Idaho State University Branch of Kappa Sigma Fraternity Receives National Attention for Recruitment Efforts

Kirsten Cooper

POCATELLO – Greek life at Idaho State University has been receiving more attention as of late, and the ISU branch of Kappa Sigma is part of the reason.

Idaho State University Branch of Kappa Sigma Fraternity Receives National Attention for Recruitment Efforts

Earlier this year, Kappa Sigma recruited the largest pledge class the branch has seen so far. Nearly 50 men were recruited and 26 of them were initiated.

This marks significant growth in the chapter, as the fraternity’s pledge classes in the past typically averaged around 10 recruits, with the largest pledge class being 29 recruits.

Johnny Dawson, Kappa Sigma’s current president, says the growth the branch has seen in the last few years has been astounding.

“When I first joined Kappa Sigma in 2014, there were only 12 active members,” Dawson said. “There are 50 active members now, and that substantial leap in membership over such a short period of time is what has garnered a lot of the attention.”

Mitch Cushman, the recruitment officer for Kappa Sigma, says the demographics of the branch have changed a great deal over the last year as well.

“One thing I’ve noticed since I joined last year is Kappa Sigma has become more of a traditional chapter,” Cushman said. “Where there used to be a lot of guys who were either non-traditional or part-time students, most of our new members are full-time freshmen.”

Cushman said that the addition of younger members, specifically freshmen, helps the chapter grow because it gives them a chance to develop into the chapter’s new leaders once the older members have graduated.

Dawson said that joining Kappa Sigma early in his college career was extremely beneficial.

“When some people first get to college, especially if they’re fresh out of high school and living on their own for the first time, they might struggle,” Dawson said. “We help provide a format they can follow.”

One of Kappa Sigma’s primary goals is to help all members advance themselves academically and professionally, as well as on a personal level.

“We always strive to follow our four pillars: leadership, scholarship, service, and fellowship,” Dawson said. “That’s what we base ourselves on, and that’s what we tell all the guys who want to join.”

“Sometimes when you think of traditional fraternities as they’re portrayed in movies and television, your mind can go to a dark place, but we’re not that,” Dawson continued. “We’re here because we want to make our community a better place and create more leaders for the future."

Kappa Sigma participates in Rush Week each semester to help recruit new members.

Rush Week is a weeklong series of events that gives any man thinking of joining a fraternity the opportunity to learn more about them and to meet the brotherhood.

Kappa Sigma typically provides events that relate to their four pillars.

Once interested individuals are pledged in, they enter a seven-week probationary period during which time they must maintain a high GPA and cannot receive any Fs in addition to logging the mandatory library hours.  

During this period, pledges learn more about the history of Kappa Sigma and the local chapter. They will also receive a greater understanding of what it means to exemplify each of the four pillars.

Pledge classes are also required to plan events exemplifying at least one of Kappa Sigma’s four pillars in order to receive an early opportunity to demonstrate leadership and fellowship.

Finally, pledges must throw a fundraiser for themselves as well as participate in socials with other Greeks and the public.           

Pledges who successfully complete each of these tasks throughout the probationary period will be initiated into Kappa Sigma.

Participating in philanthropies is one of Kappa Sigma’s main goals.

This November, the members of Kappa Sigma grew mustaches for “Movember”, a yearly fundraiser to help raise funding to treat men’s medical issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and the mental health of men.

“We raised a record amount for our chapter this year,” Dawson said. “We raised $2,500, but we’re using matched funding to reach $3,000.”

In the spring, they will take part in the Military Heroes Campaign, Kappa Sigma’s international philanthropy designed to honor and aid military veterans and their families.

As part of this campaign, they will hold Ride for the Troops, a 24-hour bike-a-thon around the ISU Hutchinson Quadrangle. This event will also feature live music and a raffle. Individual members of Kappa Sigma will also raise money for this cause through donations.

“The most we have raised in the past is a little over $3,000, but our goal for this year is to reach $10,000,” Dawson said. “Since our chapter’s membership has more than doubled, we think we will be able to raise an amount that reflects that.”

Dawson and Cushman agree that the motivation that the chapter’s new members bring to the table will also facilitate that goal.

“Not only are the new guys extremely motivated, but their motivation and energy pushes members who have been involved for longer to try even harder,” Cushman said. “It becomes a friendly competition to see who can raise more money.”

Over the last year, ISU’s chapter of Kappa Sigma has earned a number of awards both nationally and campus-wide.

“Our pride and joy from last year was winning the Founders’ Award of Chapter Excellence (FACE),” Dawson said.

FACE is a nationwide competition between all chapters of Kappa Sigma that, among other requirements, requires each member of the chapter to raise a certain amount of money for at least two philanthropies while still meeting all scholarship requirements.

“There’s a long list of things that need to be completed for it, and it’s not an easy award to win,” Dawson said. “Last year, out of 300 chapters, only 60 won it, and we were one of them. It’s an even bigger deal coming from a smaller campus without a huge Greek life.”

This year, the chapter’s goal is to win the Founders’ Circle Award, the highest award given to individual chapters.

“Last year, only eight chapters won it, and we are on track to win it this year,” Dawson said. “It will require us to raise $60 per person toward a philanthropy other than the Military Heroes Campaign and complete 60 hours of community service per man. We have to raise at least $2,000 before the Military Heroes Campaign, but we’re aiming for more than that.”

Dawson and Cushman both highly recommend joining a fraternity or sorority.

“You get to know so many people, and they essentially become your family,” Cushman said. “Greek life is growing so much right now, so you end up having family in all of your classes, and you see family everywhere you go on campus. It makes school a lot more enjoyable and gives you purpose.”

Dawson said that joining Kappa Sigma helped him learn how to be an adult when he first arrived at ISU.

“There’s a lot of problem solving and responsibility involved, especially when it comes to planning events,” Dawson said. “It goes a long way in teaching accountability and responsibility for people who are out on their own for the first time.”

Cushman said that he hopes to see an even larger growth in Greek life before he leaves ISU.

“I’d really like to see even more chapters of both fraternities and sororities,” Cushman said. “As a whole, I think it really helps the university. Not only does it help contribute to community service and fundraising around campus, but it gives members an extra reason to come back every semester. Like I said, you really do become a big family, and I can’t express how great that is.”

For more information on Kappa Sigma, contact Johnny Dawson at dawsjona@isu.edu.

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