Traditions of Beta Sigma Phi
By Tom Gresham
, last updated March 13, 2012
Beta Sigma Phi, the far-reaching non-academic sorority, has developed a number of traditions since its founding in 1931 in Abilene, Kansas. The sorority, which has more than 200,000 members, boasts chapters in 32 countries and in every state in the United States. The Beta Sigma Phi traditions help ensure that the sorority carries a common culture across societies and generations. The sorority's guiding principles are defined by the translation of its Greek letters, which stand for life, learning and leadership.
In order to become a member of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority, you must be invited to join an active chapter. The sorority's chapters run routine rush periods to seek new pledges. The traditional international rush periods are in March and October. Pledges wear pledge pins until they become full members, or sisters, receiving training in the rituals of the sorority during their pledge process. Each new pledge selects an existing member to be her sorority mother, guiding her through the pledge process. Members progress through ranks with experience, journeying from pledge to the degrees of Nu Phi Mu, Ritual of Jewels, Exemplar, Preceptor, Laureate and Master.
Beta Sigma Phi members call each other by their given names. They also wear pins, which non-members are not allowed to wear. The Beta Sigma Phi pin, or badge, is emblematic of the sorority's attachment to tradition. Members are required to wear the pin over the heart on dresses and blouses when attending ritual events or members-only functions. When a member sends another a card to express sympathy, congratulations, gratitude or some other recognition, she includes a yellow rose. When a member announces an engagement or marriage, she brings a box of candy to a chapter event or meeting to share with her sorority sisters.
Days of Celebration
Beta Sigma Phi traditionally celebrates certain dates. These include Mother's Day, chapter anniversaries and Beginning Day, which is August 30 and is used to plan for a new sorority year. The most prominent anniversary, though, is Founder's Day, which celebrates the April 28, 1931, founding of the sorority. On Founder's Day the sorority honors members who have reached important milestones, ranging from the Order of the Yellow Rose, which is for members who have been in the sorority for 15 years, to the Diamond Circle, which is limited to those with 60 years of membership. Each chapter also presents a "Woman of the Year" from its membership roll.
Beta Sigma Phi promotes chapter interactions. For instance, each chapter has a sister chapter, a tradition designed to foster a relationship and to keep members engaged with the sorority on a scale beyond individual chapters. In that same vein, a Beta Sigma Phi chapter will often host a newly founded chapter nearby for a social event or meeting. Each chapter produces a yearbook for all of its members to celebrate the chapter's activities that year.