Epsilon Sigma Chapter was founded at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia on October 23, 1976
1,528 initiates (as of June 2018)
Chartered in 1819 by the General Assembly under the sponsorship of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia still bears the imprint of its founder. Jefferson designed the buildings and campus, gathered the faculty and shaped the organization. The university was the most liberal institution of learning of its time, with curriculum totally elective, no religious tests of practices, faculty all equals, and students under the honor system. Many of the ideas of administration and curriculum that dominate American universities today were anticipated by Jefferson.
The university opened to instruction in 1825, in the beautiful and traditional setting of Charlottesville with grounds occupying more than 1,500 acres of historical interest in Blue Ridge Mountain country. The Rotunda and its attached colonnades of student rooms interspersed with Federal style two-storied “pavilions” housing administrative officials front on the “lawn” and form the central focus of the campus. Small public gardens behind the residences, separated by serpentine brick walls and an outer row of student rooms on the “range” complete the setting.
Epsilon Sigma was installed on October 23, 1976, when 43 new members were initiated at the University of Virginia.
The installation headquarters for the weekend was the Boar’s Head Inn, Ednam Forest, Charlottesville, and it was a gracious old Virginia setting providing rooms and dining facilities. Friday evening service was held at the beautiful home of an alumna, with a large living room and double fireplaces. Following the service, the Charlottesville alumnae gave an informal reception serving coffee, punch and cookies to all attending (about 120). This was the first chance that many had to make friends with the new members and to meet the actives and alumnae attending and assisting with the weekend events.
The Westminister Presbyterian Church offered perfect accommodations on Saturday for Installation. Installing officers were Jean Hess Wells, Georgia, Fraternity President; Jane Lindsay Koke, Denison, Treasurer and Sally Moore Nitschke, Ohio State, Director of Membership.
The reception before Saturday evening’s banquet was held around an open fire at one end of the large banquet hall of Boar’s Head Inn, which easily accommodated the 158 guests attending. Flowers and candlelight gave a special atmosphere to the evening. Banquet chairman. Dale Brubeck, William & Mary, was a dynamic speaker for the evening; The William & Mary President offered a toast to the new chapter, and the Epsilon Sigma President responded. The President of the Charlottesville Alumnae greeted all with enthusiastic welcome. An award badge formerly belonging to an alumna was presented to the Fraternity President for presentation to the new chapter’s President.
A formal reception was held on a rainy Sunday afternoon at the old Alumni Hall on campus. With fire in the fireplace, the new Epsilon Sigmas and Fraternity officers met campus officials, Greek representatives, friends of the chapter, and many parents who had traveled from as far away as Connecticut to add their welcome to their daughter’s new chapter. Approximately 250 people attended. A model chapter meeting followed by a formal pledging ceremony for 10 new members completed the festivities.
Other notable Kappas attending this important weekend for Lambda Province included Fran Alexander, DePauw, former Fraternity President; former Province Directors Ann Harter, Syracuse; Jesse Kirk, North Dakota State; Ellen Lawther, Maryland; Louise Wise, Illinois; Martha Flatt, Cincinnati; Polly Beall, George Washington; Field Secretaries Mary Flo Squires (Ridley), SMU, and Jan Harenberg (Stockhoff), New Mexico; Editor of The Key, Diane Selby, Ohio State; and Director of Communication for Fraternity Headquarters, Jean Elin, Ohio State.
Student population at the time of Epsilon Sigma’s founding was more than 14,000 with teacher population around 1,500. Prior to 1970, female students were admitted only at the graduate and professional level. By 1974, 41 percent of the student population was female. These women were entering a strong fraternity system, with 35 chartered fraternities. As the enrollment of women increased, the desire among women to form their own Greek-letter groups grew. National Panhellenic Conference groups already on campus in 1976 included Zeta Tau Alpha, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta and Kappa Alpha Theta. Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was the fifth national women’s fraternity to be installed at the University of Virginia.
Sorority life was not, however, new to Epsilon Sigma. By the time of Installation, the members had already existed as a group for a year and a half. The university required that any sorority or fraternity must exist for a year as a local before it could petition a national. In April of 1975, seven young women had formed the local sorority Kappa Gamma, with the obvious intent of petitioning Kappa Kappa Gamma for a charter at the end of our year as a local.
During this year and a half, the Kappa Gammas set traditions, planned community service projects and joined in campus activities including a clothing drive for a mental hospital and participation in the first Sigma Chi Derby Days. The group participated strongly in the InterSorority Council, helping to coordinate and execute the first formal rush on campus. Kappa Gammas were on the university field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams, worked on both of the university newspapers, and, at the time of Installation, Kappa Gamma led the sorority powder-puff football league, holding the record for most points scored in a single game!
Until mid-October 1975, the local group concentrated its efforts on increasing membership. By that time, the number had increased to 19. At Christmas time, they held a formal sit-down dinner, which they prepared themselves. For many of the men there, it was the first sorority party they had ever attended, and most were genuinely impressed. This event became an annual tradition, although as they grew in number, they were no longer able to do the cooking themselves.
