COLUMBIA — After *more than a 12 year hiatus, MU might get a new Jewish-interest sorority. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi would be the first such sorority at MU since the *1990s. But it isn’t the only such group with a religious focus.
MU is full of student social organizations including cultural groups, agricultural clubs and Greek life. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, if approved as a full sorority, would expand the categories of organizations available to students.
The group is holding an informational meeting for new members at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hillel on University Avenue. For additional information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For junior business major Amanda Rude, none of the existing groups felt quite right for her. “As a freshman, I was really disappointed there was not a Jewish sorority on campus. I didn’t do anything about it until my sophomore year, when I started asking about the possibility of starting one.”
Rude started an interest group last semester, which recruited about 10 members. They have since taken on the title of a "colony" of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi and must remain titled as such for one academic year. Their ultimate goal is to be recognized as a chapter.
A colony is simply one step closer to becoming a chapter. As a colony, the group is now allowed to identify with Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority; however, it still cannot officially use those Greek letters in signage.
After one year as a colony, the group will be able to initiate as a chapter and could be recognized by MU. If this happens, the sorority would be an officially sanctioned campus group and will experience the same affiliation that other Greek houses currently enjoy.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi was founded at the University of California - Davis campus in October 1998. Sigma means "sisters of'," and the national organization is recognized as the sisters of the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.
While the fraternity on the MU campus is not part of the process, Rude says the women do look forward to working with Alpha Epsilon Pi in the future.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi will not be the only sorority at MU based on a religious faith. Sigma Phi Lambda is a Christian sorority whose members support the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi organization.
“I think it is a good idea. It is about needing to find someway to stay in touch with God while in college and not go crazy,” said Christine Shirley, sophomore Sigma Phi Lambda member. “It is important to have sororities of faith because it is nice to have people to turn to while you are away from home when you are having troubles.”
There are also Christian fraternities on campus that fought for establishment. In the spring semester of 2007, the university gave up its fight to stop Beta Upsilon Chi from requiring members to be of the Christian faith. At the time, MU policy prohibited any restrictions on membership that were based on religious beliefs. The policy does not apply today.
While this fraternity does have a chapter at MU, the Panhellenic Conference does not recognize it as an official member. Because Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi is planning to become a Panhellenic Conference member, it does not accept only women of the Jewish faith.
“We are open to all girls, but we hold our Jewish faith important," Rude said. "Nationally, about 20 percent of the girls involved in Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi are not Jewish.”