Why Sigma Nu’s Mission Matters

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By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

The news in recent weeks has been filled with stories of corruption, deception, and all manner of unethical behavior.

Last month facts came to light that required officials at some of the world’s top financial institutions to admit to conspiring to manipulate currencies.

More recently we learned of the widespread corruption scandal within the governing body of soccer in which top officials were arrested on charges of accepting bribes in the hundreds of millions. One official now stands accused of diverting funds that were intended for earthquake relief in Haiti. These accusations underscore the far more troubling stories about the deplorable conditions of migrant workers building the stadiums and infrastructure that will service the Qatar World Cup – the legitimacy of which is now seriously in question.

These two scandals are only the most recent examples that point towards a troubling void in ethical leadership within some our most prized and important institutions.

The habits that facilitate this sort of corrupt behavior are sowed early in our development as leaders. Those who have never been trained to identify unethical behavior – or those who lack the courage to confront it – will crumble when thrust into these situations in the real world. As we’ve seen, the world is in desperate need of leaders trained to identify these scenarios and prepared to act courageously when necessary. Our world and society needs ethical leaders. We need men who firmly understand and embrace this concept.

This is precisely what we’re doing at Sigma Nu.

Our world and society needs ethical leaders. We need men who firmly understand and embrace this concept.

Sigma Nu’s mission statement reads: “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. To perpetuate lifelong friendships and commitment to the Fraternity.”

That is our Fraternity’s purpose.

These recent scandals are examples of why the mission of Sigma Nu is still relevant today and will be for quite some time. We will always need ethical leaders and until that becomes a cornerstone of higher education institutions, we will need organizations expressly devoted to developing those ethical leaders. Especially so when even the Global Economic Forum issued a report in 2014 that listed a lack of values in leadership as one of the top 10 trends facing the world.

Sigma Nu’s commitment to its mission is not simply through one sentence in a mission statement. It is in our LEAD Program that provides members the tools and knowledge to become ethical leaders. It’s in our College of Chapters program for Commanders that provides keynote speakers on real world experiences of ethical leadership in action. And our commitment to this ideal shines through in the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation that works to ensure our mission can be executed for generations to come. To a large degree, the mission of Sigma Nu frames what we do every day to address the deficit of ethical leaders in our world today.

A statement from the Global Economic Forum report perhaps best summarizes why Sigma Nu’s Mission matters today, “We cannot expect all leaders to be saints, or to have no interests of their own, or know everything about everybody – that is clearly impossible. But, in terms of developing a positive global vision, the sharing of information is key. We must work hard to present people with a different range of ideas, interests and visions, and introduce different types of people, information and values in an attempt to bring about understanding. There’s always room for learning. If leaders stop learning, then it’s the end.”

This is why fraternity is just as relevant now as it has ever been in the past.

14 Sorority Women the U.S. Treasury Should Consider for the New $10 Bill

Photo by flickr user armydre2008.

Photo by flickr user armydre2008.

The Treasury Department announced this week plans to include a woman on the $10 bill as part of a planned redesign that will enter circulation after 2020. The announcement coincides with the Women on 20s campaign that’s been lobbying to put a woman’s face on U.S. paper currency. The Women on 20s campaign has gained momentum in recent months, though the Treasury Department says the timing of their announcement is merely coincidence.

Officials have yet to name which historical figure will replace or appear alongside Alexander Hamilton on the $10 note. Since the Treasury Department invited citizens to submit names for consideration, we decided to assemble the following list of remarkable sorority women whose courage and resolve blazed trails for others and left our country better than they found it. We invite all readers to suggest names of qualified candidates we may have missed. Here they are, in alphabetical order by last name.

Sadie T. M. Alexander, Ph.D (Delta Sigma Theta) was the nation’s first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics and later become a founder of the National Bar Association. In 1945 she was appointed to Commission on Civil Rights by President Truman. Alexander was also the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta.

Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer (Zeta Tau Alpha) was the first woman general of the United States Marine Corps and served a distinguished career in executive positions at Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejune, and Quantico Marine Base, among others.

Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown, Ph.D. (Delta Sigma Theta) was the first African-American woman general in the United States Army.

Carrie Chapman Catt (Pi Beta Phi) was influential in passing the 19th Amendment and founded the National League of Women Voters.

Georgia Neese Clark (Alpha Phi) was the first woman Treasurer of the United States. Her signature appeared on all U.S. currency during her tenure. Clark also served as national president for Alpha Phi.

Marjorie Mehne Culmer (Kappa Delta) was elected national president of the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1957. As the former president of an organization that values civics, democracy, and leadership, Culmer undoubtedly meets the criteria for the currency note candidates.

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (Kappa Alpha Theta) was an advocate for the abolition of slavery and staunch supporter of women’s suffrage. She played a prominent role in coordinating political campaigns in Union states in the months leading up to the Civil War. Dickinson was also the first woman to speak before the United States Congress.

Lou Henry Hoover (Kappa Kappa Gamma) advocated for volunteerism in her weekly radio broadcasts as First Lady. She served as national president of the Girls Scouts of America before and after her term as First Lady.

Jane Yelvington McCallum (Alpha Delta Pi) was a former Texas Secretary of State and served as publicity chairperson during the suffrage movement. She later served as chairperson of the Texas state ratification committee for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and authored the Texas chapter of the National History of Women’s Suffrage. 

Francine Irving Neff (Alpha Delta Pi) served as the 35th U.S. Treasurer under President Nixon and later under President Ford. Following her service with the federal government Neff became the first woman appointed to Hershey’s Food Corp. Board of Directors.

Rosa Parks (Alpha Kappa Alpha) is widely regarded as “the mother of the freedom movement” for her role in the Civil Rights Movement. Parks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and she was the first woman to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Building. As one of our nation’s most iconic and influential figures, Parks is an obvious candidate for this recognition.

Ivy Baker Priest (Delta Zeta) served as United States Treasurer with the Eisenhower administration from 1953-1961. During this time her signature appeared on all U.S. currency, making her a natural candidate to appear on the new $10 bill. She was once said to have quipped, “We women don’t care too much about getting our pictures on money as long as we can get our hands on it.”

Eleanor Roosevelt (Alpha Kappa Alpha) was a champion for women’s rights throughout her life and later become known as a steadfast advocate for human rights in general, which earned her the name “First Lady of the World.” As the U.S. delegate to the United Nations, she lobbied to pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For her unwavering support of these important causes, Roosevelt was voted one of the finalists in the Women on 20s campaign that seeks to replace Andrew Jackson with a woman’s face on the $20 bill.

Frances E. Willard (Alpha Phi) was a women’s suffragist whose influence was instrumental in the passing the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Willard also served as Alpha Phi’s national president.

Who did we miss? Leave a comment below or email news@sigmanu.org so we can make sure our list includes all qualified candidates.

 

Austin Finley’s Trip to Washington

Austin Finley at the White House to discuss Higher Education policy with other student leaders across the country.

Austin Finley at the White House to discuss Higher Education policy with other student leaders across the country.

By Ben Nye (Arkansas)

Sigma Nu has no shortage of student leaders. One such student leader and brother recently went all the way to the White House where he was able to participate in conversations that will influence higher education policy in the coming months.

Along with over 150 other student government presidents, Brother Austin Finley (Alabama in Huntsville) spent May 30-June 1 in Washington, D.C., for the National Presidential Leadership Summit hosted by the National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC). As part of Finley’s trip, he got to discuss prominent issues in higher education with fellow student government presidents and education officials within the federal government.

The summit featured discussion on many issues that Finley and other campus presidents face including Title IX policy implementation, campus sexual assault prevention, college career readiness, mental health, and college affordability.