The Kappa Gammas also began several other traditions including the “Outstanding Kappa” award—a silver bowl that was given by the seven original founders of the local group as an installation gift. Another tradition is that each chapter President leaves something in the house after her term of office.
Installation week was more than just joining Kappa Kappa Gamma for these new members—it was the culmination of a year’s work and a year’s wait. Helping to introduce Epsilon Sigma to the Fraternity was William & Mary, the Big Sister Chapter. Other Kappas came from the following chapters: Maryland, North Carolina, George Washington, and Tennessee. The alumnae associations from Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke, Baltimore, and Suburban Maryland were present as well. Each group gave a warm welcome and the love to the newest members of Kappa.
Kappa Kappa Gamma happily established Epsilon Sigma Chapter with a sense of historic celebration in the year of the American Bicentennial!
Our greatest source of pride for Epsilon Sigma in 1985 was our involvement in the initiation of the charter members of Zeta Mu chapter at Virginia Tech. Almost half of our chapter became big sisters for the charter members. We are also proud of our campus and community activities and the fact that we had the second highest grade point average of the 16 sororities on campus. By the mid-80s we had 85 active sisters. Epsilon Sigma was one of three chapters receiving a Rehabilitation Grant from the Fraternity, which went to support the Charlottesville Rape Crisis Group.
We attended Province Meeting in Morgantown, WV in the spring of 1987 bringing home a revitalized knowledge of ritual and renewed interest in the national Fraternity. Some of our members attended the installation and initiation of the Zeta Omicron chapter at the University of Richmond, serving as big sisters to the charter members. At the Biennial Convention in Boca Raton, Florida, we received Honorable Mention in chapter finance and a silver Revere bowl in honor of the chapter with the best Cultural Program.
In support of new alcohol awareness programs, a new service at UVA was started in 1988 called “Sorority Formal Swap.” Two sororities are paired to work at each other's formal to insure there is no drinking and driving. It was a huge success.
We have members involved in many campus activities such as Honor Educators, Honor Advisers, University Guides, Madison House Volunteers, theater productions, newspaper staff, intramural sports and more. A challenge to increase participation was met with delegation, so everyone felt as though they had an important Kappa job, plus forming three teams, the owls, the keys, the fleur-di-lis getting points for your team each time you participated in a Kappa activity.
We participate Annual Phone-A-Thons making calls to alumni around the country to solicit donations for the University. We also presented our portion of a grant awarded by the Fraternity last spring following our proposal to benefit the Charlottesville Rape and Crisis Group. We sponsor a needy child from Brazil by raising funds through a Balloon Day. We now have a wonderful new house mother and through her efforts and those of the chapter we won the ISC's Clean House of the Month Award. We achieved our goal of “Renewed Respect” working on ritual respect, established the thought of the week to increase respect among the sisters, and pairing new ideas and respect for the old ideas to achieve this goal.
In 1988-89 one of our members, who is also Inter Sorority Council President, was selected as the most outstanding Greek woman, a coveted award at UVA. We raised more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society with a two-night fundraiser, Kappa for Cancer. We continue to work with the Barrett Day Care Center, a non-profit center for underprivileged children. Our lasagna dinner raised funds to continue to support our child in Brazil as well as the American Heart Association.
One of the most exciting things our chapter did as the decade comes to a close was the involvement in the initiation and installation of the charter members of Zeta Tau chapter at Washington and Lee. Our chapter was chosen to be their big sister chapter. In addition to becoming more involved in the community and campus life, we have become more involved with other sororities with exchange dinners and with fraternities with mixers, allowing us to get to know a lot of new people. We hosted a Mardi Gras dinner to raise funds for the child we sponsor through the Christian Children's Fund, held four parties at the Barrett Day Care Center. We also played bingo at a nursing home and painted cartoon characters on the walls of the Kluge Rehabilitation Center.
The chapter house is located at 503 Rugby Road, nicknamed The Kappa Palace.
The Billy Hill Race, an annual relay race in Charlottesville to benefit the National Heart Association, a Yard Sale to benefit the Billy Hill Race, Annual Phone-a-Thons to raise funds for the University, sponsoring a foreign child, Kappa for Cancer fundraiser, and participating in other groups' philanthropies.
Chapter Convention Awards:
1988: At the Biennial Convention in Boca Raton, Fla., we received honorable mention in Finance and won a silver Revere bowl in recognition for the best Cultural Program.
The year 1990 began with the pledging of 36 new members and our involvement on campus grew every year. We are represented in all aspects of life at UVA; sports, Madison House, University Guides, Honor Advisers, Honor Educators, etc.
Our GPA increased from 3.2 in 1990 to 3.27 in 1991, with more than one third of our girls with a GPA of 3.4 or above. We regularly further the Greek system interaction by participating in exchange dinners with other sororities. At Convention in 1994 we received first place for our Cultural Program, and honorable mention for Excellence and Membership Selection.
