Hazing Was

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By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

This past year, several parents had to do an incredibly hard and unnecessary task. They did so with understandable pain, frustration, anger, and sadness. Life, the most beautiful gift bestowed upon us as a species, was taken from their children. Condolences were offered, prayers, and thoughts were sent, promises were made for action, results, solutions, and progress. Their children can’t be given back; the depthless void in their hearts cannot be filled.

So what can we do–we the concerned citizens who want to work against and eliminate hazing in the many areas of our society where it festers? The critics have a solution: abolish the groups they perceive as facilitating this toxic culture. Their solution is not to treat the patient but to eliminate the patient. While not the path of least resistance, it’s a course of action that wouldn’t be costly in terms of dollars for programming, staff, etc. Well-meaning critics say these organizational cultures are too far gone, too archaic, and too corrupted to be redeemed. In their view, there is no absolution available to the conditions where hazing occurs and even the thought of trying to fix the problems (problems that no one disagrees exist) is assumed to be an effort of foolishness to repair.

But I would respond that the argument holds no water.

Go to Wikipedia and in the search bar type in “Smallpox.”

Now read the first two words of that article.

Smallpox was.”

That’s right. A disease that took 300-500 million lives in the 20th century alone no longer exists. It was eradicated and the last known natural diagnosis of the disease was in 1977. The disease spanned continents and like most great, global tragedies it was ignorant of every demographic identifier. But the effort to eradicate smallpox was not brewed up in a single lab or funded by a single entity. It was a collaborative effort that, much like the disease, spanned continents and was ignorant of demographic identifiers. In fact the worldwide effort saw partnership between the two major Cold War powers.

Human civilization has solved complex social problems in the past, and it can do so again.

So is fixing the societal problem of hazing that insurmountable? The answer is no, it is not. It certainly is not an easy task but it is not impossible. The failure lies in an almost endemic lack of hope that the institutions that have stood for hundreds of years, and have adapted through several very large and serious social changes in our nation’s history, can continue to exist.

But where does one even begin? Much like the effort to eradicate smallpox, it begins with collaboration.

Unfortunately, there have been several communities – including higher education in some cases — that have taken unfair and unproductive steps by shutting out their own members during important discussions.

With regards specifically to our own community, we have witnessed fraternities and their host institution rise to the challenge when given the opportunity to collaborate together. A great example of this is Vanderbilt IFC’s recent Inclusivity Agreement and the formation of an in-house Greek Allies program.

No one is arguing that issues exist. The question being asked is whether these issues can be solved and who should be involved in doing so.

The Wikipedia article on hazing includes an unfortunate opening.

Hazing is.”

I’m ready to make the proposed edit: “Hazing was.”

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2015 College of Chapters Visits Lexington

College of Chapters attendees spent the morning taking guided tours of VMI and the Sigma Nu Headquarters Shrine. Here Roanoke, Va.-based photographer David Hungate follows a group of West Coast students visiting Lexington for the first time.

1. Attendees walk the 65 yards from the commemorative marker to the founding site on the VMI Parade Ground.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

2. College of Chapters attendees walk by VMI’s Preston Library.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

3. The VMI admissions office, formerly an early meeting place of Sigma Nu’s Alpha Chapter.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

4. Leadership Consultant Tyler Richter gives a tour of the founding marker on the VMI Parade Ground.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

5. Students walk from the founding location towards the Old Barracks where James Frank Hopkins lived as a cadet.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

6. One student touches a piece of the limestone outcropping that was moved from the VMI Parade Ground to the front of the Headquarters Shrine.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

7. Photographing The Rock.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

8. Touring the Sigma Nu Headquarters Museum.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

9. Leadership Consultant Travis Galloway guides a group through the Hall of Honor, the highest distinction that can be bestowed upon a brother in Sigma Nu based on service to the fraternity.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

10. The Commander’s throne in the Alpha Room at Headquarters.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

11. A line of the Creed on display above the entrance to the Honor Library.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

12. Regent Joe Francis offers remarks in VMI’s Jackson Memorial Hall.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

13. VMI’s Jackson Memorial Hall.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

Dr. William S. Spears Pledges $1.5 Million for Leadership Training Facilities

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Nearly 300 brothers of Epsilon Epsilon Chapter (Oklahoma State) stepped forward to match Dr. Spears’ $1.5M gift to build new leadership training facilities on the Headquarters property in Lexington.

