Jewish men interested in joining a Jewish fraternity will have a second option to choose from this quarter, as Sigma Alpha Mu opens its first rush season.
More popularly known as Sammy, the fraternity starts rush this quarter after several months in the UCSB Greek Affairs accreditation process. According to the Greek Life website, Sammy was founded in 1909 and has chapters in both Canada and the U.S.
“Since Sammy has a prominent alumni advisory board as well as well-known alums, such as the creators of Yahoo, Qualcomm and the Las Vegas strip, it is good to put UCSB on the map, seeing as how there are so many intelligent people that attend school here,” said Matt Witenstein, assistant executive director of Sammy.
Greek Affairs officially accredited Sammy, with its original five members, last spring, and the Inter-Fraternity Council voted unanimously to accept it this fall, said Kyle Hillstead, IFC president.
While Sammy has been approved by the necessary parties, it is still within a mandatory “preliminary period,” which ends October 2007. After this period, during which Greek Affairs will closely monitor the organization, it can be established as a fully-fledged fraternity at UCSB.
The IFC is providing some of the funding and assistance Sammy needs to get on its feet this quarter, Hillstead said. Official Greek rush weeks generally occur in the fall and spring of each year, but some organizations choose to rush winter as well, he said.
Although Alpha Epsilon Pi already exists as a Jewish fraternity, Witenstein said another such Greek organization is necessary to accommodate the campus population density.
“There are approximately 1,800 Jews on the UCSB campus, so it makes sense to enlarge and to add to the great things that AEPi has already done,” Witenstein said.
Witenstein said he is optimistic that interest in Sammy will be strong at UCSB.
“We are a culture of people, but we are not all the same,” Witenstein said. “Thus, Sammy’s establishment will not affect AEPi membership because everyone has different interests and each fraternity represents two different groups of people.”
According to AEPi’s website, the fraternity focuses on member diversity, maintaining a full social calendar and staying active in sports. The national AEPi website notes that the fraternity seeks to develop Jewish leaders in a social and cultural atmosphere rather than a religious one.
One member of AEPi, third-year business economics major Geoff Woods, echoed Witenstein’s assertion that the new fraternity would not bring with it a negative rivalry.
“For us, it’s not a matter of detracting from membership,” Woods said. “The Greek scene is all about the house that’s right for you. For us, as a Jewish frat, if there’s another house that would like to establish themselves as a Jewish fraternity, that’s great. It’s all about the Jewish culture.”