By Jamie Breedlove
When you hear the words sorority girls, what comes to mind? Are you thinking about all those crazy girls from movies and television shows? The Fitchburg State College Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority members are actively working to change these stereotypes and replace them with a more positive image.
“I joined a sorority originally for the community service aspect, but I quickly learned that there is so much more, including a strong sisterhood,” said Tri Sigma member Kate Rouleau. “There is always someone there for you and having such close friends they can teach you positive skills like organization, time management and business skills.”
Fitchburg’s chapter of Tri Sigma was established in 1995 and currently has about 35 members, according to member Stephanie Kennett. Across the U.S., the sorority has about 90,000 members on 110 college campuses.
Despite this wide acceptance, Kennett said she was nervous about joining in the beginning. “I didn’t really want to join a sorority,” she said. “But at Rock the Block last year I got pinned with a clothespin and I figured ‘Hey, why not give it a shot?’” Of course I was nervous and I had to take someone for support because I couldn’t go alone. So I brought one of my suitemates.”
Rouleau added, “Sigma just fit me. It’s kind of hard to put into words, but I just fell in love with the girls.”
There is no hazing, members said, and no one is forced to do anything that would make them uncomfortable. They are also encouraged to take part in studying hours in the library, because they must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.
The sisters of Tri Sigma work hard to give themselves a positive image on campus and in the surrounding communities. “Our national philanthropy is the Robbie Paige Memorial fund,” Kennett said. “We raise money for play therapy for hospitalized or seriously ill children. Our local philanthropy is breast cancer, and we do a benefit walk in Boston for it every year. We also have an annual Teetor-Totter-athon where we get this huge teetor-totter and teetor for 40 hours straight to raise money for our philanthropies and many other small fundraisers throughout the year.”
Fitchburg State College also has two other sororities on campus, Phi Sigma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Tau. When Kennett spoke about chosing Tri Sigma over the other two, she said, “I just felt a click with them. When you’re with these women something just comes over you and you know that you belong here with everyone.”
Rouleau believes Tri Sigma is unique because of its diverse and active group of members. “I think Sigma stands out because our members are not only part of the Sigma sorority, but also part of many other clubs on campus,” Rouleau said. “We have FAB [Fitchburg Activities Board] members, LASO [Latin American Student Organization] and BSU [Black Student Union], dance teachers and dance-club members and many other club and organization members. Our girls are very active on campus.”
Some Sigma Sigma Sigma members travel to the national convention that takes place once a year. They follow their motto, “Faithful unto Death,” and are proud to wear their letters and display their royal purple and white colors wherever they go.
They are also aware that they’re part of a proud tradition that dates back to April 20, 1898, when the sorority was founded at Longwood College in Farmville, Va. by eight women who were best friends. They were in search of the things many students still are today: friendship, leadership opportunities, involvement on campus and support for life and their future after school.
The qualities they valued are still applicable to the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority members of today, as represented by the members at Fitchburg State College.