Along with discussions about issues facing higher education, Finley and his fellow presidents were educated on how to be effective student leaders and implement necessary policies. “What can we do to make our programs more efficient and what are other schools doing that we aren’t doing?” relayed Finley, expressing some of the key focuses of the summit.

Among the benefits of the summit was the attendance of many outgoing student government presidents who helped the incoming presidents understand their roles. “We really heard what their struggles were and where we could something different,” said Finley.

SGA Presidents Summit_Austin Finley_Mu Beta_Summer 2015

Finley’s involvement with these high-level discussions, combined with his involvement in local prevention efforts, is emblematic of a much broader commitment by fraternities assuming a leadership role in the growing sexual assault prevention movement. Only a few weeks prior to Finley’s White House invite, Sigma Nu’s General Fraternity joined a consortium of other national fraternities and sororities to launch a new sexual assault prevention program of their own.

On the second day of the summit, the student government presidents met with many leaders within the federal government including the director of the It’s On Us campaign and several officials within the Department of Education. “They really asked for our input on several things. We were actually active in shaping what the current administration is actually doing in Washington.”

Finley’s experience has proved invaluable in shaping his perspective on governance and politics. “Going to something like this opened my eyes to see how much easier it is to push your ideas. It’s a lot easier when you come together as a group of student leaders.”

Brother Finley is eager to get back and shape more higher education policy in Alabama, but he doesn’t want to do it by himself. Finley wants to take his Sigma Nu brothers along for the ride.

“Through student government Sigma Nu brothers have the opportunity to lobby or get involved in state or local politics. I would encourage brothers to do that. Don’t just be content, take action. That’s one of the things I’ve learned since getting involved with SGA. Apathy is not an excuse.”

Fraternities Build Campus Communities that Wouldn’t Exist Otherwise

Brothers of Gamma Beta participating in Northwestern's Dance Marathon in 2013.

Brothers of Gamma Beta participating in Northwestern’s Dance Marathon in 2013.

By Mark Nelson (Northwestern)

For many undergraduates, my university tends to feel quite lonely. Students are overly competitive, focused on getting the best internship, job, or graduate school acceptance. Throughout the year, one can find numerous students in the library on weekend nights, working through problem sets or preparing for their next interview. We also have what students call the Sheridan Road Effect, where students walk down the main street on campus with their heads down, and if they notice somebody they have met before, they do their best to pretend like they have not seen them. I am not sure exactly what it is but the campus often feels as if it lacks a true sense of community.

I was reminded of this recently when I reached out to professors for letters of recommendation for medical school and received no reply in return.

I then reached out to successful alumni of my fraternity, most of whom did not even attend my school. In contrast, the most popular response I received was, “I’d be honored. When should I get it to you?”

These touching replies further strengthened my belief that my fraternity experience has been the most meaningful part of my college career. Not just for the growth I experienced, but also for the constant support of others.

In middle school I was not the most popular kid by a long shot. It was not that I didn’t have friends at school, I did, but that was the extent of my friendships: School. I would go home every day, do my homework, watch television, go to bed, and repeat. I remember two girls in my class who had parties every Friday night to which most of my friends would be invited. The most painful part was not the Friday afternoon bus rides home listening to everyone talk about the party. That was nothing a pair of headphones couldn’t fix. The most painful part was sitting at home alone on a Friday night. I worked on model airplanes most times, occasionally read a book, and if I was lucky my mom would rent a movie for me. The most eventful nights were when I was the target of prank calls coming from those weekend parties, with the easily identifiable voices of my “school friends” on the line. I didn’t like it, but I learned to not cry about it. I grew comfortable with it

These touching replies further strengthened my belief that my fraternity experience has been the most meaningful part of my college career. Not just for the growth I experienced, but also for the constant support of others.

My life today stands in stark contrast to what it was in middle school, or even high school for that matter, and I owe most of this change to my fraternity. The training and education I received from Sigma Nu staff, alumni, and fellow members, coupled with the endless support of my family back home, has put me in a new and better place. Today, despite the anxiety I came to college with, I sit on important committees with university administrators, have a say in school policy changes, help chapter members through difficult experiences, and speak to other presidents about their leadership and personal values. While the true nerd inside me will always have a passion for academics, this work has truly made my time in college fulfilling.

