In 1906, the Masonic Club was established at Yale for students who were Masons. It had no ritual, and its meetings were not secret. The club was, for all intents and purposes, purely social in nature. While the club played no part in the reactivation of Alpha Chapter, a group of men who made their acquaintances through the club were instrumental in bringing Alpha Sigma Phi back to Yale. One Saturday afternoon in December 1906, four friends who were all members of the Masonic Club were playing cards in a student rooming house on Whalley Avenue. The room was shared by Robert L. Ervin and Benjamin F. Crenshaw. Visiting them were Arthur E. Ely and Edwin M. Waterbury. During their card playing, conversations turned to the Yale fraternity system. Junior and senior societies were then the only fraternities left at Yale.
The sophomore societies had been banned in 1875, and the freshman societies, except for Gamma Nu, were forbidden in 1880. In 1889, the non-secret freshman society, Gamma Nu, died out, and the junior fraternities moved their elections to the start of the sophomore year. Yale fraternity members did not live in houses but met in "tombs," large windowless lodges that had an air of mystery and secrecy surrounding them. To this day, the senior societies at Yale retain their traditions by utilizing windowless tombs as meeting halls.
In 1907, there were junior fraternities, senior societies, Sheffield fraternities, some of which did operate fraternity houses with lodging rooms for members, and a few university fraternities that admitted members from all of Yale's departments and schools. As these four men discussed the system, they came to the conclusion that the Yale system of their day put too much emphasis on class and college (department) loyalty at the expense of the development of a strong university spirit.
RENAISSANCE OF THE OLD GAL
The reactivation of Alpha began the growth of the Old Gal into a true national fraternity. The first National Convention took place at Marietta College in 1907. At the Convention, attended by Alpha and Delta Chapters, a confederation was established, whereby each chapter gave up complete autonomy. Under the new system, a national organization was created wherein each chapter had an equal voice.
At the National Convention held in June 1907, a Constitution to govern the Fraternity was drafted and sent to the two chapters then in the confederation for ratification. Alpha ratified on October 7, 1907, and Delta on October 21, 1907. From that time forward, there has been a real and separate entity that governs itself and each of the chapters of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. Initially, laws that govern the Fraternity were divided into a Constitution, Bylaws, Consolidated Laws, Codes, Regulations and Rituals of the Fraternity, and Regulations of the Chapters.
MERGER WITH PHI PI PHI
Phi Pi Phi was founded in 1915 at Northwestern as a graduate fraternity. In 1923, it became an undergraduate college fraternity and grew to twenty-one chapters by 1930. The market crash of October 1929 and the Great Depression hit the young Phi Pi Phi Fraternity hard. By 1930, there were only about seven active chapters, and no proper national staff was left to administer the fraternity's operations.
Discussions took place between Phi Pi Phi and Alpha Sigma Phi during 1937 and into 1938. One element of the merger proposal that impressed Phi Pi Phi was the willingness of Alpha Sigma Phi to take in all initiates of Phi Pi Phi, not just the undergraduate members of active chapters. By the merger in 1939, Alpha Sigma Phi added chapters at Case Institute, Baldwin Wallace, Westminster, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Purdue University. The announcement of the merger was made in 1938, and special initiations took place up until 1944 for Phi Pi Phi alumni. Even after 1944, alumni from Phi Pi Phi would come forward and ask to be initiated, in spite of the fact they were already recognized alumni of the "Old Gal."
The 56th Grand Chapter is just around the corner. If you're joining us in New Orleans, please review the Pre-Event Guide to prepare for your travels. See you in NOLA!