Sigma Phi Omega
SPO Crest.jpg
Founded1949; 73 years ago (1949)
University of Southern California
MottoThe Reward is in the Doing
Colors  Kelly Green   Maize Yellow
SymbolWhite Dove
FlowerYellow Rose
PillarsStrength and Character
WebsiteOfficial website

Sigma Phi Omega (ΣΦΩ), also known as Sigmas, is an Asian American interest sorority founded at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California



Sigma Phi Omega was founded at the University of Southern California in 1949, and is the oldest Asian American sorority at USC and UT Austin and third oldest Asian sorority in the United States. It was originally established as a social organization for Japanese and Japanese American women at USC and has since then come to consist of a diverse membership of women hailing from numerous racial and cultural backgrounds.[1]

Early years

At its beginning, the founding mothers of Sigma Phi Omega were invited by Chi Alpha Delta, an Asian-American sorority from UCLA, to become one of their chapters. Chi Alpha Delta had been chartered in 1928 at UCLA, but was rendered inactive between 1942 and 1945 because the majority of its members were unable to attend UCLA due to World War II. After the end of the war, the sorority was reorganized in 1946.

However, the founding mothers decided to start their own organization. The Greek letters were chosen at random and were not used by any other existing College fraternities or sororities at that time. The Greek letters were, however, being used by a national high school fraternity. Although the Sigmas did not originate as a sorority, one could speculate that the choosing of Greek letters was a public way of voicing an unsatisfactory opinion about the treatment of Asian Americans, specifically Japanese Americans, by the campus and Greek organizations.[1]

Founding Mothers

  • Miki Haga
  • Joyce Ishibashi Tawa
  • Ida Kado Watanabe
  • Kazuko Kay Matsumoto
  • Helen Morita Matsunaga
  • Mitzi Okamoto
  • Cherry Okimoto
  • Thelma Sasada
  • Akiko Sato Miyamoto
  • Edna Tanaka
  • Helen Taniguchi Wakamatsu
  • Miki Tanimoto
  • Dottie Uno
  • Julia Uriu
  • Grace Wada Iino
  • Betty Wakamatsu
  • Chiyoe Yata Oki [1]


Sigma Phi Omega has chosen domestic violence awareness and prevention & Sexual Assault Awareness as its National Philanthropy. During the month of April each year, the chapters organize a week filled with seminars and fundraising events to bring awareness to their communities. Equally, throughout the month of October each year, all chapters of Sigma Phi Omega Sorority, Inc. organize a "SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) WEEK" filled with seminars and discussions about domestic violence and fundraising events. Sigma Phi Omega works to educate college campuses and surrounding communities, specifically reaching out to Asian and Asian American women, in an effort to stop domestic violence and to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses.

While raising domestic violence awareness is Sigmas' main philanthropy, the chapters also sponsors and participate in AIDS walks, Habitat for Humanity, Canning for Hunger, Girls Inc., various shelters, clean cities programs, and more.

Many members of Sigma Phi Omega are also individually involved within their own community through tutoring and mentoring programs for the disadvantaged and younger students, as well as through various volunteering programs.

Service is one of the main pillars within the sisterhood of Sigma Phi Omega. By it they explain their pride in serving their communities and are inspired to contribute to make a difference in each other's lives and the lives of others.[2]


Sigma Phi Omega has installed nine chapters located in California and Texas, nine of which are active. Active chapter noted in bold, inactive chapters noted in italics.[3][4]

Chapter Status Installed Date and Range City State University Reference
Alpha (Ά) Inactive 1949 Los Angeles CA University of Southern California [5]
Beta (Β) Active 1973 Long Beach CA California State University, Long Beach
Gamma (Γ) Active May 1, 1991 Austin TX University of Texas
Delta (Δ) Active December 18, 1991 San Diego CA San Diego State University
Epsilon (Ε) Active April 21, 1995 Houston TX University of Houston
Zeta (Ζ) Active April 5, 1997 Berkeley CA University of California, Berkeley
Eta (Η) Inactive May 1, 1999–20xx ? Waco TX Baylor University
Theta (Θ) Inactive May 20, 2005–202x ? University Park (Dallas) TX Southern Methodist University
Iota (Ι) Active May 2, 2009 College Station TX Texas A&M University
Kappa (Κ) Active December 8, 2013 Richardson TX University of Texas at Dallas


There are annual conventions held each summer as well as Mid-year Retreat, where sisters from different chapters gather to bring orders of business as well as bond. These conventions and retreats are hosted by the chapters in rotations.


Cousin fraternity (Texas):


  1. ^ a b c According to Sigma Phi Gamma's official website, "About Us" page, accessed 5 Aug 2021.
  2. ^ According to Sigma Phi Gamma's official website, "Philanthropy" page, accessed 5 Aug 2021.
  3. ^ William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive)". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 5 Aug 2021. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  4. ^ Chapter list from Sigma Phi Gamma's official website, "Chapters" page, accessed 5 Aug 2021.
  5. ^ The Alpha chapter maintains a website, as do most of the other chapters. Accessed 5 Aug 2021.