In addition to personal growth, my fraternity experience has always brought me a sense of comfort. When someone is in a chapter that operates properly they are never alone, regardless of the campus atmosphere. Sure, it is not uncommon for me to take a weekend night to study for the quarter system’s ceaseless barrage of exams, but I can never go one night without at least ten friends asking about going into the city or offering to study for an exam as a group. Both suggestions are always appreciated, especially the test preparation.

Brother Nelson serves as one of the undergraduate members on the Sigma Nu Education Foundation's Board of Directors

Brother Nelson serves as one of the collegiate board members for Sigma Nu Education Foundation’s Board of Directors

Critics of the Greek system point to myriad flaws such as charges of hazing, sexual assault, binge drinking, and drug use. Undeniably, these are serious problems, as they are on NCAA athletic teams, theater groups, club sports, student publication teams, and many, many more places on college campuses. These are issues that need to be addressed and they need to be addressed now. I know this because I hear of occurrences both on my campus and on others.  Not only do these problems have no place in Greek organizations but on college campuses in general.

If these issues are to be addressed, it comes down to national organizations holding their chapters to the same standards their founders set years ago, and many organizations do that quite well. However, it is also the responsibility of universities to not only hold Greek organizations to high standards of human decency, but to show consistency by holding other student groups and athletic teams to that same high standard. Currently, the Greek system is in a spotlight in a dark room, but if the problem is ever to be truly fixed, the whole room needs to be lit.

While there are an unfortunate amount of examples of chapters gone wrong, I know that fraternities still have a place on college campuses because I have seen even more examples of fraternity done right. As the president of the Interfraternity Council, I often talk to administrators about the community service and philanthropy that Greek organizations do. I point to members of my chapter working in hospitals and the Chicago Food Depository, or I point to members canning to raise money for ALS research and forming teams for Dance Marathon. I point to these things because they are easy to understand from the outside. What I cannot fully explain is the real world training and education that fraternities provide through genuine national support and heartfelt relationships with alumni and advisors. Nor, in my case, can I fully describe how meaningful it is when alumni and brothers alike go out of their way to help me, whether that is providing letters of recommendation, reviewing my resume, or simply repeating over and over again that I will become that small town doctor I want to be.

When I left for college my freshman year my dad told me that this time was for education, building lifelong friendships, and discovering yourself. That, at its core, is exactly what the fraternity experience is meant to be and what it was for me.

Editor’s Note: We invite brothers of all ages to submit essays about their own Sigma Nu experience. Submissions should be emailed to news@sigmanu.org

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Beta Chi Brothers Launch Board Game Kickstarter

The Campaign board game created by three Beta Chi Brothers.

The Campaign board game created by three Beta Chi Brothers.

By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

Three brothers of the Beta Chi Chapter at Stanford might be on the verge of creating the next big board game. It’s not based on how much wood you have to buy, how many hotels to put on a property, or what word will give you double points. Instead it’s a game that’s focused on something we are all very familiar with: a US Presidential election.

Soon-to-be graduates Eric Iwashita, Max Kohrman, and Eric Hallett – all candidate brothers from the same class – developed the idea as part of the capstone project for their product design class. Their inspiration? Playing board games with fellow members of the chapter at the chapter house. And so began a 27 week project that now finds itself coming to fruition.

The game is titled The Campaign: A Seriously Absurd Political Board Game. In the game 4-6 players first divide as evenly as possible into two teams, Republicans and Democrats. Throughout the game the players draw and play cards as well as spend money in their attempt to garner the electoral votes needed to win the election. The cards include mini-games like the “Speech” card where a player has to give a 30-second speech on key topics like why the U.S. should annex Canada or why cheese should be banned from public schools. There’s also the “Filibuster” card that skips a player’s turn. The game is novel in that each player is not just trying to win the presidential election themselves but also ensure that their team wins the election.

