By Alyssa Pawluk
Youngstown State University’s chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma is boasting the highest grades of all its chapters throughout the entire country this past year.
The chapter is an extension of the national college fraternity that was founded in 1920 by veterans of the First World War.
Brandon O’Neill, president of the YSU chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma, explained the mission of YSU’s chapter of the fraternity.
“Our main mission is to develop better leaders, not only for Youngstown State but out in the community. The ultimate goal is to create successful individuals for when they graduate and move on with their lives outside of college,” O’Neill said.
The criteria to get into the fraternity are focused on attracting students with academic success and hours spent volunteering at the university. O’Neill said that although the policy requires a 2.5 grade point average minimum, he would like to have members with at least a 3.0.
The fraternity currently houses 31 male students and conducts meetings every Sunday at 8 p.m.
O’Neill said that what separates the YSU chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma from other nationwide chapters is the “outstanding excellence” of its members.
“This past year, the YSU chapter of Sig Tau had the highest grades in the entire country out of all the chapters. We came in second place for members who have leadership positions on campus and other organizations,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that recruitment is a large part of the process of having these notable members.
“Basically, it all comes down to recruiting. I think that we have a lot of high quality members and therefore other high quality men on campus are attracted to that idea of coming together. We are looking for the best guys on campus, and the best guys on campus are the ones that are going to step up and be SGA presidents and be leaders in their respective organizations,” O’Neill said.
Three Student Government Association presidents were members of the fraternity. An alumnus of Sigma Tau Gamma started the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. Michael Ray, a Youngstown city councilman, is another alumnus of the fraternity.
Michael Slavens, president of the YSU SGA and a member of Sigma Tau Gamma, expressed his sentiment for his participation in the fraternity.
“We pride ourselves on our leadership and our scholastic achievement. It’s a great group of guys. It’s a great way to network on campus more. Sometimes it’s hard to make those connections outside of class and that is just another avenue to get to know more people. I feel like it’s very important to get involved on campus because then you feel that connection with campus; you feel like you belong here,” Slavens said.
Slavens said that the fraternity volunteers with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and has worked to board up abandon houses in neighborhoods throughout the Valley. Last semester, the group organized a pumpkin smash to help raise money.
Slavens said that the fraternity focuses on brotherhood and community involvement.
“With fraternity, I always talk about brotherhood. Part of that is them always looking out for you, helping you to be better. They are willing to say ‘Hey, you messed up there.’ It’s not just a friendship. They are actually trying to help you become a better person. I think that’s one of the overarching goals of fraternity life in general,” Slavens said.
Slavens added that he wished he had been involved in the fraternity during his freshman year at YSU.
“It’s freshmen year. You don’t know your place yet and I think it has a special place for freshmen. It is a way to get to know so many more people. If I would’ve come in as a freshman, I think I would’ve gotten even more out of it and would’ve enjoyed it even more than I already have. I would encourage people to get involved as a freshman. You need those connections; you need those fun activities to keep your time occupied,” he said.
O’Neill expressed his excitement to be a part of the fraternity.
“To me, it’s a great honor to be part of it because I know how many high quality individuals are part of our organization and to be voted by them as president is very humbling,” O’Neill said.