Sigma Chi is one of the oldest and the largest college secret and social Greek letter fraternities in the world with 240 active chapters and over 300,000 initiates. Sigma Chi was honored by the United States Congress for its 150th anniversary on June 13th, 2005, becoming the only Greek letter society so honored.The fraternity was founded on June 28, 1855 in Oxford, Ohio at Miami University when members split from the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The seven founding members of Sigma Chi are Issac M. Jordan, William Lewis Lockwood, Franklin Howard Scobey, James Parks Caldwell, Benjamin Piatt Runkle, Thomas Cowan Bell, and
Daniel William Cooper. Sigma Chi is apart of the Miami Triad, along with Beta Theta Pi and Phi Delta Theta. Sigma Chi's official colors are blue and old gold .The badge is a cross with symbols on each arm, crossed keys on the upper arm, an eagle's head on the right arm, a scroll on the left arm, seven gold stars and a pair of clasped hands on the lower arm and in the center a black background with the Greek letters Sigma (Σ) and Chi(Χ) with two chains connecting the upper arms.
Sigma Chi's purpose is to promote friendship, justice, and learning and to build brotherhood and life long membership among members from all walks of life.
The founding of Sigma Chi, began as the result of a disagreement who would be elected Poet in the Erodelphian Literary Society of old Miami University in Ohio. Several members of Miami University's Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter (only six of Sigma Chi's founders were members) were also members of the Erodelphian Literary Society. In the fall of 1854 this society was to pick its Poet, and a member of DKE was nominated for the position. He was supported by five of his brothers, but four others felt that he lacked the required poetic talent. These men instead chose to give their support to another man who was not a member of the fraternity and by doing so won the support of the last two brothers. The chapter had 12 members and so was evenly divided. Other differences might have been forgotten, but both sides saw this conflict as a matter of principle and over the next few months there came a distancing of their friendship.
The matter came to a head in February 1855, when in an attempt to seal the rift, Runkle and his companions planned a dinner for their brothers. The feast was prepared, and the table was set, but only one of the dissenters, Whitelaw Reid showed up. With him Reid brought a stranger. The six learned that the stranger was an alumnus of DKE from a nearby town. "My name is Minor Millikin; I live in Hamilton", said the man. "I am a man of few words." Reid had told Millikin his side of the dispute, and the two were present to lay down punishment on Runkle, Scobey, and the rest. The leaders of the rebellion (Runkle and Scobey) were to be expelled from the fraternity. The other four, after being chastised, would be allowed to stay a part of the group.
At the announcement of the punishment, Runkle stepped forward. He pulled off his Deke pin, tossed it to the table and said, "I didn't join this fraternity to be anyone's tool! And that sir", addressing Milikin, "is my answer!" Runkle stalked from the room and his five brothers followed. One final chapter meeting was held, at which the chapter was six-to-six divided on the issue of expulsion. The parent chapter at Yale University was contacted, and all six men were formally expelled.
The six men soon associated themselves with William Lewis
Lockwood, a student from New York who had not joined a fraternity Lockwood's natural business acumen helped to organize the fraternity in its early years. On June 28, 1855 (Commencement at Old Miami), the Sigma Phi Fraternity was founded.
The theft of the Constitution, Ritual, Seals, and other records from Lockwood's room in Oxford in January 1856 necessitated the change of the fraternity to Sigma Chi. Eventually, this action could have been forced upon the group as there was already a Sigma Phi Society in the collegiate world.
Much of Sigma Chi's heraldry is inspired by the legendary story of the Emperor Constantine from the Battle of Milvian Bridge against Maxentius. Notably, the White Cross and the motto "In Hoc Signo Vinces" are evidence of the Costantine link. Although many of the symbols of Sigma Chi relate to Christianity, Sigma Chi is not a religious or Christian fraternity.