When you graduate and become an alumni member of Phi Sigma Pi, your access to the Ritual Induction Ceremony changes. In a collegiate chapter, you’re guaranteed to witness Induction twice a year, and though you may take it for granted as an undergrad (I certainly did), it serves as a reminder of everything we believe in and stand for as Brothers. As an alum, you likely need to make a special trip to attend an Induction. If you live far from your home chapter, you may choose to attend another chapter’s Induction, which is the same Ritual, but it’s bound to be slightly less meaningful if you don’t know the Brothers you’re inducting.
Alumni chapters, like NYMAAC, don’t typically have Inductions. Our members come to us not in semesterly (or quarterly) initiate classes, but in drips and drabs, as Brothers graduate, move to the city, and hear about us through word of mouth. Plus, they’re already Brothers, so they can be members of our chapter without going through the Ritual. Sometimes, though, an individual who is not a member of Phi Sigma Pi exhibits dedication to our ideals and service to our organization that is akin to that of a Brother. In this case, a chapter may induct such an individual as an honorary Brother. NYMAAC was lucky enough to be in this situation this past May.
Over the past several years, NYMAAC has come to know Jonah Nigh. He came into our circle via NYMAAC Brother Patrick Herron; the two married last July. Though it only recently became official, he has always very clearly been one of us and I would have enthusiastically voted in his favor as an undergrad on bid night. In fact, I did just that in an online poll, as did a quorum of NYMAAC members, unanimously. Once we had the approval of the chapter, NYMAAC president Kate McConnell reached out to Jonah to invite him to join, and he graciously accepted.
The planning process was fun. NYMAAC had never held an Induction before, and many of us on e-board hadn’t attended one in years. We chose to combine Induction with our 15th anniversary NYMAAC birthday dinner (calling it that is our way of avoiding the apostrophe problem in “Founders Day”). Perennial NYMAAC event hosts Jeremy & Jon Chin-Shepard reserved their building’s rooftop common room for the event, and we cobbled together a ceremony using implements we borrowed from various collegiate chapters around the area (thank you, Alpha Theta, Gamma Xi, and Delaware Valley Alumni Chapters!). Kate assumed the role of director and producer for the event, assigning speaking parts to various NYMAAC members. Without revealing anything from our secret text, I will simply say that a lot of plurals had to be changed to singulars (I used post-its).
The big day came, and I met Jonah outside the building and escorted him to the room. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and it felt very familiar and comfortable, like home. When it was done, Jonah was officially a Brother of Phi Sigma Pi. Nothing had changed about him—he was the same Jonah he was before the ceremony—but NYMAAC and Phi Sigma Pi were definitely changed. We are stronger, smarter, richer, warmer, and better having added a new member, this member, to our ranks.
The evening continued with some awards (among them a Chapter Service Key to Patrick Herron), food, drink, and some lively board gaming, before we relinquished the room to tenants patiently waiting to use the room for sport watching.