I attended the California State University at Sacramento (CSUS) from 1984 to 1989, eventually earning a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. College years were filled with a lot of different experiences stuffed into a very short time, especially relative to life growing up in the hills of Ukiah. Like any college student, I had my share of fun and good times and also had a few I'd rather forget. Looking back on those days now, it's easy to see which part of those experiences and those days had the greatest impact on my life. It was not the degree, the College or my courses or professors. It wasn't my girlfriend or my part-time jobs or internships. It was Sigma Chi.
Relatively new at CSUS, the Fraternity was enjoying its third year on campus as it prepared to rush a new class of pledges in the Fall of 1986. I was too shy during rush, not meeting and interacting with as many of the active brothers as I should have. But to my surprise the members still invited me to pledge and on September 10, 1986 I was given my copy of the Norman Shield and my pledge pin, as were the thirteen others in the Epsilon Class of the Theta Xi Chapter of Sigma Chi.
The Fraternity was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time, on a lot of levels. I appreciated the social aspects of the Fraternity to be sure. But I was also personally affected by the lessons that Sigma Chi taught me. Teachings that started with three words scrawled inside the cover of my Norman Shield: "Unity, Initiative and Cooperation." What I learned in the Fraternity continues to have an impact on my life every day.
I participated in the Ritual for the first time on January 23, 1987, when I was initiated into My Fraternity. I served as Magister for Theta pledge class in spring of '88, initiating all 18 men who were invited to pledge.
In the picture above, circa Fall of '88, a group of Sigs has traveled from Sacramento to visit the Presidio in San Francisco where Fraternity Founder Thomas Cowan Bell was laid to rest. Left to right, pictured are John Swain, Glen Likong, Sean Craig, Bob Kjome, Dave Augustus, me, John Wynne and Paul Davis.
On the left, my little brother Jim Cline and I are at Pizza and Pipes after a Chapter Meeting. Either the pizza disagreed with me or I was having girlfriend trouble. Since the pizza was always good (for a $3.99 large pizza, it was great), I'll have to assume the latter!
In 1992 I was back in Sacramento and decided to visit the campus. After walking past the dorms, through campus and hanging around the quad a bit, I went over to the Student Union. The Josten's Ring representative had his wares out for display in the store. After seeing some of the possibilities, I decided to purchase a college ring, or perhaps more appropriately, my Sigma Chi Fraternity Ring. The model I chose (that's my ring pictured on the right) has the Guy West Bridge on its right face with the year I graduated, the Criminal Justice degree on the left, and crowning the ring is the White Cross of Sigma Chi.
In November of 2006 I became a Life Loyal Sig, renewing my support for the organization and its activities. From the Sigma Chi web site:
Life Loyal Sigs are a brotherhood of alumni, young and old who continue to reap the benefits of Sigma Chi membership long after their college years. They include thousands of successful men in many professions, with such notables as David Letterman, Bill Marriott and Mike Ditka. Life Loyal Sigs exemplify the prosperity, achievement, idealism and deep sense of personal responsibility that we all wish for ourselves and our families. A Life Loyal Membership is the best way for members to take part in the enduring spirit and heritage of Sigma Chi.
The Fraternity has created an interactive community area at the web site called "Friendship Circle" where both active and alumni brothers participate. Similar to MySpace, the Friendship Circle helps brothers to connect, keep in touch, and network, both socially and professionally.
Cornerstones of Sigma Chi
The Purpose of the fraternity is "to cultivate and maintain the high ideals of friendship, justice and learning upon which Sigma Chi was founded."
The Jordan Standard
The confidence of the founders of Sigma Chi was based on a belief that the principles which they professed and the ideal of the Fraternity which they sought were but imperfectly realized in the organizations by which they were surrounded.
The standard with which the fraternity started was declared by Isaac M. Jordan to be that of admitting no man to membership in Sigma Chi who is not believed to be:
- A Man of Good Character.......
- A Student of Fair Ability.......
- With Ambitious Purposes.......
- A Congenial Disposition.......
- Possessed of Good Morals.......
- Having a High Sense of Honor and
- A Deep Sense of Personal Responsibility.
The Sigma Chi Creed
I believe in fairness, decency and good manners. I will endeavor to retain the spirit of youth. I will try to make my college, the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and my own chapter more honored by all men and women and more beloved and honestly respected by our own brothers. I say these words in all sincerity; That Sigma Chi has given me favor and distinction; that the bond of our fellowship is reciprocal, that I will endeavor to so build myself and so conduct myself that I will ever be a credit to our Fraternity.
The Spirit of Sigma Chi
The spirit of Sigma Chi, as conceived by the Founders more than 150 years ago yet visible and alive today, is based on the theory that...
- friendship among members, sharing a common belief in an ideal, and possessing different temperaments, talents, and convictions...
- is superior to friendship among members having the same temperaments, talents, and convictions; and that...
- genuine friendship can be maintained without surrendering the principle of individuality or sacrificing one's personal judgment.
I might be forced to admit that there is some similarity between the ideals of Sigma Chi and those other fraternities but I will not share the beautiful and the symbolic supremacy of the White Cross of Sigma Chi with any other badge in the Greek world. The badge of my fraternity is a cross, a sign and a symbol known to all the world, uplifting HIM of whom our badge reminds us.
It is not a shield of timid defense nor a drawn sword of oppressive aggression nor an arrow swift and sure on its mission of death. It is not a diamond so rich and so rare as to have no part in the common crowd nor a crescent pale and incomplete nor a star shining with a borrowed ray. It is not a lamp whose feeble flame is extinguished by the slightest gust of wind that blows; nor a simple monogram of mysterious Greek letters presuming to reveal some hidden meaning.
But a cross with its base planted in the common clay of earth; its arms outstretched to all the world and its head lifted heavenward. It is a White Cross, suggesting purity. As any pure white surface reflects all the rays of light without the absorption of any, so the White Cross of Sigma Chi reflects its ideals unselfishly to all Mankind.
- W. Henry McLean
Sigma Chi Literary Exercises (.pdf)