ASU gay fraternity expands to Indiana University

NATIONAL EXPANSION: Sigma Phi Beta, the gay-straight allied fraternity founded at ASU, will initiate new members at Indiana University, making it the first successful expansion for the fraternity. (Photo by Annie Wechter)

Sigma Phi Beta, a gay fraternity founded at ASU in 2003, is expanding past the University grounds.

The fraternity made strides Saturday by initiating 12 members into its second chapter at Indiana University.

Sam Holdren, assistant communications director of Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity at ASU, said the fraternity is initiating new members to expand its mission of diversity, leadership and brotherhood.

Holdren said there are 23 active members at ASU. One hundred twenty-five members, including alumni, have been initiated in the fraternity over the past seven years, he said.

The purpose of the fraternity is to allow gay, straight, bisexual and transgender students to be comfortable with themselves, be involved with the community and be successful academically.

“We want the Indiana members to be successful,” Holdren said. “We would like them to recruit members and teach them the history, mission and values of a fraternity.”

ASU and Indiana University are currently the only universities to be a part of this fraternity, but the members are looking into other universities for expansion.

According to a Nov. 10 Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity press release, Indiana University is “home of the oldest and largest fraternity system.”

Holdren said that the fraternity decided to build and strengthen its one chapter at ASU and reach out to other campuses.  He said that the members decided that they wanted to work with Indiana because there were committed students there.

Holdren said Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity’s alumni continue to grow and can help spread awareness of the fraternity to different universities around the country.

“We want to empower gay students and allow them to find brotherhood life in a space that allows them to be themselves,” Holdren said.

Nathan Arrowsmith, the fraternity’s national president, said he joined Sigma Phi Beta in fall 2003 at ASU. He also said the fraternity would like to help the Indiana University members develop leadership skills and to help them be successful in their future endeavors.

In addition, he said that Sigma Phi Beta tries to offer the traditional Greek fraternity experience.

“A key aspect of Sigma Phi Beta is that you can really be accepted and be yourself,” Arrowsmith said. “You can grow as a leader and grow as an individual.”

Joshua Thomas, one of the founders of Sigma Phi Beta at Indiana University, said IU students contacted ASU and showed interest in their fraternity last year. He said members in the fraternity are associated with building character in college and helping the community.

Thomas said that fraternity members want people to know that they are offering a safe place on the campus for queer and ally students. He said that being a part of the fraternity was one of the best decisions that he ever made.

“The best part of our fraternity is that we don’t judge and we get to know the person,” Thomas said. “We tell our members that it’s okay to be gay and be yourself.”

Reach the reporter at khillhou@asu.edu