At Convention is Dallas in 1990, our president accepted awards for Epsilon Sigma, honorable mentions for service and philanthropies. We have seven girls from the Junior class who received Intermediate Honors for having a 3.4 or better GPA. We have started a “Best Buddies” program that connects a volunteer with a mentally or physically handicapped adult. Our alumnae have been active with us, sponsoring a Belgian Waffle Breakfast at the house, attending an area barbecue we held for their families, celebrating the 120th anniversary of Kappa with us at Founders Day.
We hosted our Fraternity President, Kay Larson, at a University-wide event called Collaboration Virginia. All Greek organizations and their national representatives met with administration and alumni, generating many ideas to strengthen Greek organizations. We held a desert party for Mrs. Larson, followed by a candlelight tour of campus. At Province Meeting we won the Philanthropy award and second place for Scholarship. In addition to service, we excelled in athletics, winning the intramural championship for lacrosse and field hockey.
A new and extremely rewarding project in 1991 was adopting a family of 11 for Christmas. We divided into groups, with each group responsible for providing gifts and necessities for each child and their grandmother. We plan to make this a tradition.
In 1993 our formal living room was redecorated by the House Board to bring us into the 1990's. Despite one of the coldest and longest winters in Charlottesville in years, we had a successful Rush. Icy weather caused us to cancel a round, but we welcomed 37 new Kappas. We enjoyed a mixer with a new sorority on campus, Gamma Phi Beta.
At Convention in Atlanta in 1994 we won three awards: The Cultural Award, honorable mention for Excellence in Membership Selection, and recognition to the Founders Circle for completing at least 90% of the Challenge to Excellence. In 1995, after a successful Spring rush which welcomed 32 new members,we faced the experience of Fall rush, a new and positive move for UVA sororities. We welcomed another 29 pledges. Both 1995 pledge classes began their Kappa journey with second, third and fourth year “buddy” weeks prior to Big Sister week, which allowed the entire chapter to interact. We participated in Sigma Chi Derby Days which raised funds for the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center and the Children's Miracle Network. We continued our efforts with Barrett Day Care Center with Easter and Halloween events and raised money for Hands Against Hunger at Christmas.
Our sisters are involved almost every organization on campus and volunteering is a major aspect of Kappa life. Always very involved in academics with many sisters receiving high honors, during the 1997-98 year one of our seniors was chosen to live on the Lawn, one of UVA's highest honors. For the first time in three years we held a Spring Rush welcoming 31 new members. We had one of the best parent's weekends with dinner and dancing at the Boar's Head Inn, a tailgate at the UVA/Duke game, golf for the Dads, making it a huge success. At Christmas we had an “Angel Tree” to benefit underprivileged Chrlottesville children.
In November 1998 we put on our first annual Kappa for Cancer flag football tournament, with students competing against each other in a day full of different flag football games. The money earned went to the American Cancer Society. We continue our annual Halloween and Easter parties with children at the Barrett Day Care Center. Again we had an “Angel Tree” at Christmas and another dinner-dance at the Boar's Head Inn and tailgate before the UVA/UNC game for Parent's Weekend. Spring Rush brought us 24 new sisters who were wowed with our performance of “Annie” which was a huge hit. Our preference party was held in the Dome Room of the Rotunda with a very inspiring ceremony.
In 1999 we held our 2nd annual Flag Football tournament, Kappa for Cancer and volunteered at a Haunted House downtown on Halloween, where Kappas dressed up and painted faces and handed out goodies to local children. One of our sisters ran in the Chicago Marathon. We again supported “Angel Tree” at Christmas in conjunction with the Salvation Army. Parent's Weekend was a success held again at the Boar's Head Inn and a tailgate before the UVA/Duke game. Speakers came to educate the chapter on AIDS and STD awareness, sexual assault, alcohol and drug awareness and self-defense.
1990: At Convention is Dallas, our president accepted awards for honorable mentions for service and philanthropies; 1994: At Convention in Atlanta we won three awards: The Cultural Award, honorable mention for Excellence in Membership Selection, and recognition to the Founders Circle for completing at least 90% of the Challenge to Excellence.
In Feb. 2005 we were recognized as raising the most money for Dance Marathon. Our Kappa Kicks Cancer philanthropy is one of our most successful, this year donating to the American Cancer Society division in New Orleans. Several of our members are from New Orleans so that makes this special.
We continue to work on our Chapter Action Plan and implement the items on our focus letter, by updating our ByLaws and working on our ritual, attendance, etc. Our ISC representative has been a part of a campus discussion on transferring to Panhellenic.
A Founders Day celebration was held Nov. 5 , 2006 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Epsilon Sigma with a special brunch attended by many alumnae and founding members. As part of our Action Plan to educate members, the Archives in a Box from Headquarters was on display for a week. In the Fall we welcomed two transfers from Eta and Beta Delta chapters in Wisconsin and Michigan.