Lexington, Va. – Sigma Nu Educational Foundation (SNEF) received a pledge of $1.5 million this week from Dr. William S. Spears (Oklahoma State) to build new leadership training facilities on the Sigma Nu Headquarters property. The Spears Family Epsilon Epsilon Center of Excellence will house classrooms, a climate-controlled archives room, and lodging for up to 75 for visiting chapters from around the country.

Dr.  Spears became inspired to make this gift after reflecting on the experiences he gained in his own chapter. “I feel indebted to Sigma Nu for the leadership capabilities I developed during my time with the chapter,” he said. “I believe my time with Epsilon Epsilon Chapter shaped me in ways that are still bearing fruit to this day.”

“The fraternity experience is important for our nation’s future,” he added.

In June of 2014, Dr. Spears challenged his fellow brothers of Epsilon Epsilon Chapter to match his gift of $1.5 million by November of this year. His Oklahoma State chapter brothers answered the call and raised the matching funds by the deadline. Nearly 300 brothers of Epsilon Epsilon Chapter stepped forward to contribute.

“It is our expectation that this challenge – this collaborative effort to support Sigma Nu – will be the spark that prompts brothers from other chapters to join what has become a growing coalition of alumni dedicated to making Sigma Nu the most formidable men’s fraternal organization in North America,” he said.

For Brother Bill, Sigma Nu was the bridge to adulthood. “It took me from the adolescent years to early manhood,” he says, “and the leadership skills I learned and developed through my fraternity experience have served me for more decades than I want to count.”

Dr. Spears also cited the important role his father and uncle played in encouraging him to join the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter at Oklahoma State. “They were exceptional role models for me,” he said. “This gift honors their memories and the Spears family overall.”

William Spears Portrait

Dr. William S. Spears: “The fraternity experience is important for our nation’s future.”

 

The founding principles of Sigma Nu are of particular importance to Brother Bill, as they align closely with the values his family taught him. “As the first Honor fraternity, Sigma Nu has a set of values that I embraced,” he continued. “They were the same values I was taught in my early years. So the gift honors both the fraternity and my family.”

Past Regent and SNEF chairman Joe Gilman (Morehead State/Georgia) is among the many longtime alumni volunteers to understand the significance of this pledged gift. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Brother Spears for his transformational gift supporting the ideal of ethical leadership,” said Gilman. “We are proud to have one of the most visited headquarters of all national fraternities,” Gilman continued. “This gift will enhance the experience of tens of thousands of collegiate and alumni brothers who will visit the Headquarters Shrine for decades to come.”

“In recent years we have witnessed a positive trend of local chapters forging stronger partnerships with the General Fraternity,” Gilman observed. This relationship with Lexington has long been a priority for Brother Bill and the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, as illustrated by the chapter’s annual bus trip to visit VMI and the Headquarters Shrine. “Knowing the ties our chapter has to Lexington,” Brother Bill said, “the annual trip serves to ensure that Epsilon Epsilon is always tightly connected to its Sigma Nu roots.”

Neil Gilpin, longtime advisor for the Epsilon Epsilon chapter, was also quick to recognize the impact this investment will have on the fraternity’s budding leaders. “This will be a place where brothers will learn and develop the skills to become ethical leaders and embrace the ideals of Sigma Nu while at the birthplace of our great fraternity,” he said. Gilpin also reiterated Dr. Spears’ goal for this matching gift to spur other chapters to host similar fundraising competitions that support programs and scholarships coordinated through the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation.

“This kind of engagement simply confirms what I believe about the lasting positive influence that a fraternity provides,” Dr. Spears added. “Our members are truly part of a brotherhood: these gifts are tangible evidence that brotherhood lasts.”

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Winter Break Checklist

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Taking the steps to prepare your chapter’s home for winter break can save time and money down the road. Photo by Luke Graap (Southern Poly)

Editor’s note: This article was written by Sigma Nu’s insurance provider, Willis. Similar articles and additional information can be found on the company’s website. Further discussion on winterizing your chapter’s housing facility can be found here

It’s time to make sure that Greek undergraduate leaders, chapter advisors, and alumni ready their chapter facilities for the colder months and winter break. This winter break checklist was developed as a premise risk management tool to assist chapters in preparing for the coming break period.

