Founded: December 6, 1845 Re-Chartered: March 29, 1907; December 6, 2000
Alpha Sigma Phi was founded on December 6, 1845 by Louis Manigault, Horace Spangler Weiser, and Steven Ormsby Rhea. The chapter played an increasingly prominent role in the Sophomore Class at Yale, eclipsing its rival, Kappa Sigma Theta in 1857. In the years that followed, the three Junior Class Fraternities, Alpha Delta Phi, Psi Upsilon, and Delta Kappa Epsilon, competed for pledges from Alpha Sigma Phi. The junior class fraternities bid and pledged members throughout the students sophomore year, and announced their elections on "Calcium Light Night." For several years Psi Upsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon took comparatively equal numbers and Alpha Delta Phi a few.
In 1864, when Delta Kappa Epsilon won a majority of the Old Gal's outgoing members, and upset the political balance in the fraternity system. The faculty stepped in and proposed to abolish sophomore societies (i.e. Alpha Sigma Phi). Instead, Psi Upsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon each proposed in turn to sponsor sophomore organizations. With faculty approval and supervision, Phi Theta Psi and Delta Beta Xi were born in 1864. Both of the new sophomore societies claimed to be a legitimate successor of Alpha Sigma Phi. The ritual and secretly initiated members of the Alpha Sigma Phi class of 1864 carried on within Delta Beta Xi, and Alpha continued under this alias until 1876.
In 1876, conduct of the membership on election night, when the actives proceeded in Black Lantern Procession to the rooms of those elected, became "rowdy" due to strong punch served by some of those elected. In response, the faculty banned the existing sophomore societies. Several sub-rosa groups existed in the Sophomore Class until 1902, when the Junior Societies moved their initiations to the beginning of the sophomore year. This move ended the class society system at Yale, leaving national Greek letter fraternities as "junior" societies, and local honorary groups (Skull and Bones, Scroll & Key, and Wolf's Head) as "senior" societies. Separate fraternities still existed for students of Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. Several newer fraternities entered Yale as "University Societies," taking members of all classes from both Yale College and Sheffield Scientific School.
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