. It then embalms the ashes of it’s predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flies with it to the City of the Sun.

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The lion is a strong symbol of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The Lion represents courage, strength, and heart. They are associated with radiant solar energy. In astrology, with the sign Leo, they remind us to take time to relax and bask in the sun and to enjoy the warmth of our accomplishments. Because they live and hunt together, Lions can also symbolize strength in our family and friendship ties.

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The coat-of-arms is a shield quartered, each quarter having a specific meaning to SAE brothers. A helmet, mantling, and a crest surmount the shield. The crest depicts Minerva, a lion, and the Greek letters ΦΑ in a wreath. Beneath the shield is a scroll bearing the name of the Fraternity in Greek. It should also be noted that the main logo used by our chapter comes from the first quarter of the coat-of-arms.

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The badge of the Fraternity is diamond-shaped, a little less than an inch long and bears on a background of nazarene blue enamel the device of Minerva, with a lion crouching at her feet, above which are the letters Sigma Alpha Epsilon in gold. Below are the letters Phi Alpha on a white ground in a wreath. The colors are royal purple and old gold. The flower is the violet. The colors of the pledge pin are nazarene blue, white and gold with Phi Alpha in letters surrounded by a wreath.

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The flag is rectangular in form, the length being roughly one-and-a-half times the width. The background of the flag is royal purple. In a field of gold in the upper left corner of the flag appear the Greek letters ΦΑ in royal purple. Beneath the field are eight gold five-pointed stars, seven of which are arranged in circular form around the eight. The Greek letters ΣΑΕ appear in an ascending diagonal arrangement across the right side of the flag.

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The Levere Memorial Temple

photo478The fraternity’s international headquarters, known as the Fraternity Service Center, is maintained at the Levere Memorial Temple in Evanston, Illinois. Honoring all the members of the fraternity who have served their countries in the armed forces since 1856, it was dedicated on December 28, 1930.

The Temple also contains what is considered the most complete library pertaining to Greek-letter fraternities and sororities. The museum on the first floor is devoted to a collection of interesting historical photographs, pictures, and collections from private sources. The walls of the building are hung with oil portraits of distinguished members.

The basement contains the Panhellenic Room, on the ceiling of which are the coats-of-arms of 40 college fraternities and 17 sororities, while the niches on the north side contain large murals showing the founding of Phi Beta Kappa in 1776 and that of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1856, together with other murals depicting episodes in the history of the fraternity. Perhaps the most outstanding mural in the Panhellenic Room is the reproduction of Raphael’s The School of Athens, painted by Johannes Waller in the 1930s.

The building continues to be used for ceremonies and receptions by the various fraternities, sororities, and honor societies at Northwestern University.

The impressive chapel of the Temple, with its soaring vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows by Tiffany is used regularly for religious services, and has been the scene of many weddings of Evanstonians and members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In fact, the entire building is open to the public for patriotic, religious, and educational purposes, while the library is also free to scholars seeking material pertaining to the history of any or all college fraternities and college organizations.

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The Story of Paddy Murphy

The story and legacy of Paddy Murphy has easily become one of the greatest traditions of any national fraternity. The American 1920′s saw an amendment to the Constitution which put the country’s alcohol consumption to an end.

However, it did not entirely cease due to the rise of bootlegging which allowed people to enjoy their delicious beverages once again. Paddy Murphy was said to be a bootlegger working for Al Capone out of Chicago. Paddy ran bootlegging deals for Capone for many years until a US prohibition agent, Elliott Ness, become hot on Murphy’s case. After searching for Murphy for quite some time, Ness finally receives a tip one night that Murphy can be found unloading a bootlegged ship at a downtown Chicago dock.

Ness and the boys get down there and sure enough, they find Paddy on the docks. Ness and Murphy get into a heated gun battle, and Ness eventually gets a hit on Murphy, sending him to the ground. Ness approaches the neutralized Murphy and somewhere in the discussion, Murphy reveals that he is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Ness, being a member himself, realizes he had just killed his own brother. Ness and Murphy exchange the secret SAE handshake, and Murphy dies. Ness, feeling so guilty about his actions, orders for Murphy to have a large, city-wide funeral service in remembrance of his fallen brother.

Around the same time every year (typically between March and May), chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon launch a Paddy Murphy week, at the conclusion of which they elect a Paddy Murphy from among their graduating seniors and have a mock funeral procession through campus. This ceremony is used to congratulate our graduating seniors and remind them of one important thing as they enter the post-college world: SAE’s are everywhere and could be anyone.