  • Complete routine maintenance on furnace or boiler
  • Ensure furnace is on and thermostat is set at or above 60 degrees
  • Ensure all hoses are removed from exterior water spigots
  • Drain water lines in lawn sprinkler system where appropriate
  • In extreme cold weather, open the indoor faucets slightly to allow water to trickle, as moving water does not freeze as easily
  • Leave the doors to cabinets that contain water lines open, this will allow heat to enter the area
  • Inspect all rooms
  • Ensure all non-essential appliances and electronics have been unplugged
  • Caretaker selected or hired to complete daily inspections:
    • Daily walk-through to confirm no loss has occurred
    • Ensure furnace is operating
    • Ensure premise is secure
    • Remove any snow, ice, or debris which may create hazard
  • Caretaker is provided with:
    • A master key that should allow access to all areas of the house including individual rooms
    • Alumni house corporation contact information
    • Emergency response contact
    • Emergency repair company options
    • Insurance claim reporting information
  • Secure chapter house and lock all valuables
  • Contact the local police department or campus security to check on the chapter house periodically
  • Thoroughly clean chapter house prior to extended break
  • Confirm that heat registers are not blocked and combustible materials are safely stored, not next to or in the same room as the hot water heater and HVAC system
  • Remove all perishable food
  • Lock and inspect all windows and repair all broken glass
  • Ensure that exterior doors are well insulated, closed, and latched completely
  • Inspect the hot water heater and exposed water lines and drain pipes for slow leaks
  • Attach and secure downspouts with extension from foundation to prevent water damage, ensuring that they fully displace water away from foundation and other walking areas without draining onto the driveway, sidewalks, or patios
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper roof drainage, improper roof drainage can cause ice damming to occur, which can cause interior water damage
  • Clean exterior of chapter house, removing any yard debris or materials that could be used to start a fire, as well as any items stored next to the chapter house, debris can provide an opportunity for an arsonist
  • Check security and safety lighting
  • Service and clean fireplace and chimney and check for defects or debris
  • Check tenants rooms for the following:
    • Unnecessary damage, any damage discovered should be documented
    • Unplug all nonessential appliances and electrical devices
    • Ensure heat registers are not blocked by personal belongings
    • Lock room door for security

For further information or questions regarding risk prevention and educational resources or materials, please visit www.WillisFraternity.com.

CU Boulder Jan 2013 (copy)

The Gamma Kappa (Colorado) chapter home. 

Alabama Governor Issues Proclamation Honoring Sigma Nu Fraternity

Jacksonville State University, where tonight a proclamation will be presented declaring January 1, 2015, as "Sigma Nu Day" in the state of Alabama. Photo by flickr user Jay Williams.

Jacksonville State University, where tonight a proclamation will be presented declaring January 1, 2015, as “Sigma Nu Day” in the state of Alabama. Photo by flickr user Jay Williams.

Jacksonville, Ala. – Alabama House Representative K.L. Brown will read a proclamation this evening recognizing the chapters of Sigma Nu Fraternity in the state of Alabama. The proclamation, signed by Governor Robert Bentley, will recognize the historic men’s fraternal organization as the only such group founded in direct opposition to hazing and rooted in the honor principle.

Earlier this year Governor Bentley signed the proclamation declaring January 1 as “Sigma Nu Day” in Alabama.

The proclamation will be presented during a ceremony at 7:00 p.m. CT this evening on the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library on the Jacksonville State University campus.

Rep. Brown will be joined by national alumni leadership from Sigma Nu Fraternity, including Sigma Nu Educational Foundation (SNEF) board member Ralph Moore, past Sigma Nu Fraternity board member Austin Landry of Birmingham, and SNEF chairman Joe Gilman of Atlanta. Mr. Gilman is also a past national president of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Dr. William A Meehan, president of Jacksonville State University, is also expected to attend.

The story behind the proclamation is a testament to the strong student leadership that has come to define Sigma Nu Fraternity. Kenneth Smith, a political science major and member of the Sigma Nu chapter at Jacksonville State, originally proposed the idea to Rep. Brown. “I wanted to do something different to celebrate Sigma Nu and our Founders’ Day for 2015,” Kenneth said. “With everything going on in higher education right now I know elected officials and other public servants like to hear from younger college students.”

“This proclamation reaffirms the ideals Sigma Nu stands for at the campuses where we have chapters and in the communities where our alumni live,” Kenneth continued. “To some this might seem like merely words on a paper. But I’m glad I get to live out these high ideals and hold this brotherhood close to my heart.”

The signed proclamation, included below, will be framed and displayed at the Sigma Nu Fraternity national headquarters office in Lexington, Va.

