Illinois College is the only college in Illinois, and quite possibly, the only remaining college in the country that includes literary, fraternal and social activities in one organization. Initial literary society formation on the campus began in 1843 due to strong interest in intercollegiate oratory and requests for organizations specializing in literary and forensic expression.
The seven literary societies, three women’s and four men’s, continue to flourish at Illinois College. The women's societies are: Chi Beta, Gamma Delta, and Sigma Phi Epsilon. The men's societies are: Gamma Nu, Phi Alpha, Pi Pi Rho, and Sigma Pi. These groups hold weekly business meetings and literary programs, where members offer debates, orations, essays, declamations, dramatic monologues, readings, extemporaneous speeches and individual compositions. They also offer many services and social activities that benefit society members, all Illinois College students and the Jacksonville community.
Location: Smith House
Colors: Pink and White
Motto: "Unity through Diversity"
Flower: Pink Tea Rose
Brothers: The men of Pi Pi Rho
Chi Beta is the youngest of the women’s literary societies but we still pride ourselves on our rich history and many traditions. Founded under the name of Senate in 1919, our purpose was intelligent debate. In 1920, our name was changed to Agora. Finally, in 1934, our name was changed to Chi Beta. During World War II, our membership decreased so the society was discontinued only to be re-founded in 1946 by seven women. It is in honor of these seven women that we start our literary meetings at seven minutes past the hour. The women of Chi Beta stress friendship, unity and sisterhood within their society. We put forth great effort in achieving our goals, but we still have a lot of fun doing it!
Location: Smith House
Colors: Pink and Green
Motto: "Crowned with knowledge, winged with power"
Flower: Red Rose
Brothers: The men of Gamma Nu
Gamma Delta was the first women’s society to be founded on the Illinois College campus. Gamma Delta holds these three virtues as most important in running the society: tradition, creativity and individuality. In addition, Gamma Delta is unique because it focuses on individuality in productions as an integral part of its literary program. Delts are proud to be involved with many activities on campus and also within the community. We stay very busy throughout the school year by taking part in weekly business meetings, fund raisers, rush activities, service projects, literary meetings, joints with other societies and a yearly spring weekend in Missouri.
Sigma Phi Epsilon
Location: Smith House
Colors: Yellow and White
Motto: "Knowledge, Love and Service"
Brothers: The men of Sigma Pi
Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded in 1916 by three women. Since then, it has had a long-standing tradition of literary excellence, service, academics and sociability. Service is a vital part of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Throughout the year, we participate in projects such as: helping at the local soup kitchen, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Ronald McDonald House. Sigma Phi Epsilon excels both academically and socially. We have many joints with the male societies and are actively involved in campus activities. We have also had numerous members inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. The bond developed in Phips is a circle of friendship that will remain a part of you for a lifetime.
Location: Lower Baxter
Colors: Red and White
Motto: "Know Thyself"
Sisters: The women of Gamma Delta
Founded in 1897, Gamma Nu bases its strength upon quality literary productions, brotherhood, organization and diverse social activities for all of Illinois College. The men in red and white continue to work hard together toward self-knowledge and self-development through the pursuit of literary and forensic activities. The Nuers, as they are affectionately referred to, consider their bonds of brotherhood to be the strongest among the societies.
Location: Beecher Hall, lower level
Colors: Blue and White
Motto: "Onward and Upward"
Phi Alpha Literary Society for men was founded in 1845. Today its meeting rooms are in lower Beecher Hall, the oldest college building in the state of Illinois. The men of Phi Alpha have a long-standing commitment to democratic principles, first evident in their spirited discussion of the slavery issue in the early years of the society. In 1881, Phi Alpha took the lead in organizing an interstate oratorical contest in the city of Jacksonville. Their victory of a debate team representing Knox College was the beginning of intercollegiate debate on the Hilltop. In recent years members of Phi Alpha have continued to distinguish themselves in service to our community and the nation.
Pi Pi Rho
Colors: Blue and Gold
Motto: "Scholarship, Fellowship, Athletics, and Sociability"
Sisters: The women of Chi Beta
Founded in 1929, Pi Pi Rho Literary Society has already accomplished much in its lifetime. From distinguished alumni to current students, Pi Pi Rho is heading for a bright future. Some of our alumni include the president of Western Illinois University, a writer, a playwright and musical composer and owners of a successful computer business in downtown Jacksonville. The name of the society is derived from the equation of the circle, 2piR. This typifies the lasting bond of brotherhood that is built through this wide range of activities: literary meetings, business meetings, athletic competition and informal gatherings. For the social atmosphere, the Rhoers gather with each other both at their hall and throughout the community to maintain the Fourth Pillar of their motto: Sociability.
Location: Beecher Hall, upper
Colors: Black and Gold
Motto: "Let there be light"
Sisters: The women of Sigma Phi Epsilon
On Saturday, June 24, 1843, Sigma Pi became not only the first literary society at Illinois College, but also one of the very first Greek organizations in the country. Sigma Pi has continued to thrive more than 170 years later.
Notable historic figures numbered among its membership include: William Jennings Bryan, three time presidential aspirant, and John Wesley Powell, first person to explore the Colorado River. Sigma Pi can claim distinguished alumni in every field of human endeavor from medicine to law to politics. These alumni are valuable assets to the current members as they continue to prove their loyalty through their support. For them, Sigma Pi creates a lasting connection to something bigger than all of us. It could do the same for you.
Alpha Phi Omega - National Service Fraternity
Chapter: Eta Sigma
Founded: December 16, 1925
Location: 1010 Edgehill Road
Colors: Royal Blue and Old Glory Gold
Cardinal Principles: Leadership, Friendship, Service
Alpha Phi Omega is a nationally recognized co-ed service fraternity founded by Frank Reed Horton, who based the organization on three cardinal principles: leadership, friendship and service. Eta Sigma members have continuously striven to better themselves and their community since May 13, 1949.