Following the sale of their fraternity house, the alumni of the former Sigma Alpha Mu at the University of Washington have decided to financially support the Jewish Campus Service Corps (JCSC) position at Hillel at the University of Washington.
The JCSC outreach program is designed to encourage Jewish students who attend the University to be active in Jewish life. The funding of the JCSC position allows the former Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity to continue its presence on campus while supporting Hillel’s objective of providing an environment where Jews can be Jewish with other Jews.
Sigma Alpha Mu was a fraternity that was active at the University of Washington until 1985. According to the Sigma Alpha Mu International Web site, “Sigma Alpha Mu has always acknowledged with deep appreciation its Jewish heritage and the ethical values of Judaism which have enriched its life and the lives of its members.” After the fraternity became inactive, they began to rent out their building. When the alumni sold the property, they decided to support Hillel’s efforts with the proceeds from the sale.
The former University of Washington chapter wanted to supplant the void they creating after their fraternity became inactive. By funding the JCSC fellow, the alumni of Sigma Alpha Mu can help establish volunteer and leadership opportunities that their fraternity once provided. Through this sponsorship, both Hillel and Sigma Alpha Mu can contribute to the Jewish campus life at the University of Washington.
Meredith Sloane, the current JCSC fellow at the University of Washington, encourages Judaism in different ways that appeal to a vast group of Jewish students. She meets Jewish students by creating interesting and educational programming in their environment.
Some examples of the programs she has implemented are a Tu B’Shevat tree planting on campus, “Regressive Dinner on the Ave.” and “What’s Your Sign.” At the regressive dinner, newer Jewish students familiarized themselves with the University District by going to dinner starting with dessert first. “What’s Your Sign” allowed students to learn their celestial sign based on the Jewish calendar.
In addition Sloane provides an environment in which interested students, especially freshmen at the University of Washington, can plan their own programs. All in all, Sloane creates programs that would interest a diverse group of students. As Sloane puts it, “I try to make Judaism part of public culture.”