Sigma Delta Chi
Initiation Ritual


Announcement of Purpose
The Chapter being disposed as ordered, the Editor shall announce the purpose as follows: The Chapter is in special session to complete the admission to our society of new members who are presented to us as qualified by character, purpose and experience to share our endeavors. I adjure you, during the time the candidates shall be under examination and instruction, to maintain the utmost sobriety of conduct and attentiveness of mind, that your presence may reflect for them the significant character of the undertaking they assume.
The Editor raps thrice, and in response, the Guide standing outside the door with the candidates, raps for admittance.
The Editor (or Messenger) responds to the raps and says: Who stands at the door of our Chapter hall?
Guide: A member of the Fraternity, accompanied by candidates for admission to Sigma Delta Chi.
Editor (or Messenger): What moves them to seek our companionship?
Guide: The belief that our ideals are theirs, our purpose their purpose; and a desire to share with us the pursuit of them.
Editor (or Messenger): Enter, and present the candidates.
All present immediately rise and remain standing until the candidates arrive before the Editor, when all resume their seats. The Guide shall conduct the candidates to the altar of the Editor, arrange them in line, and take his position at the right flank and slightly in front of the line.
Guide: I am authorized to present to the Editor of this Chapter give name or names who desire to enter our membership, who have pledged themselves to an understanding of our purposes, and whose applications are approved.
Editor: Who of this Chapter especially recommends these candidates and vouches for their fellowship with the ideals of Sigma Delta Chi?
Members who first presented the various candidates' names to the Chapter rise, face directly toward the Editor, and say, in agreed succession:
Member: I made known to the Chapter the character and aspiration of Candidate … name and here vouch for his worthiness for election and for his readiness to share our efforts.
The Member resumes his seat.
Editor: You have signified your fellowship with the aspirations of this Fraternity; your presence here is evidence of the sincerity of your wish. I impress on you the deep and solemn significance of a moment in which you make a decision affecting your whole career. It may not mean less to you, else you have no share in our purposes. It cannot mean too much, for the only boundary of ambitions of Sigma Delta Chi is the highest Standard of personal and professional character to which human nature may attain. In the formation, encouragement and fruition of professional character our purpose is expressed. Its elements are simple, easy to learn, difficult to forget. These elements are disclosed to you by the officers entrusted with your instruction. These elements are not secret, except in the sense that they are so intimately a part of the Spirit, that any true adherent to them will envelop them in privacy to protect them from the profane and disinterested.
They are secret only in the sense that all high and noble aspirations are a mystery to those who are incapable of comprehending them. Believing your intention steadfast, your heart and mind fixed on the goal we are seeking, I am prepared to administer to you the oath of fidelity and allegiance.
Are you prepared and willing to take this oath?
The Editor shall put this question to all candidates simultaneously, and shall administer the oath to all candidates at one time.
Candidate: I am.
Editor (addressing the Chapter): The Chapter will rise.
The Chapter rises and remains standing until the oath has been administered.
Editor: In token of your sincerity, I ask you to raise your right hand and repeat after me, so that all present may hear: I, … candidates give full names, having signified my desire to become a member of this Fraternity, / do hereby promise / on the honor I bear myself as a gentleman, / and on the love I bear my family and my friends, / never to betray the ideals of Sigma Delta Chi. / I do solemnly pledge myself to do all in my power / to contribute personal service to fellow professionals / whether of the Fraternity or not, / and so endeavor to infuse the profession / with the ideals of Sigma Delta Chi.
All this I promise and pledge myself to perform / before God and these witnesses.
Editor to the Chapter: Brothers, you have heard the oath?
Members all give gesture of assent. The last candidate having been so heard, the members resume their seat.
Editor, addressing Candidates: Now shall be revealed to you the meaning of our symbolism.
To each of the three officiating members is entrusted one of the three lessons which, together, comprise our philosophy. On this foundation we raise the edifice of our profession. Once heard, they should never be forgotten by you; without them as the basis of your effort, the Fraternity f or you f ails of its purpose.
Addressing the Guide: Guide, conduct the candidates to the altars of symbolism.
The Guide shall conduct the candidates to the altar of Sophia.
Sigma, addressing Candidates: The first of the three letters denoting the name of the Fraternity is Sigma. Its meaning, Sophia. On this altar, dedicated to Talent, burns the lamp of Genius. It is the sacred, inextinguishable flame intrusted to us; ours is the duty and privilege to see that it never diminishes to dimness, that it burns clear and ever clearer by the cultivation, within us, of the Talent we possess. Great men have served this lamp. History records their testaments to civilization. Their lives are chapters in the immortal story of human progress, and no one who is worthy is willing to live his life without holding aloft, proudly, the lamp of consecration. As this flame —, so our lives; as we preserve it, so is our  memory preserved through our service to our fellow men. Society builds ever on its past. We accept the genius of the centuries and on their gifts develop our own. So the flame, when we depart, will be the lantern by which men light their lives and scan the script of their faith.
Do you accept what you have heard as a necessary part of the code by which you shall pursue your profession?
Candidates: I do.
Sigma, addressing Guide: The lesson is complete. Conduct the candidates to the second altar.
Guide shall conduct the candidates to the altar of Dynamis.
Guide, addressing Delta: I am commanded to present to you these candidates who seek our companionship. They desire to be instructed by you in that part of our endeavors which is in your keeping.
