The History of Kappa Sigma
Origins and the 1960's
By the fall of 1960, Kenneth Lundberg (a sophomore Music Education student) had taken it upon himself to thoroughly investigate the various music fraternities, and came to the decision that the one that would be the best for the musically-inclined men of Valpo was Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. On October 28, he contacted the fraternity regarding the possibility of forming a chapter at Valparaiso University. Three days later, the fraternity responded with the list of requirements for becoming a chapter. Even before the decision was made to actively pursue this course, the organizers were torn between the extremes of professional & social; the former path would create an inbred group of "music snobs" with little or no contact with the rest of the world, and the latter would create yet another party fraternity with nothing to differentiate it from the other social Greek fraternities on campus. The early members of the chapter wanted to walk the fine line of balance between those two positions.
On February 9, 1961, the group of interested men got together for a planning meeting. A few weeks later, on March 21, the group elected a provisional administration, with Ken Lundberg as the first president and Dr. Newman Powell as the first Faculty Advisor. Over the next few weeks, the group worked on completing the requirements for establishing a chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Valparaiso Univerisity.
On April 23, 1961, the big day came. The province governor of Province 4, Maurice F. Shadley (Indiana University), and a team from Delta Iota (Western Michigan Univerisity) initiated the Kappa Sigma chapter at Valparaiso University. The initiation did not go as smoothly as it might have, in large part because the initiation team, for whatever reason, used the 1960 version of the ritual (though they called it the "Old Ritual")--a version which was supposedly strongly disliked and never adopted by many or most other chapters. One charter member was so offended for religious reasons that he walked out and could not be persuaded to return to the ceremony. (He re-pledged two years later, after the chapter received permission from the province governor to make minor revisions to the ritual for local use.)
The first few years of the chapter were marked by friction with the local SAI chapter, both because SAI was no longer the only musical organization on campus, and because the SAIs often viewed the fledgling chapter more as little brothers than as equals. The tension between the professional and social sides of the organization was also present, but the chapter made a concerted effort to be as musically involved on campus as possible, but to also have as much non-musical fun as possible. These efforts lasted throughout much of the chapter's first decade. The chapter histories speak of "smokers," toga parties, pledge raids and the like, but right along with that were attempts to save the campus radio station, writing for the music columns in the fine arts section of the campus newspaper, staging frequent performances of great music, and the like--even the coup of having the O.P. Kretzmann, who had been university president for some twenty years at that point, publically state that Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia was the first student organization on campus that he had any desire to join. (This statement was made when he was made an honorary member of the chapter.)
By the end of the first decade, Kappa Sigma was increasingly feeling like something of a "black sheep" in the fraternity. As they made more contacts with other chapters in their province, they found that they were often quite different from that of many of the other chapters, where music and professionalism were emphasized over all other things--exactly one of the two extremes that Kappa Sigma had long sought to avoid. The brothers of Kappa Sigma had strong reservations about the ritual and the national by-laws stance on rushing and pledging, and the other chapters apparently felt that Kappa Sigma was too social and had no respect for tradition. Some of the other chapters even felt that the very fact of owning a house diminished the emphasis on music. (At that time, as now, there were only five or so chapters of FMA that had a house.)
Things came to a head of sorts in the fall of 1969. The province governor passed along a warning that the national organization was threatening expulsion for any chapter that did not perform the ritual in its entirety, and that that semester's ritual might be inspected. Kappa Sigma had had problems with the ritual for as long as they'd been a chapter; their most recent solution at that time was apparently to simply not perform several portions of the ritual. Needless to say, the warning did not go over well. Then came the annual Province 39 Workshop (consisting of all of the Indiana chapters), which was held in Valpo that year. As it happens, this happened just after Kappa Sigma received permission to be transferred to Province 4 (which then consisted of all of the chapters in the Chicago area). There were a number of rather heated discussions, culminating in a motion by a member of Kappa Sigma to change the meaning of one of the letters of the fraternity! The vote for this was Kappa Sigma for, every other present chapter against. From the viewpoint of Kappa Sigma, the chapters in Province 4 seemed much more amenable to KS and their opinions, and after the bad feelings raised in Province 39, things were finally looking up.
However, all was not happy at 810 Brown Street. Attendance at meetings steadily declined, to the point where the secretary started regularly recording absenses as "Absent from the role of Brother were..." The chapter seemed to be splintering into a small core of upperclassmen who got everything done but would be graduating soon, and a "silent majority" of members whose feelings towards the chapter organization ranged from simply a lower priority than schoolwork or other activities to apathy to a desire to leave the fraternity, but in general didn't like the way the chapter was being run nor where the chapter seemed to be going. As a result, in December the by-laws they had worked so hard to create only a year before were suspended indefinitely, and the entire executive board resigned. A temporary "caucus chairman" and secretary were appointed while the brotherhood got together and discussed whether to simply disband and sell the house, and if not, how to fix what was wrong with the chapter. The decade ended with a lot of soul-searching and hammering together new policies that would hopefully fix the problems that had caused so many members to become discontented.
