Music fraternity offers a community for women musicians


President of the Loyola’s Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity Angel Williams dons her letters. Photo credit: Courtesy of Johanna Jeter

Erin Haynes

March may be dedicated to recognizing women’s history, but Loyola’s Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity celebrates womanhood year-round as a women-only organization that is rooted in sisterhood.

“That’s a fact of life,” said the organization’s recruitment manager, Claire Gerling. “Women feel like they really have to fight to earn their place in their profession and Sigma Alpha Iota is a place where all female musicians can definitely belong.”

Like many of her peers, Gerling joined the fraternity to take advantage of the professional notoriety, networking opportunities and tohave a support system of women.

Gerling’s colleague, Vanessa Tetzlaff, corresponding secretary and co-editor, said that it is harder for women to be respected in music than men, as the industry is often dominated by men.

“There’s a stigma behind the words ‘fraternity’ and ‘sorority,’” said Tetzlaff. “When you hear sorority, you automatically think, ‘Oh, they party a lot, they do a lot more feminine-type stuff, there’s parties, it’s a lot more fun.’ And fraternity, for me, sounds like it’s a lot more academic and mature,” said Tetzlaff.

Unlike other organizations on campus, members say the organization stands out because it provides a professional experience instead of a social one. It also allows members to meet other women who have a passion for music.

“Sometimes in freshman year you don’t feel like you belong anywhere else, but once you get to know the girls in SAI, you’re like, ‘This is a place where I can be myself. I’m welcomed and appreciated for my uniqueness,;” said SAI member, Karissa Mooney.

Mooney joined the fraternity the spring semester of her freshman year through the recommendation of upperclassmen, according to Mooney.

But, SAI President Angel Williams, said that the organization remains unknown to the majority of the university because it is limited to the College of Music and Fine Arts.

Despite being a music fraternity, Williams said the organization is open to women in any major and background.

The requirements to join include maintaining a 2.5 or higher GPA, earning credit toward one music class offered on campus and attending an event during recruitment week.

New members can expect opportunities to win scholarships and do fundraising events to donatemoney to different philanthropies supported by SAI, according to Williams.

SAI held its annual recruitment week in February, and Williams said that the fraternity needed to be better advertised, in order to attract new members.

Williams said this was necessary because if SAI did not advertise, students, including other Greek life leaders could have thought the organization was brand new or secretive.

“When I became president, I just wanted to slash, like, all of that was gone. We needed to put our recruitment flyers on the TVs in the Danna Center, so we can get it out to more people. There’s so many people that love music, but they aren’t a music major. But if you have a love for music and a passion for music, you can be a part of SAI,” said Williams.

Once a member meets the requirements, SAI leaders ask the recruits if they want to join. They embark on a four-week training journey to learnabout the fraternity, complete a test, and then they are initiated.

Williams said one of the most rewarding experiences as a member is helping one another. One of her favorite moments was helping a member raise funds to attend graduate school, according to Williams.

“She sent out a message to ask all of the SAI people, we did a fundraiser, and 25% of the money we raised would go to her to help her out,” said Williams.

All of the participants The Maroon spoke to agreed that sisterhood is the core of the fraternity, and the members support each other on a professional and personal level.

Some of their favorite experiences include helping one another during auditions and cheering for each other on for the annual recital.

“At the end of the recital, whoever’s recital it is, they stand in the middle, and we sing the choral around them. This is their highest achievement. They’ve finished school. We did this together,” said Williams.

Gerling said being a music student is an intense experience, and “knowing we’re there for each other, while we’re going through very similar things in the music school,” is a relieving feeling.

Members even call each other in the middle of the night for support, and they send daily affirmations to remind each other of their worth.

“Honestly, I am really glad that I joined because I have not met many people, like the people that I know within my chapter. They are my family,” said Williams.