Commendation 

By the Governor of Alabama 

WHEREAS, since its founding on January 1, 1869, at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, the Sigma Nu Fraternity has been a pioneer in the fraternal world; and

WHEREAS, Sigma Nu currently has 172 active chapter and colonies on college campuses throughout the United States and Canada. Sigma Nu has initiated more than 230,000 members since its founding; and

WHEREAS, active Sigma Nu chapters in Alabama are located at Jacksonville State University, University of Alabama, Auburn University, Samford University, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Birmingham-Southern College and Huntingdon College; and

WHEREAS, originally founded and known to this day as The Legion of Honor, Sigma Nu is the only social fraternity in existence founded in firm opposition to hazing and based on the principal of honor; and

 WHEREAS, Sigma Nu is the first general college fraternity to offer risk reduction policies and a comprehensive membership education program, remaining committed to both their mission and vision for more than 140 years; and

WHEREAS, the mission of Sigma Nu is to develop ethical leaders inspired by the principles of love, honor and truth, to foster the personal growth of each man’s mind heart and character and to perpetuate lifelong friendships and commitment to the fraternity; and

WHEREAS, Sigma Nu’s organizational structures and internal operations provide for the effective deployment of resources to deliver an unmatched level of service to its constituents; and

 WHEREAS, Sigma Nu is continually increasing its membership and capabilities as it creates and capitalizes on new markets and opportunities that support the fraternity’s mission; and

 WHEREAS, Sigma Nu enhances the experience of its members and builds a sense of community in a way that generates a desire to invest time, talent and treasure in the development of both the organization and its future members which is recognized by all as a contribution to the greater good:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert Bentley, Governor of Alabama, do hereby commend the Sigma Nu Fraternity upon its 146th Anniversary on January 1, 2015. 

Given Under My Hand and the Great Seal of the Office of the Governor at the State Capitol in the City of Montgomery on the 20th day of November 2014.

JSU at the Rock

Brothers of Iota Lambda Chapter (Jacksonville State) during a visit to the Headquarters Shrine earlier this year.

 

Innovative LEAD Ideas (Part 2)

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By Scott Smith (Central Arkansas)

In part one of our series about innovative LEAD ideas, we discussed many specific sessions of the four phases of LEAD and All Chapter. In part two, we will focus on how LEAD can fit into other activities of the chapter. Most notably in recruitment, socials, and other special occasions.

Recruitment

LEAD can be used to help the chapter spread its name on campus, introduce other students to something unique about the chapter, and seal the deal with prospects by targeting specific sessions to a diverse audience.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to invite potential members to participate in one or more Phase I sessions with current candidates. This could also be done by hosting one or more sessions (from any phase) in a dorm or in some other centrally located building on campus. Invite residents and guests to attend by posting flyers to announce the session. Use a sign-in sheet and add attendees to the chapter’s Master Prospect List once they have arrived. Make an announcement at the beginning or end of the session explaining the LEAD Program and the role it plays in Sigma Nu.

Suggested sessions include: Time Management, Stress Management, Scholarship, and Campus Involvement, among others. The chapter could also partner with the campus recreation center to host a men’s wellness program that doubles as a recruitment event.

Getting Social

Dinner at Delta Gamma

Etiquette dinners: a long-standing tradition.

One of the best ways to increase interest in LEAD is to incorporate it into a date party, mixer, or semi-formal event. There are several different sessions that this can be accomplished with and it needs only a little creativity.

The All Chapter LEAD session on Etiquette can easily be used as a formal dinner. Have members grab a date, get dressed up, and head to a fancy restaurant to learn proper behavior for a business dinner. Prearrange with a house mother, business professional, or older chapter brother (or sorority member) to serve as the dinner’s host and facilitator.

In addition to using the Etiquette session as a mixer, the chapter could also use the Networking session to host the chapter’s seniors (or the entire membership) and the seniors of a sorority.

Brothers and seniors don’t have to be the only beneficiaries of socials using LEAD. The chapter’s candidates could use Phase I: Session 6: Values and Ethics for a combined session on fraternal values and employing those values to make good decisions. Invite a sorority’s new member class and conclude the session with a social activity.

Chapter Retreats, Alumni and Special Events

It can be helpful to take some time away from campus to increase brotherhood or address a specific issue. There are at least two LEAD sessions that work well with a retreat option: Phase I Session 3: Leadership & Working in Groups and Phase II Session 6: Teams and Decision Making.

Brotherhood Retreat_Delta Rho_Michael Psaltis_Winter 2014

Delta Rho (Colorado State) on their brotherhood retreat in 2013.

Other occasions may call for sessions that serve an immediate application. For new officer training, the chapter may wish to use the Delegation and Officer Transition sessions which can serve as standard parts of the training process for new officers and committee chairmen. Also, the chapter may use the Goal Setting, Strategic Planning, and two Pursuit of Excellence Program sessions (Strategy, Self-Assessment) when planning and assessment are needed.

