Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Greek life offers home to student musicians

Giang Do
Potential members socialize with each other at the Phi Mu Alpha’s Informal Recruitment event in Bergendoff on Feb. 13.

While hundreds of students have been loaded up on buses to meet Augustana’s social sororities and fraternities, a quieter rushing season is also coming to a close. These two groups, Phi Mu Alpha (PMA) and Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), focus on catering to students interested in the musical arts and seek to help people find fulfillment and joy through music.

Phi Mu Alpha, a national music and service fraternity founded in 1898 and brought to Augustana in 1970, is a fraternal organization open to the men of Augustana campus. The group values brotherhood and they are brought together by a love of music and theater, as well as working in the community. 

A few of the different activities that they are involved with on and off campus include activities with the other branches of the Phi Mu Alpha chapter in Iowa, volunteering at nursing homes to sing and one of their most well-known and popular Augustana traditions: Vocal Valentines. 

Vocal Valentines, given out on Valentine’s Day, have just started to make a comeback after the pandemic, and were restarted this year at Augustana with many of the Phi Mu Alpha members participating in going around to sing in different classrooms for students. 

Sophomore Ethan Gabrys, education officer for Phi Mu Alpha, said the event was a big hit and many staff members and students alike were pleased to see the tradition return to the campus.

“We have actually received so much positive feedback from professors,” Gabrys said. “Specifically about how important they think this is and how it brings a bit more joy to this holiday especially since not everyone has someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with.”

Augustana’s second musical Greek group is Sigma Alpha Iota. Founded in 1903 at the University of Michigan, Sigma Alpha Iota is a group open to women and non-male identifying individuals that strive to empower people in their musical endeavors. 

Junior Katie Sanders, vice president of membership in Sigma Alpha Iota, said that the group is thrilled to be working to build up the community through music. 

“Whether it is just community service or specifically within music,we’re big on empowering people in music and music careers, as well as encouraging services,” Sanders said.

Some projects SAI works with include Christmas at Augustana, faculty recitals and youth music competitions hosted at Augustana. Additionally, the group does fundraisers to support different organizations in the Quad Cities that aid women. This year, they plan to use proceeds they’ve collected from Christmas at Augustana to make blankets to donate to a local women’s shelter.

Both organizations recruit and rush differently than other social chapters at Augustana, hosting a fall and spring rush throughout the academic year. PMA held their spring informal this year on Feb. 13 and their formal will take place on Feb. 23, while SAI has hosted two informals, one on Feb. 10 and the other on Feb. 17. 

The process to be accepted is generally more relaxed than a typical rush for a fraternity or sorority, including only one informal event and/or formal event that potential new members must attend before the existing members vote on their acceptance to the chapters. 

Junior Andy Frieden, vice president and alumni relations committee chair of Phi Mu Alpha, said that having both a fall and spring rush period is one of the many benefits to the chapters.

“It’s very relaxed compared to the intensity people would typically describe of the Greek life rush,” Frieden said. “Being able to recruit every semester is one of the things that sets us apart from the other parts of Greek life.”

The requirements for both groups are also simpler than most other chapters. Phi Mu Alpha requires only that anyone interested in the group identify as male and have a love of music, while Sigma Alpha Iota requires a certain GPA and participation in one of the many musical ensembles on campus.

Sophomore Michael Steinbecker, wellness advisor of Phi Mu Alpha, said that the groups are the perfect place to find friends and learn to love music.

“I was a non-music player when I pledged,” Steinbecker said. “We’re super friendly people, and even if you’re not a part of the musical groups on campus, you can still come hang out. Come say hi.”


Ethan Gabrys formerly worked for the Observer.

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