Sigma Nu May the Force Be With You!

Sigma Nu became a Greek-letter organization on January 1, 1869. It was founded at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia by three young men who were opposed to the hazing that was a part of a cadet’s life at VMI. James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James McIlvaine Riley formed the “Legion of Honor” to abolish the hazing that was rampant on campus. The three first met on an October night and pledged to form a brotherhood based on honor. From that moonlit night in October to the end of 1868, the organization was kept a secret. On the first day of 1869, Sigma Nu made its debut on the campus.


Sigma Nu is part of the Lexington Triad, the three men’s fraternities founded in Lexington, Virginia. Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu were founded at Virginia Military Institute, in 1865 and 1869, respectively. Kappa Alpha Order was founded at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) which is literally next door to VMI. Until the early 1900s, fraternities were part of VMI campus life. When Sigma Nu was founded, there were two other fraternities on campus – ATO and Kappa Alpha Order. Beta Theta Pi followed in 1869. Other fraternities that established chapters at VMI are Kappa Sigma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Phi Epsilon. Lexington is the home of the headquarters of both Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Nu. A plaque in Lexington honors the founding of the Lexington Triad.

lex triad

A Sigma Nu who has been on the big screen this holiday season is Harrison Ford, a member of the Sigma Nu chapter at Ripon College. He stars in a movie that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and seems to have been seen by every one I know.

Harrison Ford at Ripon College (Courtesy of Ripon College)

Harrison Ford at Ripon College (Courtesy of Ripon College)


Happy 2016 to the followers of this blog! Thanks for your support.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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