Chapters are often looking for ways to improve their  brotherhood. LEAD sessions to cover this area could include the All Chapter sessions on Diversity and Accountability.

It is always a good idea to invite alumni to speak to the chapter. For junior and senior level brothers, alumni could potentially facilitate Negotiating Salary Offers, Managing Money After Graduation or an alumni panel could talk about Success Tips for the First Year on the Job. Any of these sessions would make for a great Friday evening or Saturday morning addition to your chapter’s alumni, parents or homecoming weekends.

Also, Module C of All Chapter LEAD, which features several risk reduction topics, would be ideal for an alumni panel of doctors, lawyers or police officers.

LEAD Days have become an increasingly popular idea that chapters are using to maximize participation and guest facilitators. Arrange to hold multiple sessions from one or more phases and invite nearby Sigma Nu chapters to participate. Cap off the day with a brotherhood event.

Putting It All Together

LEAD shouldn’t be just one more thing to add to your chapter’s calendar and list of responsibilities. In addition to making your members and chapter better, LEAD should be a good time. Whenever possible the chapter should take advantage of opportunities to incorporate LEAD into existing events and plans; vice versa, don’t be afraid to add a social, brotherhood, operational, or recruitment element into LEAD.

More ideas for combining sessions with other events, saving time, and addressing specific chapter issues can be found here as part of the LEAD myths & misconceptions blog series. Have other ideas for innovative ways to implement the LEAD Program? Let us know in the comments.

Winterizing Your Chapter Home

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Answering the questions below will allow your chapter to keep your chapter safe during break periods. Photo by Jake Kennedy (Sewanee)

 

Editor’s note: This article was written by Sigma Nu’s insurance provider, Willis. Similar articles and additional information can be found on the company’s website

Freeze claims each year cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These losses predominantly occur over the break periods when there is limited daily oversight of the facility further exacerbating the costs. During the winter of 2013-2014, $2.7 million was paid for water damage resulting from frozen pipes that burst in the FPMA property program.

Over 90% of the losses occurred over the three week traditional winter break period. And these issues are not only important in colder climates. In another instance, the heat was turned off in a chapter house located in a part of the country where the weather does not typically dip below the freezing mark. Unfortunately for this chapter, the weather became unusually cold, leading to frozen pipes and water damage. There was no insurance coverage for this claim, as the owners failed to maintain heat in the building.

What are the risks?

  • Chapter members turning off the heat thinking they would save some money.
  • The pilot light on the furnace blowing out.
  • Windows and doors not closed properly.
  • The chapter house not securely locked making it an attractive target to vandals and thieves.
  • No one in charge of checking on the house over the holiday breaks.

No one got hurt, what is the problem?

  • Chapter members return from Thanksgiving or Winter break to a mess, or worse yet, no place to live because of the significant extent of damage.
  • A significant deductible is incurred, causing further strain to an already stretched budget.
  • Property premiums increase, because of these claims, which every member helps to pay.

How do we prevent this from happening?

  • Turn the heat down to no less than 60 degrees, don’t turn the heat off!
  • Have a house corporation officer or undergraduate member stop by the house daily to make certain the house is secure, there has not been a loss and the heat is working!
  • Spend a little money to save a lot of money not to mention avoid a hassle!
  • Have the furnace or boiler serviced this fall.
  • Fix all broken windows.
  • If a local undergraduate or alumnus can’t be counted on to check on the house, hire someone to do it for you over the break.
  • Call your heating contractor immediately if there is a problem with the furnace and take immediate action to prevent further damage.
  • Consider installing a water detection system like PipeBurst Pro. The system monitors your pressurized water lines for unintended water flow of your plumbing system and fixtures. The device may be set with flow restrictions for automatic water shut off or alert an authorized user allowing water shut off from a remote location. The system also monitors water temperature to provide freeze warnings. If you are interested in the 5% property premium discount you would receive for installing this system, contact Rob Meraz at rmeraz@willis.com.
  • It is important to also be aware of your outside property. To help reduce the risk of injuries of members, guests, or other people just passing by your house, make sure that snow is removed and ice is treated in a timely fashion.

Following these steps will allow you to protect your chapter facility during break periods. Additional resources, including a complete Winter Break Checklist, can be found on our website,
http://www.WillisFraternity.com.

Delta Xi_Ming Chung

Ming Chung (Nevada)

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