In 2009 we welcomed 38 new members and proudly met the terms of our focus letter. We had two visits from the Leadership Consultant in the Spring and again in the Fall who helped us improve our chapter. We worked closely with ISC and IFC to improve our alcohol policies and met our risk management standards. Twelve of our members took part in the 3-day Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk in Washington, D.C., wearing Kappa t-shirts and raised $30,000.
At the end of 2009, our seniors won the Greek Giving Campaign with all members pledging to donate money to the University. In the Fall members enjoyed a day of apple-picking on nearby Carter Mountain, and our Parent's Weekend formal at Boar's Head Inn was a success. Our flag football philanthropy, Kappa Kickoff, raised more than $3,000 which was donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in support of the sisters who participated in the 3-day walk.
This year was a very busy year for Epsilon Sigma. We started off the year with a very successful recruitment. In January 2011, we gladly welcome 36 new Kappas to our chapter. Two months later, half of our Chapter Council attended the Lambda Province meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was an extremely successful and mind opening experience for the officers that went. March was also a month for Sigma Chi Derby Days to benefit Children's Miracle Network. Kappa Kappa Gamma won the competition in 2011 and co-signed the donation check.
April was a big month for Epsilon Sigma filled with initiation, philanthropy, and family. There were several ritual practices to ensure a wonderful initiation for the new members. Later that month, we co-hosted 'Tug for the Town' with Beta Theta Pi. Together, we raised $1,700 and split the donations between Reading is Fundamental and the Charlottesville Free Clinic. Tug for the Town was a major success with over 50 teams from both greek and non-greek student groups.
Epsilon Sigma also hosted a Dad's weekend for the dads to come enjoy a weekend of quality time with their daughters. Wrapping up the academic year, we said our farewells to our graduating seniors and encouraged them to register as a Kappa alumna. Starting off a new school year, we jumped right into philanthropy! The chapter raised a total of $28,000 from two major events. Ten chapter members participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, 60 Mile walk for the cure in Washington DC. The next week, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma hosted an annual flag football tournament called Kappa Kickoff. The proceeds from the event were also donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The week between these two events, Brianne, a leadership consultant, visited our chapter. She was able to give us several tips of advice, which we are continuing to use into 2012. As the semester began to wrap up, Kappa elections took place. Elections went very smoothly and officer transitions took place throughout a period of two weeks between elections and exams.
Campus: The Inter-Sorority Council made several changes to recruitment, bid day, hazing policies, and big sis week activities. The ISC made all of these changes to reinforce the safety of chapter members. Epsilon Sigma then reinforced these ideas with a positive nature so that the new members felt welcomed.
Chapter: Our chapter has always brought together girls who enjoy spending time together and we have never had an issue with sisterhood. This year we worked to reinforce the other aspects of Kappa Kappa Gamma that are so important to our success as a chapter and as individuals. We worked to improve our relations at UVA and nationally with Kappas by improving communication and participation in many different areas. In addition, we completed much more in depth and challenging philanthropy events so that every member felt a responsibility to not only help each other but also help a much greater cause We have worked to show how important Kappa Kappa Gamma as a national sorority is and how it can be beneficial to each of us both now and in our futures. There were several Kappa Foundation presentations to encourage giving back to Kappa. In addition to all of this, the Chapter's academic standing improved from 12th to 2nd within the Inter-Sorority Council. The Greek System also has a higher GPA than the rest of the University community.
For the past few years, Epsilon Sigma has been on focus letter. The Leadership Consultants in Fall 2010 and Fall 2011 gave us several points to consider for improvement. Since one of our biggest challenges was ritual, we made major strides to improve ritual by holding ritual practices. These practices helped us to more accurately perform the ceremonies around initiation and formal chapter. After the province meeting and LC visits, we learned that we were also handling the "Big/Little Sisters" incorrectly. In the past, the Big picked her Little on bid-morning. However, in the fall of 2011 the chapter decided to implement mutual selection. The final major challenge that the chapter had was trying to increase the motivation of the chapter. Over the past year, the internal morale of our chapter has dramatically improved. Among public relations, the province meeting, and the philanthropy presentation of the Kappa Foundation, our chapter has made considerable improvements. Our chapter has also gained a better understanding of Kappa on a national level.
2012 was an extremely successful and busy year for Epsilon Sigma! Returning from winter break, the chapter fulfilled recruitment with a wonderful and positive attitude despite the tragedy of losing a 2009 Epsilon Sigma alum, Sydney Owens. Sydney’s death was hard on many current chapter members and alumna, yet Epsilon Sigma proved a support system for all.
After receiving excellent return rates, we welcomed 38 new members to our chapter. We changed our process for big and little sisters to mutual selection, allowing for weeks of bonding activities between the first and second year new member classes. This change led to diverse interactions and friendships between the two grades. In February, we raised the most money of any sorority for Dance Marathon, the largest philanthropy at the University of Virginia that supports the UVa Children’s Hospital.
