In the early 1990s with the closing of a national Jewish sorority, the University of California, Davis was left without a Jewish women's social organization. Several women on campus noticed the gap left by the absence of the former sorority and strategized starting an organization on campus that would fill the need. Members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a national Jewish fraternity, also urged the women of Davis to start a Jewish women's social organization of their own. With positive response from the campus Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi was formed.
The "Sigma" is meant to represent "sisters of" in honor of Alpha Epsilon Pi's contributions towards the formation of the sorority. Sigma is also the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet; in Jewish tradition, the number 18 means chai (life).
The six women who founded the sorority—Alycia Seaman, Erin Glick, Leah Dansker, Rachel Rothfarb, Erin Barker, and Dana Miller—are considered the eternal mothers of the sorority.
"The purpose of this organization shall be to promote unity, support, and a Jewish awareness, as well as to provide a Jewish experience for ourselves, our members, and the community as a whole. This organization is devoted to friendship, motivation, opportunity, leadership, and well-being."
The first season of MTV’s Sorority Life was filmed in the spring of 2002 on the UC Davis campus featuring members and pledges of ΣΑΕΠ. Through the airing of the show, ΣΑΕΠ began to expand across the country.
A national board was started in the summer of 2002 to oversee the expansion and growth of ΣΑΕΠ as a nationwide sorority. Currently, there are seven alumnae from different chapters voluntarily serving as the directors on the National Board.
In early 2017, the National Board voted to restructure in order to consolidate operational functions into the Executive Office, maintaining the National Board for governance, strategic planning, and oversight.
2017-2018 National Board members are:
At the 2008 national convention, Cancer Schmancer was selected as the sorority's national philanthropy.
In 2011 the National Board re-evaluated the national philanthropy and decided to move on to an organization that encompasses all of the philosophies of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi. American Jewish World Service was chosen. In addition to the national philanthropy, some chapters also support local philanthropies.
|Charter||1998||University of California, Davis||Davis, California||Active|
|Alpha||2003||Arizona State University||Tempe, Arizona||Inactive||As of 2005|
|Beta||2003||University of Minnesota||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Inactive||As of 2008|||
|Gamma||2003||University of California, Riverside||Riverside, California||Inactive||As of 2006|
|Delta||2005||University of California, Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz, California||Active|
|Epsilon||2005||University of Oregon||Eugene, Oregon||Inactive||As of 2005|
|Zeta||2005||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Virginia||Inactive||As of 2011|
|Eta||2008||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, California||Active|
|Theta||2008||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti, Michigan||Inactive||As of 2011|
|Iota||2009||University of Maryland, Baltimore County||Baltimore, Maryland||Inactive||As of 2014|
|Lambda||2010||University of Missouri||Columbia, Missouri||Active|||
|Mu||2010||James Madison University||Harrisonburg, Virginia||Active|
|Nu||2011||University of California, Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, California||Active|
|Xi||2013||Binghamton University||Binghamton, New York||Active|
|Omicron||2014||California State University, Northridge||Northridge, California||Active|
|Pi||2015||University of Nevada, Reno||Reno, Nevada||Active|
|Rho||2017||Rutgers University||New Brunswick, New Jersey||Active|
|Tau||2017||Colorado State University||Fort Collins, Colorado||Active|