After more than a year of planning and preparing, Kappa Sigma gained official status as Stevens Institute of Technology’s newest fraternity and member of Greek life. The accomplishment was commemorated on Jan. 28 as Kappa Sigma founding fathers, headquarters officials, brothers from neighboring chapters, school officials and family members gathered to celebrate the installment.
Nationally, Kappa Sigma – the largest and fastest growing college fraternity – has more than 230,000 members. Founded on Dec. 10, 1869, its foundation is built around four pillars: fellowship, leadership, scholarship and service. Each individual chapter is responsible for demonstrating and representing these pillars.
The idea to bring a Kappa Sigma chapter to Stevens came in Fall 2010 when Stevens student Ralph Julian Gallo, now grand master, inquired about starting a new fraternity on campus.
“I was looking for a group to get active,” Gallo said. “To me, there just wasn’t enough school spirit on campus, and that needed to change.”
With this initial goal in mind, Gallo and a group of about ten other students presented their idea to school officials. Both Ken Nilsen, dean of Student Affairs, and Nathalie Waite, associate director for Student Life, helped to launch the fraternity.
“I’ve been working with Kappa Sigma for a year to reach fraternity status,” said Waite. “The members came to me looking to branch into the areas they felt were significant. They stressed the importance of supporting school events, including but not limited to athletics.”
The process of starting a fraternity chapter involves first being recognized as a colony, which is considered the “middleman” position in Greek life. Colonies must meet standards set by both Kappa Sigma headquarters and the individual university in order to advance to chapter status.
With Waite and Nilsen’s guidance, the process of becoming a colony and later a full-fledged fraternity began. Members were required to attend information sessions, meet community service goals, and work with faculty and headquarters advisors. By Spring 2011, the group could officially call themselves a colony.
This past fall, new goals and objectives for the colony were achieved.
“We had a lot of requirements from headquarters that had to be met,” said grand treasurer Cody Kylor. “We had to complete a petition to charter, establish bylaws, complete community service, raise money for our selected philanthropy and obtain letters of recommendation.”
Aside from Waite and Nilsen, a Kappa Sigma area recruitment manager, Trey Weitzel, served as a headquarters advisor for the colony.
“Weitzel would report our progress back to Kappa Sigma headquarters and made sure everything stayed on track,” said Kylor. “He was also there to help us out and give us ideas and guidance when we needed it.”
The colony held various charitable events to meet their community service quota.
“We worked with Hoboken and kept most of the charity pretty local,” said Gallo.
Kappa Sigma has collaborated with the Hoboken Cultural Affairs Committee in the past and plans to keep doing so. Members also visited and donated services to several shelters and nonprofit organizations.
“Besides group activities, each of us also had to complete an additional 25 hours of service to exceed colony status,” Gallo added.
After all documents were in order and goals were met, the colony gained status as an official Kappa Sigma chapter. They celebrated the charter gala during which the 33 founding fathers of the Stevens Kappa Sigma chapter were installed by members from four other chapters.
Current offices held within the chapter are as follows: Gallo, grandmaster; Paul Pavlich, grand procurator; Drew Capone, grand secretary; and Kylor, grand treasurer.
Now that the chapter has official status, Kappa Sigma members will be expected to attend pledge classes. They will also be able to participate in formal Greek life meetings and Greek-sponsored events on campus.
Members say that scholarship, one of the four pillars, is at the top of the new fraternity’s priority list. Stevens requires that all Greek members hold at least a 2.5 GPA, but Kappa Sigma has set their minimum at a 2.7.
“We offer tutoring and study sessions for our brothers so that this requirement can be met,” said Gallo.
There are no current concrete plans for obtaining a Kappa Sigma fraternity house yet.
“It’s just not the most important thing for us right now,” said Kylor. “We just finished up the all of the events to get chapters status, and we agreed that it’s more important to get back to focusing on school spirit and pledge projects.”
True to Kylor’s words, Kappa Sigma brothers are now focusing on rush events as well as expanding upon their idea of boosting campus-wide spirit.
“Eventually, we would like to set up some sort of a program with the rest of the Greek community on campus to come out and support the events happening around us,” said Gallo. “We’re a smaller school, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show big support.”
Kappa Sigma is open to accepting new members with all different interests and backgrounds. The current members participate in a plethora of activities, sports, and programs.
“We started this frat to add a new element to Stevens’ Greek life. Kappa Sigma is about giving back to Stevens,” Gallo said.