Initiating the new members in early March, Epsilon Sigma received the return of many alumnae, especially mothers and sisters to the girls in the new member class. Initiation allowed for Epsilon Sigma to work on our ritual, something we have been working to improve. We held many practices to help, which proved successful in solidifying our chapter’s ritual.
After returning from Spring Break, Epsilon Sigma geared up for sisterhood events and philanthropies. We hosted a key drive for the Keys for Hope Foundation, which raises money off of recycled keys. Collecting over 60 pounds of keys, Epsilon Sigma donated the money to the Sydney Owens’ Scholarship Foundation. Furthermore, we held another philanthropy, Tug for the Town, which supported the Charlottesville Free Clinic as well as the Sydney Owens’ Scholarship Foundation. In conjunction with Beta Theta Pi, this philanthropy saw the involvement of over 200 students, both non-Greek and Greek. As the semester came to a close, and we said goodbye to the graduates, we held a sisterhood event “Zumba in the Garden”.
A recent goal of our chapter has been to increase sisterhood events, and this was a great start! As the graduates said goodbye to UVa, we celebrated their presence in Kappa by presenting surprise letters and slideshows from their parents. Returning on grounds in the fall, Epsilon Sigma Chapter Council worked diligently to revamp Standards and Risk Management, especially concerning their involvement with social events. Although it was a challenging process, Chapter Council expertly gained support from the entire chapter through transparency.
September marked our annual philanthropy with Kappa Sigma, Kappa Kickoff. Raising money for Reading is Fundamental and the American Heart Association, Epsilon Sigma was able to honor both our national philanthropy and a philanthropy that is personal to a current member. In September we also sent one member of the Epsilon Sigma 2012 class, Haya Yaish, to the Kappa Leadership Academy. Haya was able to expand the Epsilon Sigma network, and brought back a lot of ideas for our chapter.
Again welcoming recent alumna back to Epsilon Sigma, current members and recent alumna helped to organize a charity concert for the Sydney Owens’ Scholarship Foundation. In remembering a dedicated and loved member of Epsilon Sigma, this event helped to again provide a support system for all levels of the chapter. As the weather chilled, many current members in various new member classes ran the Color Run, which supported Hands On Greater Richmond, which helps to organize volunteers in Richmond. Following, Epsilon Sigma held our elections. Utilizing new technology with electronic clickers, the process was streamlined, which helped to make elections run all the more smoothly.
At this time, Epsilon Sigma also welcomed the presence of Britt Nelson, a leadership consultant. Britt was wonderful to help the newly elected members of Chapter Council as well as offer general council, especially concerning ritual, which we have continued to improve. As 2012 came to a close, we held a sisterhood Thanksgiving Potluck, allowing the entire chapter to socialize before preparing for exams. Lastly, tragedy struck the entire Greek community, as a much-loved member of Alpha Phi passed away while on Semester at Sea with members of Epsilon Sigma. This experience personally affected many members of our chapter, yet first and foremost they all hoped to support Alpha Phi, and we did so with letters of condolences and home cooked meals. Despite the pressure of exams, the entire Greek community was able to rally to honor such a wonderful spirit of the Greek community.
The Greek community made large efforts in the last year to strengthen its ties not only with the wider UVa community but also the Charlottesville community. Furthermore, the Inter-Sorority Council (ISC) reworked their judiciary system and bylaws in the spring of 2012, thereby creating a clearer wording of their punishments and guidelines. The Inter-Sorority Council came to each chapter to answer any questions concerning these rules.
As ever, Epsilon Sigma is a tight-knit sisterhood with bright, diverse, and spirited members. In tendency with the rest of the Greek community at UVa, which has a higher average GPA than the UVa-wide average, Epsilon Sigma has incredibly hardworking students. We have held our stance as one of the top average GPAs in the Greek community. Furthermore, Epsilon Sigma has benefited greatly from the diverse array of organizations that our members are involved with outside of the Greek community. In this manner, the Epsilon Sigma has a presence not only in the Greek sphere, but also the entire UVa and Charlottesville community.
Our increased dedication to philanthropies around grounds is evidence of this presence. Furthermore, members of Epsilon Sigma have been increasingly dedicated to our chapter and to Kappa nationally. Leadership on Chapter Council helped to solidify these bonds through information presented on Kappa nationals and the Kappa foundation to all members. The work of Epsilon Sigma to reach out to local alumna shows the outward view that Epsilon Sigma has taken concerning the benefits and abilities of Kappa. We hope to maintain our wonderful membership in the future that help benefit Epsilon Sigma, UVa, and Kappa.
Epsilon Sigma had an enjoyable, busy, and successful 2013! The chapter began the year with one of the best Recruitment attitudes to date. There was very positive and high morale throughout Epsilon Sigma as we welcomed 44 wonderful new members to the chapter. The first few weeks after Recruitment were filled with bonding activities for the new members within their own pledge class, as well as with the older pledge classes, and by the beginning of February, Bigs and Littles were assigned. Also in February, Kappa bumped up two spots from the previous semester and was ranked number six in G.P.A. in the Greek community. Additionally, two Kappa Kappa Gammas, Ina Browning and Taylor Luckey, were selected to live on the Lawn for the next school year, which is one of the highest honors awarded at the University of Virginia.
