The men of Sigma Alpha Sigma (SAS) are known to many for their spirit at athletic events, whether painting their bodies blue or shooting off their cannon with every touchdown the Tigers make. But in February, a tradition came to an end when the men’s social club lost its charter.
“The decision was made by me and consultation with our director of campus activities, Nathan Shelburne,” said Dr. Keldon Henley, dean of students. “There had been recurring problems in the past several years. The university lost confidence in the club’s capability or willingness to make substantive changes.”
Although SAS leaders had the option of appealing to the student life committee, they ultimately chose not to.
SAS was founded in 1932 by Joe Bill Gillespie, Charles Haging, Bob McConnell and John Ed Martin, and was the oldest men’s club on campus. Brotherhood and loyalty are terms members constantly used to describe the club.
“The club carries with it a tradition of brotherhood that has been around since Joe Bill Gillespie founded [it],” said junior Sean Wilson, who joined the club in 2006. “SAS was an extremely diverse club, which is a factor that makes the club so unique. But, regardless of the diversity, our brotherhood still remains strong.”
Originally known as the Four Roses, SAS participated in everything from Tiger Tunes to Tiger Serve Day, and sponsored events like Octogafest and Sigma Alpha Sigma Jukebox.
“SAS JukeBox was established sometime in the 1990s and we brought it back a year ago,” Wilson said, “playing music of the students’ choice in the [Commons] every Wednesday for dinner. Also, not many people on campus remember ‘S’ NIGHT LIVE. Obviously a spoof of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ members of the club would conduct funny interviews, perform skits, dances and sing songs for an audience for a small fee … usually around 27 cents.”
With a long history, there are many alumni tied to the tradition of SAS. While there is no current plan to inform alumni of the decision, Henley hopes those who hear about it will understand.
“We certainly are appreciative of alumni and others who think enough of the university to give their contributions to the university,” Henley said. “We hope they understand that we can’t make student life decisions based on who gives money and who doesn’t give money.”
All social clubs are aware of what actions can get their charters suspended, and usually try to avoid those. Henley encouraged clubs to think of the big picture, being a part of Ouachita.
“I think it would be important for clubs to remind themselves of the mission and values of this university,” he said, “and to realize they are a part of the university and should be positive contributors to student life. The vast majority of our social clubs are entirely cooperative and we appreciate greatly the contributions they make to student life.”