The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Sigma Nu plans for winter 2025 return

The fraternity hopes to expand on its long history at Washington and Lee
SNU has a long history at W&L and evidence of the fraternity can be found on campus. Photo by Aiden Kelsey, ’27

Editor’s note: This story was updated March 12 to clarify Sigma Nu’s racial integration history.

The Sigma Nu fraternity, a long-standing Washington and Lee tradition, plans to return to campus in the 2024-25 school year.

Sigma Nu’s Lambda chapter, first established at the university in 1882, plans to be back on campus next winter after a five-year dormancy period. The reintroduction will represent the return of a “Lexington original,” said Jack Wright, ’19, president of the Sigma Nu Housing Corporation for W&L.

The fraternity was first established at the neighboring Virginia Military Institute in 1868, according to the Sigma Nu website. It arrived at W&L 14 years later.

By 2020, no new members had pledged Sigma Nu, according to previous reporting by the Ring-tum Phi.

While operating, the fraternity, colloquially known as “SNU,” produced two university presidents, as well as Rupert Johnson, the namesake of W&L’s full-ride academic scholarship.

In the 1980s, Sigma Nu became Washington and Lee’s first secular social fraternity to racially integrate. It also led a widespread restructuring of the campus’s Greek Life system in the 1990s, Wright said. Wright cited that extensive history in explaining the significance of the chapter’s return.

Sigma Nu “is not just another fraternity,” said Wright. It’s focused on “student development.” Fred Dobry, director of health and safety at Sigma Nu’s national office, agreed. Dobry stressed the chapter’s “rich history at W&L” and its strong correlation to university values with its foundation of “love, honor and truth.”

The fraternity has already started its outreach to potential members, said Dobry.

On Feb. 15, unaffiliated male freshmen and sophomores received an email from the Interfraternity Council (IFC) providing information on the Lambda chapter’s return. An attached survey gave interested individuals the opportunity to get in touch with Sigma Nu directly.

Dobry said he was “very happy with the initial response.” Though he didn’t cite specific numbers, he claimed that interest from the university community was “very strong.”

The high level of interest could be due to the recent dwindling of fraternities on campus, Wright said. He said he was disappointed in the small number of Greek organizations remaining and stressed the importance of these groups in strengthening character and building connections.

Joining Sigma Nu is “not paying to have friends,” said Wright. Instead, it is committing to personal development and affiliating with a strong base of alumni support.

The Lambda chapter plans to formally make its return during Winter Term in 2025, when it will induct a new pledge class during the formal rush window. Until then, its efforts will be focused on member recruitment, Wright said.

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