Other than that, not much is known about the chapter through the 1970's. No formal histories survive, if any were ever written, and the minutes of the general assembly are often difficult to understand, when they exist at all, due to the very brief descriptions of events and almost exclusive use of nicknames when referring to brothers. It was during this time that the tradition of passing the gavel during the general meetings started, so that every brother would have the chance each week to take the floor and speak his mind on whatever topic he wished, rather than limiting the floor to those who had reports to give or who were recognized by the president to speak specifically to whatever official business was on the table. It was also during this time that the tradition of starting meetings with "Hail, Sinfonia" and ending it the "Sinfonian Anthem" ("All Hail Sinfonian Brothers") began. It seems many chapters (including Kappa Sigma before that point) exclusively use the "Hail" to open and close meetings. In 1993, this tradition was changed, replacing the "Sinfonian Anthem" with the "Parting Song," partially as a gesture to promoting more brotherhood during a difficult period. (That song has more mention of what it is to be a brother, whereas the "Sinfonian Anthem" is more of a boisterous, triumphant piece that assumes good relations between brothers.)
As Kappa Sigma grew, however, the local SAI chapter shrank. They had always stressed professionalism over all else, and by the late 80's seemed to be little more than an honor society for the few women music majors on campus. This trend was not helped when Kappa Sigma established a "Little Sis" program early in the decade, which pulled from the same pool of prospective members. By the end of the decade, many of the brothers of Kappa Sigma viewed the SAI chapter in much the same light as the SAI chapter had viewed the fledgling Kappa Sigma at the beginning of its existence.
The 1990's The 1990-91 school year saw the chapter reach its largest size, as the second-largest chapter in the fraternity (after Iota), with 63 active members. It was just at that point when the pendulum began to swing back to professionalism. The brothers who most stressed the social side of the chapter had either already graduated or did so that year, and the younger members were mostly split between those who tended towards the professional side of the chapter, those who were more passive and/or apathetic, and those who would rather goof off than do anything else. Performing and performing well seemed to be of the utmost performance to the first group, and the other two rarely expressed any worthwhile opinions on the matter. This was not a big draw for incoming freshman other than music majors, however, and at that point, the quality of Valpo's music program was suffering--so qualified, interested men got increasingly difficult to come by. Within the span of a few years, the chapter had shrunk to one-third its previous size. The chapter also struggled with internal conflict and severe apathy; volunteers were always few, and at one point actives were requesting expulsion nearly every other week, sending morale to an all-time low. Eventually, a core of committed brothers formed, and the worst of all three camps graduated. Ever since, the chapter has been rebuilding and reestablishing the balancing act on the fine line between their social and professional aspects.
On February 27, 1967, the chapter purchased a house of its own at 810 Brown Street, which was even closer to campus than the Lincolnway house. They moved from Lincolnway to Brown Street in June of that year, and the chapter has remained in that house to this day. In 1981, the mortgage was burned; the house is 100% Kappa Sigma's.
The chapter kept the phone number from the old Lincolnway house when they moved to Brown Street, as well as the running joke of answering the phone with "Hello, [this is] Pikes" (originally started due to the number of phone calls they got at the Lincolnway house from people looking for the previous residents) a joke which was still in occasional use (much to the confusion of whoever was on the other end of the line) up to the early 1990's. As it turns out, the move to Brown Street was the second time the chapter has moved into a house previously used by another Valpo fraternity--in the 1930's, 810 Brown Street was the home of Sigma Delta Chi, a local fraternity that became a chapter of Theta Chi in the 1950's.
The Brown Street house originally housed up to 25 brothers (though most years, there were rarely more than 15 living there). In the late 1980's it was extensively remodeled and two or three bedrooms in the basement were removed, bringing the normal maximum capacity of the house down to 17 residents. The rooms are arranged so that there are five sleeping areas, generally holding 3-5 beds each, each of which has an associated study area either adjoining or elsewhere in the house. (Sometimes the rooms & study areas are split, so that each becomes a sleeping & study area for 1-2 brothers.) The basement has a small TV room, a bar area, and an L-shaped meeting/party area. When Jesters (the main cafeteria on campus, previously known as The Grail) was remodeled, the chapter acquired one of the large, round tables, and then garbage-picked two of the bench seats and one of the rectangular tables.
One instance where the corporation's history warrants separate merit, however, is during the Vietnam War, when Paul Truebenbach, one of the board members, was drafted and so had to resign his position. Ed Eich was appointed to fill out Paul's term. A month later, Ed was drafted. Needless to say, Ed's replacement on the board was quite anxious for a while whenever he opened his mailbox!
The Little Sisters
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