Delta, addressing Candidates: You have been taught that the first symbolic letter of the Fraternity signifies Talent. The second symbol is Delta, its meaning, Dynamis. On this altar, dedicated to Energy, rests the Quill of Endeavor. Genius inspires works, but effort completes them. Genius is the inborn gift, Energy the will-power which translates that gift into achievement. Genius is the seed, but the full flower of its blooming comes only by painstaking cultivation. Talent left to rot into idleness is worse than folly, because folly sometimes can plead ignorance, but Talent is conscious of its treason. Those who have made their careers the monuments of progress in journalism brought not only Genius but Labor, the capacity for taking pains, and the willingness to earn the fruits of their profession through toil. The farther along the road your Genius carries you, the greater will be the impulse to Labor. Genius and Labor are familiar journeymen who challenge each other. Genius has this magnificent advantage: that no matter how Labor gains confidence, Genius remains the stronger. Labor never conquers Genius, but remains ever the friend and servant, the critic and goad of inspiration. Genius is given to you; Energy you yourself must contribute.
Do you accept what you have heard as a necessary part of the code by which you shall accomplish your profession?
Candidates: I do.
Delta, to Guide: The lesson is complete. Conduct the candidates to the third altar.
The Guide shall conduct the candidates to the altar of Chaios.
Guide, addressing Chi: I am commanded to present to you these candidates who seek our companionship. They wish to be instructed by you in that lesson of our endeavors which is in your keeping.
Chi, addressing Candidates: The third symbol is the Greek Chi. Its meaning, Chaios. This altar is dedicated to Truth; upon it rest the Scales of Justice. On the one side lies the sombre weight of unworthy publicity; on the other side the illuminating power of upright journalism. Genius is the gift; Energy the means; Truth the goal. Truth consecrates the others. Truth, by spiritual alchemy, transmutes the elements of your character and profession into the pure gold of service. Truth is the only justification of the profession. Without it, journalism ceases to serve; becomes the slave of selfishness and mischief. Truth, now and eternal, is the endless quest of mankind; the supreme mission of the profession is to search it out, led by Genius, strengthened by Energy, until Truth is discovered and bestowed—your gift—the benediction of your calling, on the world. Sigma warned against the decay of Talent; Delta urged the cultivation of your Energies; Chi pleads with those who are of its fellowship to recognize no single divergence from the pursuit of Truth; to know equivelse, no reservation, no subterfuge, no compromise. Truth is the end and aim; Chaios is its altar; its high priest and custodian is yourself. It is the supreme sustaining force by which men live and die and create the heritage of progress for those who follow after. It comprises your single duty.
Do you accept what you have been told as a necessary part of your code, and the fruit of your profession?
Candidates: I do.
Chi, to Guide: The lesson is complete. So report.
The Guide shall conduct the candidates before the Editor.
Guide, addressing the Editor: The candidates have heard attentively the lessons of our Fraternity.
Editor: I speak now to all loyal members of Sigma Delta Chi, no less to these, your companions, than to you who are now one with us. I speak in the name of Sigma Delta Chi.
It is not without significance to us that you have sought and gained admittance to the Fraternity. The sentences you have heard echo in the hearts of all of us. We discover there the refreshment of our own pledges, and are moved to consider whether we have realized fully the promise we conceived.
Turning to, and addressing the undergraduate candidates, the Editor continues: We see ourselves again in you. You are the measure of our growth or of our failure. It is of the very first importance that the ideals of Sigma Delta Chi should not be the solitary board of any individual; they bloom most readily by diffusion; they must be found alert and prospering in the breast of every member. The strength of the Fraternity lies in community of aspiration, to which each new member adds the strength of his efforts.
If there be candidates for professional membership, the Editor now turns to and addresses them. thus: The history of journalism is an ever-continuing narrative in which men pass but purpose endures. Experience makes gifts to youth, and youth renews the energy of experience. If we are thought to honor you by adding your notable career to that inheritance which Sigma Delta Chi claims for the profession of journalism, you, by that token, already have honored the profession you serve and represent, in the character you contribute to it. We merely add the symbol of our grateful acknowledgment to something already existing, for to the extent that you have built into the profession those things which we have declared to be the elements of our faith, you are and have been a spiritual member of this Fraternity. In you we perceive something of the pattern of our ideals; rejoice that this common vision enables us to blend that which has been accomplished with those things we desire and hope to achieve.
Addressing now all candidates, the Editor continues: Selfishness has no part in our ambitions. We strive first to bring to journalism a definition of service worthy of a great and honorable profession; then we endeavor to translate that definition into a fact by devoting each of us his best, to the task. Great truths are always simple, and true wit is the capacity for stating the truth in an unforgettable phrase. The great truth we cherish is so simple it needs no, exposition by me. You have heard the whole of it. It is your individual responsibility to your profession.
We welcome your fraternal association with those who seek modestly but with faith, to perpetuate a profession based on freedom to learn and publish the facts; that believes in publicity as the forerunner of justice; that is as jealous of the right to utter unpopular opinions as of the privilege to agree with the majority; that regards itself as the interpreter of today's events and the mirror of tomorrow's expectations; that ascribes motives only when motives go to the heart of the issue; and, finally, that lays its own claim to service on a vigilance that knows no midnight and a courage that knows no retreat. Democracy needs both a sentinel and a champion, and the weapon of the first is broad sympathy and of the second a trenchant phrase. We urge you to assist in the realization of these purposes and these ideals.
Here we plan the direction of the character we hope to build, and scan the monuments of our predecessors for encouragement and example. That which we make of our character is all we can contribute to the profession, all we can either take from or add to the Fraternity.
To this we rededicate ourselves with you.
Editor and all present shall rise.
Editor: I ask from all members here present the renewal of their own efforts and the pledge thereto.
Brothers, has Sigma Delta Chi still your service, your devotion and your aspiration?
The members shall make the gesture of assent,
The Editor shall rap adjournment.