Dance Marathon is the largest philanthropy at UVa and supports the UVa Children’s Hospital. Epsilon Sigma was proud to raise money for and support this great cause, and we were excited to have CeCe Conner represent us as DM’s marketing chair! Many other members were also very involved in the organization. Kathryn Gach, CeCe Conner, Coles Lawton, and Caroline Kay, Epsilon Sigma’s President, VP-O, VP-S, and Philanthropy Chairman, respectively, went to the Lambda Province meeting in Alexandria, Virginia. They found it really great to communicate with other chapters in our area, and they learned some new ideas to implement within Epsilon Sigma.
In March, the chapter started “Kappa Compliments,” which encourages Kappa members to write private messages of Thanks to their sisters. The initiation of new members also occurred in March, and many Kappa alumnae came to support their granddaughters, daughters, and sisters that were being initiated. Tug for the Town, Kappa’s main spring philanthropy, took place on a beautiful April day. The tug-of-war competition was thrown in conjunction with Beta Theta Pi, and the chapter voted for the proceeds to support Casey Schulman’s scholarship foundation. Casey was a fourth year Alpha Phi and friend to many Kappas who died tragically in a boating accident in December of 2012. The chapter came together to support the mourning Epsilon Sigma members, as well as the sisters of Alpha Phi with home cooked meals and with letters of condolences. Also in April, Kappa voted to co-sponsor the Restoration Ball, an annual gala that raises money for the restoration of the University of Virginia’s most iconic landmark: the Rotunda. Epsilon Sigma was proud to have such a large part in this huge University event.
As the semester wound down, Kappa very reluctantly said goodbye to, not only all of her wonderful graduates, but also to her wonderful house mom, Ms. Judy, who retired in May. Ms. Judy loved our house well, and we are so grateful for the years she spent with us. We threw her a going away party on the Rotunda steps, and all Epsilon Sigma members showed up with signs that read, “We love you, Ms. Judy!” Upon returning to Grounds in August, the whole chapter was welcoming and friendly to our new house mom! Though our spring semester GPA ranking usually goes down, we found out in September that we remained in great academic standing within the Greek community: 3rd out of 16 sororities and 6th out of 62 fraternities/sororities!
Shelby Patterson, a 2nd year pledge class leader, was Epsilon Sigma’s representative at the Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Academy in Ohio. Shelby learned great new leadership tips at the conference, and she loved getting to know other Kappas from across the nation! Kappa Kickoff, the chapter’s fall philanthropy, happened in September. We added in Kappa Alpha Theta this year, which was a huge success, as we had to turn away members. As the leaves began to turn in October, Kappa was put on focus letter. The new improvements the chapter must make will help us to consolidate and streamline communication, among other things. Chapter council worked hard to make it a very positive experience instead of an unfortunate one. The chapter is still benefiting from the improvements the focus letter suggested.
In November came Epsilon Sigma’s most anticipated event – Parent’s Formal! This year’s dance was held at the Boar’s Head Inn, and every one in attendance had a wonderful time dancing with dates and with dads! The chapter joined Sigma Chi to help feed families in the Charlottesville area for the Thanksgiving holidays. The chapter also had its very favorite sisterhood event, Kappa Thanksgiving, in which each family signs up to make and bring a delicious dish for all to enjoy. Fun, food, and fellowship were had by all! After elections, Epsilon Sigma welcomed Madison, our logistics coordinator, who helped the newly elected chapter council transition smoothly into their roles! One focus for our chapter is ritual, and Madison gave us great ideas for ways to improve. The semester ended with chilling temperatures and a grueling exam season, but the Kappa house stayed a warm and positive haven, filled with delicious and nutritious study snacks, for all. Describe the recent changes on your campus and describe the overall nature of your chapter.
The University of Virginia’s Inter-Sorority Council (ISC) made huge efforts this year to make the Greek community a safer, more well respected influence on Grounds. To do so, the ISC has worked to increase its positive presence within the UVa community, as well as within the Charlottesville community as a whole. One such example is Greek Carnival, a Saturday afternoon fall bazaar for the Charlottesville community. Several Kappas volunteered their time and efforts to make this celebration a success. The ISC has also made great efforts to get all chapter presidents on board for making certain well-known party nights safer and to make more chapter women prepared to go into these nights. Our former president and ISC-representative, Kathryn and Margaret, did an excellent job communicating the standards Kappa Kappa Gamma and the ISC expect, and the chapter did an excellent job upholding those standards. Margaret is now the chapter’s current president, and her experience with the ISC makes her well equipped to lead Epsilon Sigma, as presidents have done before her, with integrity and with grace.
