ECU chapter of Phi Sigma Pi receives organization’s highest award
ECU’s oldest fraternal organization on campus received the Joseph Torchia Outstanding Chapter Award at the Phi Sigma Pi national convention in Charlotte. The award is the highest honor that a Phi Sigma Pi chapter can receive, with ECU being just one of two chapters across the country to receive the recognition.
“We were excited,” said Ben Brammer, the 2023-24 president of ECU’s chapter. “Our president last year, Nitika Jane, and the president before her, Austin Brown, were there, so having three presidents there for the award was neat, and we had a couple of other members there as well. It was good to be acknowledged for the work that we had done.”
That work included service projects such as Easter egg hunts for the children of ECU staff and faculty members at the home of Chancellor Philip Rogers, an Easter egg hunt for students at the ECU Community School, a dinner for Greenville firefighters and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Catwalk in which participants wore clothing that represented their heritage.
“The award was nice to get recognition, but it’s not the reason we do these events,” Brammer said. “… Being able to do the Easter egg hunt at the community school felt really important to all of us. It’s close to us. A lot of us drive past that school on the way to classes or to our meetings, so being able to actually do something for the kids there felt really nice.”
Dr. David Batts, associate professor in the Department of Technology Systems and the Tau chapter faculty advisor since 1997, said the ECU chapter began in 1936.
“It’s built on three legs — fellowship, leadership and scholarship — but under those guises is that we are a service organization,” he said. “We have six or seven events each semester that we do.”
One such event this semester is a Gift of Life bone marrow donor registration drive planned for October. Brammer said such service projects are what drew him to Phi Sigma Pi.
“I looked into the fraternity and I went to their interest meetings, and I found out that it was a fraternity in name, but it’s based more on scholarship and service than it is on being a social fraternity. That interested me,” Brammer said.
Admission is open to students in any major and is by invitation. One of the requirements is a minimum 3.2 GPA in 30 or more credit hours or a minimum 3.5 GPA in 12 to 29 credit hours. An initiation process includes organization of a service project.
Beyond service, members enjoy social events such as barbecues and ECU football tailgates.
“You have the top scholars at ECU doing service and social events, so you have the best of all worlds,” Batts said.
Brammer, a junior from Huntersville, is a fine arts major with a concentration in film and video production. He said Phi Sigma Pi gave him exactly what he was looking for at ECU.
“If anybody is looking for a way to feel involved on campus and in the community, or if they’re looking for a way to learn how to become involved — Phi Sigma Pi has given me that opportunity and so many of our members that opportunity,” Brammer said.
He was quick to credit Brown, Jane, service chair Aiden Charles, DEI chair Kaleigh Adams, last year’s vice president Ama Takyi Annan and this year’s vice president Lizzie Ackerman for helping bring the award home to ECU.
“There are a lot of factors that go into it, but one is how well your events embody what our fraternity stands for,” Brammer said. “So, events like our DEI Catwalk — a lot of chapters don’t even have a DEI committee — but that was a big event for us. Having the Easter egg hunts, they recognized that these were a great way to serve our community and a great way of putting our name out there as well.”
ECU’s chapter has received a Torchia award 35 times in its 87-year history, a history filled with those who have gone on to be U.S. senators like Robert Morgan or Board of Trustees members like Phil Dixon. Dr. Richard Todd, ECU history professor and the namesake of Todd Dining Hall, was also a member, and former chancellor Leo Jenkins was an honorary member.
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of great people who have been a part of it,” Batts said.