He attributes much of the game’s current look and feel to those test games played by chapter members with many providing input, feedback, and different perspectives to the game designers that helped them round out the game to appeal to a wider audience.

The title alone is a good indicator that this isn’t a game where you take yourself or the political process too seriously and is filled with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Iwashita says political cartoons were an influence in designing the game’s humor, as was the popular game Cards Against Humanity where political correctness is almost forbidden.

Throughout the design process Iwashita, Kohrman, and Hallett relied heavily on their fellow chapter members as test subjects for the game.  Iwashita says they went through 11-12 versions of the game until they settled on the final product. He attributes much of the game’s current look and feel to those test games played by chapter members with many providing input, feedback, and different perspectives to the game designers that helped them round out the game to appeal to a wider audience.

The three men now find themselves close to not only graduation but also the final presentation of their project on June 2, which is fitting since they will also be launching their game on Kickstarter the same day. The group is looking to raise about $25,000 to cover costs for initial manufacturing as well as filling rewards orders through Kickstarter. A $35 donation will earn a copy of the game for the first 50 donors, with additional perks for lower tier donation levels.

The 2016 presidential election might be 500+ days away but, it’s never too early to get your “House of Cards” fix in the form of a good-natured board game.

The Campaign Facebook Page

The Campaign Kickstarter Page

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The Greenest Home in America, Five Years Later

Aerial view_Photo by Blake Marvin

Photo credit: Blake Marvin

 

When we last checked in with Paul Holland (James Madison) and his wife, Linda, they were in the process of building the greenest home in America, as chronicled in the Winter 2010 issue of The Delta. As Paul told us at the time, the project was never intended to be a competition – “the greenest home in America” was more of a personal challenge to see how far they could take it.

The real goal was to build an environmentally regenerative concept house that would serve as a learning experience for others looking to learn more about green building. It was always part of Paul and Linda’s plan for the house to serve as a gathering place for not only their family but also green builders looking to learn from the project.

In addition to hosting classes from nearby schools, Paul and Linda have hosted nearly 50 groups since moving in four years ago this July. They’ve also hosted classes from several universities, including Stanford and James Madison, Paul’s alma mater.

“We wanted a place that brings people together,” he says now, reflecting on the building process.

“The most influential thing we were able to do was host a group from the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo when it was held in San Francisco in 2012. We hosted a VIP kickoff event that included scores of designers, architects, and other green builders looking for ideas and concepts they could borrow for other projects around the world.”

Living room_Photo Blake Marvin

Paul and Linda avoided natural gas and all oil-based products, so you won’t find any paints or varnishes in the house. Photo credit: Blake Marvin

 

For each group, Paul and Linda walk people through the green elements of the house in such a way that helps visitors learn how to incorporate the same ideas in their own projects.

The home is entirely free of fossil fuels, so all mechanical systems are electric. The ground-source heat pumps provide an efficient way to heat the home without electricity. Twenty-seven kilowatts of solar energy power the house and two electric cars; Paul and Linda expect this source to power up to five electric cars when their three children start driving.

As for building materials, they were careful to use only wood, stone, glass, and metal. They avoided natural gas and all oil-based products, so you won’t find any paints or varnishes in the house.

With the exception of a few trees, they removed all non-native flora from the property, replacing the existing grass with native varieties that don’t require as much water — a decision that has been validated by California’s ongoing water shortage. With the closed-loop recycled water system all water gets treated and reused on site.

In addition to favoring native grasses, they conducted studies to restore other native plant species and improve wildlife habitats. (The house’s name, Tah.Mah.Lah, is the word for mountain lion used by the native Ohlone people who once inhabited the Portola Valley area in California.)

