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The "White Clause"


In 1870 Sigma Chi added what is known as the “White Clause” into their constitution not knowing the many conflicts it would cause. It stated that any man initiated into the Fraternity had to be “white”. The Omicron Omicron Chapter from the University of Chicago, as well as many others, disagreed with the Fraternity’s policy on the selection of its undergraduate members and went as far as giving up its charter in disapproval.

The constitution did not see any revisions regarding membership standards until 1961 when the word “white” was struck from its pages. Though this single word was deleted from the legislation, other procedures were put in place continuing the prevention of initiating non-white men. The laws would only change if there were an approval of 90 percent of the undergraduate and alumni chapter delegates at Grand Chapter.

In 1969 Grand Consul Floyd R. Baker appointed a Planning Commission to determine the issue at hand.  The Commission was unsuccessful until Norman Brewer was elected to Grand Consul.  He appointed 15 members to the board. They met on three different occasions and spent many hours discussing the history of membership selection, the Constitution and Statutes, the current amendments made to the constitution, some problems at certain campuses, and resolutions that were offered and debated about by the 57th Grand Chapter. The board stated in their report that many amendments were offered in the 57th Grand Chapter, but none were approved by 90 percent of the delegates.  They did not believe that the “90 percent rule” would be sufficient for the future.

Based on the information gained from the Planning Commission board, the Executive Committee agreed that the personal information of an initiate into any chapter should not be distributed. By January of 1970 the Executive Committee established that Grand Council members in exception of each Grand Praetor would know nothing of any pledges, therefore unable to disapprove of that individual for any reason. Executive Committee members were still required to approve any potential member, but agreed to do so primarily based on the criteria of The Jordan Standard. That next year the first black member was initiated into the Gamma Pi Chapter at the University of Rochester, New York.

SIG HISTORY
SIG HISTORIANS

A NORTHERN CONFEDERATE AT JOHNSON'S ISLAND PRISON: The Civil War Diaries of James Parks Caldwell
George H. Jones
51st Grand Consul

McFarland & Co., 2010.


Sigma Chi Founder, Caldwell fought for the Confederacy and spent 18 months in the Union's Johnson's Island prison. While there he kept a diary on prison conditions, the politics of the day, and his personal interests.

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