Along with it’s many locally based social Greek Groups, Augustana is home to three national arts-focused Greek Groups (or honors societies). With their focus in music and theatre, Phi Mu Alpha (PMA), Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), and Alpha Psi Omega (Alpha Psi), Augustana offers students the chance to create brother and sisterhoods based around a passion for the arts, as well as a strong focus on service.
PMA and SAI are both fraternities based around music, although PMA is consisted of male-identifying members, whereas SAI is comprised of female-identifying members. Both groups say that music is truly what unites them.
“[SAI] is a bunch of wonderful ladies who really like music, but also really like service,” says Merjie Gerke, a senior English Education major and current president of SAI.
Greg Goodman, a junior Biology major and current president of PMA, shared similar views for his group, saying that they are a fraternity of music.
“We’re brothers first and the music part of the fraternity is what really unites us, it’s what brings us together,” said Goodman.
Both groups have a strong focus on the fact that while music is what brings their members together, it is not the sole reason for the existence of the groups. Both also have a strong focus on service, which may or may not be tied to music. SAI, PMA, and Alpha Psi all have service hour requirements and multiple fundraisers throughout the year.
“We partner with our national executive board and the fundraisers that they put on,” said Gerke. “We also do little things around the department…like getting together and cleaning the practice rooms and doing joint service projects with ESA (Epsilon Sigma Alpha, a collegiate service group with a chapter at Augustana).”
For PMA, there are also other music tied service events that they put on, such as the Vocal Valentine’s that are popular on campus during the Valentine’s season. One of these, Mill’s Music Missions, is named after the founder of the national organization.
“Each chapter will go on their own time and just stand and sing for people for nothing in return,” said Goodman. “[We recently] did something like that at St. Anthony’s Nursing Home.”
Alpha Psi shares similar themes with SAI and PMA, but their focus is uniting students through the love of theatre.
“Alpha Psi is a co-ed national theatre honors society,” said Joe Oliger, a senior MJMC and theatre arts major, who is the current president of Alpha Psi. “It’s a bunch of people who love theatre and like to hang out in the theatre, do things with shows, plays, theatre.”
Alpha Psi also has a strong focus on service events, with one of their most popular being Running Scared, a cross-campus haunted house. They also pick a local charity every year that they fundraise for.
“When we pick our charity, we then donate all of our funds that we do for events throughout the year to that charity,” said Oliger.
A unique part of all three groups is that they are tied to national organizations. College campuses across the country have their own branches of these groups, meaning that there are connections across the country for members to make.
“Last year, one of my cousins got married in Indiana,” recalled Goodman when discussing the benefits of being a national fraternity. “I was walking across the lobby of this hotel while wearing my letters, and this man walks up to me says ‘Brother!’ and just gives me a big hug.”
For students who may be concerned about whether they are able to join these arts-based groups while also being a member of a social group, all three presidents said it was very manageable and there are currently members in all three organizations involved in both.
Overall, the presidents say that the amount of bonding offered by the groups is what really draws them together. They all share a common connection that truly builds friendships, not just membership in a group. Oliger, who transferred to Augustana after two years, said that Alpha Psi quickly welcomed him both to Augie and to the theatre.
“It seemed like the natural transition to become acclimated,” said Oliger.
All three presidents agreed that it’s amazing to combine a love for the arts with friendship.
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