Tragedy helps to make fraternity stronger

By Grant Miller

Halloween weekend found the Sigma Pi fraternity house in flames. Like a phoenix, Sigma Pi has managed to rise from the ashes all the way to this week’s House of the Week.

The national chapter of the fraternity was founded Feb. 26, 1897 in Vincennes, Ind. The fraternity opened its doors at NIU on May 23, 1959. The fraternity has a current membership of 70 men.

The fire destroyed the house’s lobby, mail room and a resident’s room. Serious smoke damage affected the entire house. House members said they feel the fire was a learning experience.

“The whole thing has really just made us a stronger house,” House Treasurer Mark Kubiuk said. “At first we looked at it as though it were a tragedy, now we see that we are better off now.”

The fraternity is remodeling the affected areas as well as recarpeting the entire house. The house itself is quite interesting in that it is the only greek house of its kind with a kitchen and full bathroom in every resident room. The house also has an on-site weight room.

The weight room is especially helpful for two house members in particular. Dave Regotti won last year’s Greek Physique contest and Andy Bramer holds a number of national teenage weight lifting records.

Because of how the house is built, fraternity members said they feel living there is similar to living in an apartment, with one difference. “You’ve got the privacy of living in an apartment,” John Gall, house sports chair, said. “But you’ve got the luxury of living with 60 of your friends.”

House members said they are not all muscle men. “We have a lot of different types here,” Kubiuk said. “We’ve got scholars and guys who are really outgoing, along with our share of athletes.”

Fraternity members said they take great pride in their house, which in the past has been the sight of the now legendary “Tiki Tiki Island Dance”. Using 10 tons of sand, fraternity members transform the house’s large recreation area into a tropic beach with a fully running waterfall and river.

Of course, greek life isn’t all parties. Sigma Pi also does a good deal of philanthropy work for Multiple Sclerosis. In the past, the fraternity has held events and candy drives for the charity.

House members said they feel living in the fraternity is similar to a business at times. “The fraternity is sort of like a business,” Gall said. “You have to learn how to cooperate and work together with everyone else.”

Other house members said they have found greek life to be a necessary part of the college experience. “College is for academics, but social experiences are important too,” Vice President Steve Siannas said. “Without this fraternity I think I’d be lost.”

Fraternity members stressed that when they look for new members, they do not have any stereotypes in mind. “We just look for guys who are really down to earth and that we can trust,” Kubiuk said. “There are going to be people that you’re going to want to get to know.”

The social calendar for the fraternity is always full. “There always seems to be a mixer to go to, or a dance,” Siannas said. “Or else we will have an after-hours, or just hang out.”

Kubiuk said he encourages all interested in greek life to participate in Spring Rush ‘94. “I think people should get involved, and Sigma Pi is a great place to get involved with,” he said.

“The whole thing (fire) has really just made us a stronger house. At first we looked at it as though it were a tragedy, now we see that we are better off now.”