For many years, Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha have existed as Hardin-Simmons University student organizations. However, big changes are now underway for both clubs which will provide service and community opportunities for students across campus.
Sigma Alpha Iota is an international music women’s fraternity, and Phi Mu Alpha is a national fraternity. Local chapters of both clubs have been open to HSU students who have taken at least one music course on campus. International and national guidelines have restricted the chapters in who they can accept as members, high dues and other costs and how many members have to be active in the organization in order for the local chapters to remain active.
Because of these strict policies, the existing clubs have decided to break away from the international and national clubs and create local clubs that can be open to more students on campus.
Maranda Westbrook is a senior human services administration major from Italy, Texas, and she currently serves as the women’s club president. Jacob Catchings is a senior music business administration major from Dallas, and he currently serves as men’s club president. Each president had information to share with the student body about what these changes mean, starting with the clubs’ new names.
“We decided to choose some names [for our new local clubs] that were kind of symbolic of music, so the guys are Mu Sigma Kappa, which abbreviates to MSK, which looks like ‘music’,” Westbrook said. “The girls are now Sigma Nu Gamma, which is SNG, which looks like ‘sing’ or ‘song’.”
The most significant structural change that the clubs are undergoing involves removing the strict eligibility requirements that were demanded by the previous national and international organizations.
“The biggest change is we have created our own Greek groups and are now in the recruiting phase,” Catchings said. “We would love to take in any members interested in music and the joys that come with music.”
Students can join these clubs even if they are already a member of another group club or campus organization. The club is no longer restricted only to students who have taken a music course, anybody with an interest in music can join. Many of the responsibilities of Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha will be retained by the new clubs, SNG and MSK.
“Since we’ve always been service-oriented, we help out with the school of music a lot. There are student recitals, and we make sure that the students attending receive credit for any music classes they are in,” Westbrook said.
Beyond managing class credits, the groups are also in charge of organizing student recital receptions-- featuring a super secret punch recipe that is part of their tradition-- and making sure one of the largest campus events takes place successfully: All-School Sing.
Each club is coming up with new ideas that will allow their members to be more involved across the rest of campus, and more information on those events will be available through social media and student life resources.
Right now, the current member numbers for each club are small. Preserving these clubs is a top priority for Catchings, Westbrook and each club’s remaining members.
“Although we only have a couple of people right now, we want music to live on on campus,” Catchings said. “The music building and programs have taken a big hit here at HSU and we want to see the fraternities remain strong… we are here to send a message that music is powerful and inspiring and can be enjoyed by all.”
This truth has been foundational for both organizations. In sharing the history of the club, Westbrook mentioned that this is not the first significant change that has occured.
“We’ve had a men’s and women’s group on this campus for decades, but it hasn’t always been Phi Mu Alpha and Sigma Alpha Iota,” Westbrook said. “So our club, even though it’s changing, it’s changed before... even though we’re creating a new thing, we’re still staying true to who we’ve always been.”
For students who are interested in joining Sigma Nu Gamma, Maranda Westbrook can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and those interested in Mu Sigma Kappa can contact Jacob Catchings at email@example.com.