The Greek community has a higher GPA than the UVa-wide average, and Epsilon Sigma consistently ranks among the top of this community in academics. What has made this chapter stand out, however, is the passion each member has for something outside of the Greek community. It in not unusual for a Kappa to not only be highly involved in another organization on Grounds, but to also promote that organization within the chapter. This encouraged participation in and passion for other clubs and philanthropies increases Kappa’s presence on Grounds and the Charlottesville community, and it helps to build well-rounded and highly motivated individuals that make both alums and present members of Epsilon Sigma proud.
Epsilon Sigma had a busy, fruitful, yet challenging 2014! The chapter began the year with one of the most successful and exciting recruitments yet! We really attempted to make every Potential New Member feel loved and for one of the first times, we had 100% return rates after themes round! We happily welcomed 45 wonderful New Members into the Epsilon Sigma chapter. The rest of January consisted of chapter bonding activities throughout the snowstorm led by the wonderful president Margaret Hjort, as we still responded to being put on a Focus Letter the previous year. Margaret and the Chapter Council made responses to the Focus Letter a top priority throughout the entire year of 2014.
By February, even though it had only been a month, all of Kappa was so close and we were extremely excited for bigs and littles to be assigned. We celebrated when we heard that Kappa still proudly maintained the sixth highest GPA out of all UVa sororities (and we did even better in the fall!). Also, one of our fourth years, Meg Gould, got selected to live on the lawn, which is one of the highest honors achievable at UVa!
Initiation was definitely the highlight of March since girls were in such high spirits and moms and grandmothers came to surprise their daughters. Chapter Council and all of Kappa embodied the same excitement as rush and made initiation a very special time for the New Members. Epsilon Sigma raised money for Dance Marathon, which is one of the largest philanthropies at UVa and supports the UVa Children’s Hospital. Many members of Kappa are involved in putting on Dance Marathon, including Emily Ann Self, who served as the marketing co-chair!
In April, Kappa was beyond proud of Meg Gould, who was selected to be the only student representative on the University's Board of Visitors, which is the absolute highest honor bestowed upon a student at UVa! Also, one of our main philanthropies that we put on with Beta Theta Pi, Tug for the Town, was a huge success for a cause close to many of our hearts. Kappa voted to donate the proceeds to a scholarship in honor of a Member’s brother and mother that passed away early that year. In many other ways besides this, the Kappa girls came together to support our sisters through these hard times.
As May approached we were all sad to say goodbye to our phenomenal fourth year pledge class, who have gone on to do incredible things in consulting, medical school, investment banking, education reform, and more.
Over the summer, our president Margaret Hjort represented the Chapter at the Kappa Convention in Houston, TX in July. She said it was informative and gave her great ideas for boosting morale and sisterhood! Over the summer while most members were traveling, studying abroad, and interning, the Kappa house underwent some small but effective renovations, like making an office out of an old storage closet, reorganizing the mailroom, and reupholstering the chapter room furniture.
As the new school year came in August, we were all excited to warmly welcome our new house mom Toni LeBrun-Denton and new incredible chefs Judy, Sam, and Arthur! However, in September, UVa faced tragedy when second year student Hannah Graham was abducted and murdered from the Charlottesville area one Friday night. This tragedy sent a hopeless, cold feeling across the UVa campus, which Kappa responded to by coming together as a sisterhood. We encouraged every member to reach out at night if she ever needed a buddy to walk home with, and many members would text their pledge classes offering rides to those who needed them whenever they were able. The chapter started really looking out for each other, as well as the rest of the University community, to keep everyone as safe as possible.
September also brought the exciting news that Kappa had moved from the sixth highest GPA to the third highest (3.478) out of all of the UVa sororities! October was a busy and great month for Kappa and we started it off with our favorite philanthropy, Kappa Kickoff, which we put on with Kappa Sigma. We raised a lot of money for Reading is Fundamental, but we also have been planning to go to the new UVa children’s hospital and read books! Pancakes for Parkinson's raises the most money for Parkinson's Disease and Kappa was proud to have Julia Johnson, Kaley Ricciardeli, and Catherine Ken (Chairman) representing us on the executive board! But that is not all- many other members of Kappa volunteer their time to help on the day of this event! To keep the fun going, we welcomed back all alumni members during Homecomings weekend with food and water at Meg's Lawn room! Elizabeth Kirby, our VPAE, started recognizing members who got great grades on assignments by handing out bags of popcorn (grades in KKG are poppin'!). Later in the month, Kappa hosted two leadership consultants! One consultant gave an inspiring presentation on RIF, from which we all learned fascinating facts about our philanthropy. The other gave a presentation on "the big picture of the organization" which made everyone motivated to get more involved in Kappa as more than just a social organization. Both presentations helped to further foster unity and commitment throughout the chapter. Kappa member, Ellie Sohm, was the second year representative at the KKG Leadership Academy in Ohio. She was excited to tell the chapter about her experience learning more about the core values of Kappa and for this unique group of Kappa girls to encourage each other to seek excellence in all areas and become leaders across campus.
