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Beta Sigma Beta (ΒΣΒ) (also known as Beta Sig, Beta Samach or Beta Sigma Rho) is a Greek-Letter college fraternity.
Beta Sigma Beta Fraternity began on October 22, 1910 at Cornell University when four students who had been denied participation in Cornell's existing fraternities because of their religion decided to form their own secret society. This fraternity was based on the principles of scholarship, mutual aid and companionship. The four founding members were M.H. Millman, M.W. Millman, L. Krohn and M. Koenig. They were soon joined by eight others: S. Blickman, Daniel Grady, A. Pollack, A. Fox, M. Wyckoff, I.J. Elkind, F. Kleinman, H.Z. Harris and J. Cohen. These twelve men are known as the founding fathers.
The original name of the fraternity was Beta Samach. The Greek letter "Beta" was chosen to signify the ideals of the Greek society, while the Hebrew letter "Samach" was chosen to signify the social and cultural aspirations of the Jewish society. The early fraternity had no formal rules. Meetings were held in a small attic room. Over time, a constitution, a ceremonial ritual, a pin and a variety of other traditions developed. Beta Samach attracted new members and progressed from the attic to a boarding house and finally to a house of their own. This became known as the Alpha chapter.
In 1913 a second chapter was established at Penn State. The Cornell group was designated Alpha chapter, and the Penn State group became Beta chapter. Its charter members included George Belchic, Abraham Sherman and Louis Hendler. Beta chapter was the thirteenth fraternity to be chartered by Penn State. In its early years, the men of Beta Samach, Beta Chapter, resided in a boarding house on Allen Street. However, the house grew inadequate for the needs of the members, so in 1930 the present house was constructed.
In 1920, Beta Samach was formally organized as a national fraternity and the name was changed to Beta Sigma Rho. Other chapters were established at Columbia, University at Buffalo, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie-Mellon, University of Toronto, Rutgers, University of Western Ontario, University of Kentucky, Syracuse, University of Miami and New York University. In 1950, the ritual was modified to reflect a non-sectarian viewpoint.
The national fraternity continued to prosper until the late 1960s. At that time, anti-fraternity sentiment spread across many campuses, and memberships in fraternities dwindled. Many fraternities closed or merged with others. Several Beta Sigma Rho chapters were particularly hard hit, and some closed their doors. Others faced an uncertain future with dwindling interest and falling memberships. The Beta chapter at Penn State, which had always enjoyed strong alumni and undergraduate support, continued to prosper.
In 1972, the national officers of Beta Sigma Rho decided to merge with Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity in hopes of saving the remaining chapters. In exchange for financial assistance, all Beta Sigma Rho chapters would be absorbed into Pi Lambda Phi. Cornell was an exception, in that the Pi Lambda Phi house there was disbanded and the Beta Sigma Rho house and its members became Pi Lambda Phi. The original Beta Sigma Rho Alpha chapter, after being renamed as Pi Lambda Phi, folded several years later. However, some Beta Sigma Rho chapters declined the merger offer, preferring to retain their traditional character. Beta chapter at Penn State decided to become an unaffiliated, independent fraternity. In Spring 1975, Beta chapter was chartered by Pennsylvania State University as Beta Sigma Beta fraternity.
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