Thank You, Loyal Donors!
History of Iota Iota Chapter
The Founding of Iota Iota
On October 29, 1876, the Iota Iota Chapter of Sigma Chi was installed at The University of Alabama. This made Sigma Chi the fifth fraternity established on campus behind Delta Kappa Epsilon (1847), Phi Gamma Delta (1855), Sigma Alpha Epsilon (1856), and Sigma Nu (1874). Nationally, it was the 35th chapter to be issued a charter by Sigma Chi Fraternity.
The Kibble J. Harrison Incident
Within one year of the chapter’s founding, a disagreement arose between two members of Sigma Chi and Delta Kappa Epsilon. On February 28, 1877, two students, Kibble J. Harrison (ΣΧ) and William W. Alston (ΔKE), walked to opposite ends of the second story veranda of Woods Hall to settle their dispute. The previous day, Alston had publically questioned the integrity of Harrison’s younger cousin, an act that forced Harrison to defend her honor. Even though dueling had been outlawed by the Alabama legislature in 1819, Harrison challenged Alston to a duel to settle the matter, and Alston accepted the challenge so that he would not gain the reputation of being a coward.
As the two students reached the end of the Woods Hall veranda, Harrison drew his pistol and fired one shot. Alston returned the shot but then slumped over the veranda banister and fell to the ground of the quadrangle below, where he lay dead. Harrison was promptly brought to trial for the murder of Alston, but he was acquitted by a jury of his peers. It is interesting to note that historically, the Harrison-Alston duel may be one of the last publicized duels that actually resulted in a fatality in the post-antebellum South.
The Phi Epsilon Years
As a result of the illegal duel, University officials, already suspicious of Greek organizations, mandated the disbanding and removal of all fraternities on campus. Rather than simply disband the new chapter, the brothers of Iota Iota formed an underground society that came to be known as the Phi Epsilon Literary Society. Members of Phi Epsilon referred to themselves as the druids, which was a reference to the old nickname of Tuscaloosa as The Druid City. In the years that followed, Phi Epsilon maintained an active presence as a secret society at The University of Alabama. Even as fraternities were allowed to return to campus in the late 1800s, the brothers of Phi Epsilon were still banned from rechartering as Sigma Chi, as the Kibble J. Harrison incident was still fresh on the minds of the University faculty that remained from 1877.
Re-charter of Iota Iota
Finally in 1914, members of Phi Epsilon petitioned Sigma Chi to return to campus as the original Iota Iota Chapter. This effort was aided tremendously by University President George Denny, a Sigma Chi from the Psi Chapter at the University of Virginia. Not coincidentally, 1914 was also the same year that the Student Government Association and the Jasons Men’s Honorary were established at the University. Beginning at the start of the century until the 1960’s, Sigma Chi occupied a house on Old Row in front of what was then Denny Stadium. In 1968, with the old house simply not large enough to meet the needs of the chapter, Iota Iota moved to its current location on the corner-lot of Jefferson Avenue. We are now located on University Blvd once again with a new house that brothers of all generations can take pride in. An asset this grand requires significant love and care. The members of the Iota Iota House Corporation are committed to ensuring that care.
Derby Days and Sweethearts
Started in California in 1933, the event that evolved into what has become known as “Sigma Chi Derby Days” spread to the South at the Universities of Tennessee and Georgia in 1935. Soon after, Iota Iota began to host its own version of what has become a campus tradition at the Capstone. In April 2010, Iota Iota hosted its 58th running of Derby Days and had over 2,000 sorority members participate. More importantly, the five-day event raised $32,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Alabama, the largest single charitable donation ever given to charity by an Alabama Greek-letter organization. Iota Iota has given more than $120,000 to Children’s Hospital of Alabama since 2002.
In our long history, Iota Iota has also been honored to have five Sigma Chi International Sweethearts, more than any other chapter in the history of the entire fraternity. This accomplishment was only achieved thanks to the class, grace, and beauty of the following women who represented Iota Iota on the international stage: Mary Jo Brazelton (1965), Patti Rawlinson-Holt (1975), Jenna Ward (1979), Lisa Wheeler (1985), and Alexa Stabler (2010).
135 Years and Counting
This fall, the Iota Iota Chapter will celebrate its 137th continuous year at the University of Alabama. Over that time, our chapter has won ten Peterson Outstanding Chapter Awards, including its third in a row this past summer (1969, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1985, 1994, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). With over 1,500 living alumni and more than 130 active members, the future looks bright for Iota Iota at the Capstone. The chapter welcomes all alumni, family, and friends to stop by the house whenever they are in Tuscaloosa, especially on football Saturdays.