We ended the fun and active month of October with a Kappa Halloween movie night where we watched our favorite childhood movies and ate candy! One of the highlights of the year was definitely Parent's Formal, planned by our member, Margaret Page! It was held at Boar’s head, a beautiful country club and hotel in Charlottesville and we had a delicious dinner and danced the night away with our parents!
Things took a turn when UVa was the subject of an expose in Rolling Stone magazine regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Kappa responded by encouraging members to engage in dialogue about the sensitive issue - in fact, we even dedicated one chapter meeting to a conversation about what we can do within Kappa to be active bystanders and intervene in suspicious situations, as well as what conversations we can have with male fraternity friends (and other people in general) regarding disrespectful treatment of women, both in action and in colloquial dialogue. The chapter meeting regarding sexual assault was the first meeting our wonderful new president Annie Clark led - she responded promptly, sensitively, and openly in making Kappa a safe space for the issue of sexual assault. We are excited to see Annie lead our chapter during this time of action at the University, particularly in the Greek community, and implement the ideas the chapter came up with in regard to this serious issue.
Since we were sad to part for Thanksgiving break, we had our own Kappa Thanksgiving, where each family brought a Thanksgiving dish and as a chapter we sat around the table and ate a delicious potluck feast! December was a time of giving for Kappa, first off, by Holiday Sharing with Sigma Chi, where we bought Christmas presents and more for a Charlottesville family. We also raised money to help Marlena, our beloved housekeeper, out during a difficult financial time and raised money to give Sam, Judy, and Arthur (our cooks) wonderful Christmas gifts to show our appreciation for their incredible service this semester! We were sad to leave UVa and Kappa for the Christmas break but we had a phenomenal year and look forward to seeing Kappa’s continued excellence in the one to come!
The aforementioned tragedies for the UVa community, the disappearance of Hannah Graham and the Rolling Stone article, resulted in a chilling and uneasy atmosphere across the UVa campus. First off, every person was heartbroken over the abduction and murder of Hannah Graham and it left people feeling helpless and scared. Boys across campus were disgusted and shocked by the disappearance, while girls were scared and felt like targets. All of this resulted in a wake up call for the Greek community and UVa campus as a whole. Our president of Kappa, Margaret Hjort, sent out emails about safety and available resources here at UVa if a member of Kappa wanted to talk. She also spoke in chapter many times stressing the need for safety and girls to watch out for each other, which was definitely well received in our chapter. Kappa responded by encouraging every member to reach out at night if she ever needed a buddy to walk home with, and many members would text their pledge classes offering rides to those who needed them whenever they were able. Many fraternities reached out to girls in Kappa offering to walk them home at any time and stressing safety. Although it was a horrific incident, it fostered a unified and secure community.
Shortly after the community recovered from this overwhelming sadness, the Rolling Stone magazine featured UVa in an article regarding sexual assault on college campuses. The UVa community was in uproar, some people because they felt that UVa, particularly the Greek community, was largely misrepresented, and others because they wanted to abolish the Greek system. Kappa responded by encouraging members to engage in dialogue about the sensitive issue - in fact, we even dedicated one chapter meeting to a conversation about what we can do within Kappa to be active bystanders and intervene in suspicious situations, as well as what conversations we can have with male fraternity friends (and other people in general) regarding disrespectful treatment of women, both in action and in colloquial dialogue. As a chapter, we worked hard to raise awareness and combat sexual assault, which, based on statistics, effects 1/4th of our chapter. Although UVa had to deal with these two difficult tragedies, it made the community stronger, more unified, and meet needs that we didn’t even know that we had.
On a lighter note, the Epsilon Sigma chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma is proud to rank among the top of the Greek community and UVa campus’s GPA. However, Kappa girls not only succeed academically. What makes Kappa so special is that every single girl is extremely involved in whatever she is passionate about, whether that is sports, student government, community service, honor council, sustainability, art, TedX, music and more. These individual passions encourage participation from all members of Kappa in different, eclectic organizations impacting the UVa campus and the Charlottesville community. This atmosphere of passion and excellence that Kappa fosters helps to build well-rounded and highly motivated individuals that make both alums and present members of Epsilon Sigma proud.
Our chapter holds chapter meetings in the chapter owned facility. Unlike all other UVa sororities, Epsilon Sigma owns the house that we live in! The Epsilon Sigma chapter was founded here in 1975 and the house was built in 1979 so it is the only house that we have ever owned or lived in. All members have the chance to live in the house their 3rd year and although only about 20-22 girls can live in it at one time, the numbers work out with people going abroad.
One of our Kappa sisters, Meg Gould, proudly wears a badge that has been passed down to her throughout her family. Mentioned above, Meg Gould has received two of the biggest honors that UVa has to bestow upon someone; she is the only student member on the Board of Visitors and lives on the lawn. She has received both of these honors because of her excellence in academics, and passion for her involvements around the UVa campus. From the best internships in Washington DC, to serving on UVa’s honor committee and more, Meg has been an incredible influence within Kappa and representative of Kappa and the values we hold dear to the Charlottesville community.