Open walls_Erin Scholl

In addition to favoring native grasses, Paul and Linda conducted studies to restore other native plant species and improve wildlife habitats. Photo credit: Erin Scholl

 

As the house’s website states, Paul and Linda wanted Tah.Mah.Lah. to be a “proving ground for many innovations in the construction process itself.” As for next steps, they want to continue to do outreach and be a part of the curriculum that educates on green building. Judging from the hundreds of visitors and the green builders who seek them out for advice, it’s apparent that their project is having a positive effect on the burgeoning green building movement.

For Earth Day 2015 we asked Paul to highlight some steps we can all take to live a greener lifestyle – whether you’re a green builder or an everyday citizen looking to be more conscientious.

Do things that are irreversible. Implement energy systems that use ground-source and solar. Once you get accustomed to not using less efficient sources of energy (e.g. oil-based) you’ll never feel the need to go back. You get hooked on 100% renewable lifestyle.

Get in the habit of reusing things. Take your own reusable bottle to the coffee shop when you can. Take reusable grocery bags to the market. Drink tap water in a glass in place of bottled water. Deconstruct existing buildings and donate the parts instead of tearing them down and hauling the parts to a landfill. In general, find ways to cut down on the amount of trash you produce.

Take advantage of the shared economy. The most profound thing we’re seeing with regards to more responsible living is the shift towards sharing resources. The current generation of young people is much better at this than older generations. Young people are using UberPool, corporate buses, and other ride sharing services that cut down on traffic pollution. Thanks to Airbnb, people are finding lodging accommodations in existing structures rather than building new hotels. There are now services that let you rent out your car while it’s parked at the airport. The Airbnb for corporate events, PeerSpace, lets groups rent meeting space in existing buildings rather than hotels that don’t get as much use. The sharing economy is providing more efficient use of buildings and automobiles that would otherwise sit idle.

Paul predicts that the concepts of home ownership and car ownership will continue to change, a shift that is good news for green living.

To learn more about Tah.Mah.Lah and other green causes, visit the project’s website which includes links to news articles and a blog with additional resources for green living.

Paul Holland at his office in Menlo Park, Calif.

Paul Holland at his office in Menlo Park, Calif.

The Delta of Sigma Nu – Spring 2015

Table of Contents

SN_theDelta_2015_Spring_P4_Cover

Features

A Culture Built on Ethics
Software entrepreneur Les Muma (South Florida) is spreading a message of sound business ethics.

Bound by Honor
After announcing a new theme for the biennium, Regent Joe Francis (Oklahoma State) talks about the High Council’s ambitious agenda, including what fraternities must do to remain relevant over the next five years.

Face Your Challenges
How Gamma Chapter’s loss provided the motivation the brothers needed to begin shifting the culture and attitudes in the brotherhood.

Building a Family Tradition
How two brothers from the same family helped build two of California’s most formidable Sigma Nu chapters.

Welcome Home
Beta Tau Chapter cuts the ribbon on a new 24,500-square-foot home that’s built to match their legacy as the first fraternity at North Carolina State.

Second Act
How Gerry Zimmerman (Virginia) parlayed a successful career in sales to writing books about historical fiction.

Departments

From the Editor
An introduction to the Spring 2015 issue.

Conversation
A look back in history.

Updates from Lexington
News from the General Fraternity.

Chapter Eternal
Remembering the legacy of two brothers who devoted their lives to mentoring multiple generations of Sigma Nus.

Edward Forester (Northwestern)
Judge George Hearn (Georgia)

Chapter and Alumni News
Dispatches from around the country.

Bookshelf
A new book about Theodore Roosevelt reveals what advice the former president might offer to today’s fraternity men. Plus the latest titles by Sigma Nu authors.

Higher Education
Lack of due process stirs controversy on campus.

Perspectives on Our Past
Grand Historian Bob McCully (San Diego State) explores the mystery of Alpha #4.

Interview
Alumnus of the Biennium and Chapter Advisor of the Year Bill Geddy (Georgia Southern) shares the secrets to an effective Alumni Advisory Board.

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