By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)
It’s 9:30 PM and the room I am in lets out a unified sigh as chairs begin to crack and the entire chapter leans precariously forward in anticipation of their usual Sunday night meeting finally ending. There is only one last thing to do before everyone can head home. It is at this point that the chapter begins The Ritual to officially close a chapter meeting.
While the Social Chairman had free reign to pontificate for 15 minutes on themes for the upcoming social event it is this part of the chapter meeting that seems to fly by in the blink of an eye.
By the time it is all done I am bewildered that the chapter’s officers seem to revert into auctioneers for a period of two minutes. But that is not even close to the fact that the majority of the members in the room seemed to mumble along and at times simply remain silent and let the officers do the majority of the process alone.
The scene I just described probably isn’t an isolated one for Sigma Nu chapters and probably not an isolated one for our Greek brothers and sisters throughout the world. I may be off-base but it seems very odd that we tend to rush through The Ritual because we want to get it over with when on the other side of the coin we are entirely okay with vague and rambling officer reports or even mass discussions during a chapter meeting as to what was the funniest moment from the past weekend.
Now I am not saying that this alone is an epidemic nor is it the cause for all the troubles of our organization. But it does say something about us, doesn’t it?
The Ritual for all intents and purposes is a singular link that transports us back in time to the founding of our Fraternity.
It is a moment in which all of our shared values and beliefs as an organization are concisely explained and shared by the entire membership.
So why the rush?
For Initiation ceremonies did you rehearse it beforehand to ensure everyone knew what to say and when?
If not then we just gave our new Initiates a lackluster product.
In fact, what we did was build this moment up for them, a moment in which they fully join an organization much larger than themselves and that requires a lifelong commitment, and then delivered something that probably seemed rushed, forgotten, and mistake-riddled.
This is why I encourage all of our chapters to not only take their time when conducting this very important and unique part of being a Sigma Nu, but to also feel free to stop midway.
Someone said something incorrectly? Stop and let them say it again.
Someone performed the wrong motion or action? Let them do it over again.
If we are never told the right way to do it or stopped while doing it incorrectly then we will forever go on with a poor concept of how The Ritual should be done.
What are the incentives for all of this?
How about pride in your organization for starters.
Secondly, when conducted correctly, The Ritual comes off as a very beautiful symphony of voices.
Personally, there has never been a moment more impressive as a Sigma Nu than attending a Grand Chapter and hearing a room of 200+ initiates ranging in ages reciting The Ritual as if it was instinctive.
Why shouldn’t we offer that same experience to members in our chapter on a regular basis?
When we start putting The Ritual higher up on our priority list then we start saying something different about our chapter.
We start saying that the shared values of our organization are truly important and that we are not just doing it to simply do it.
We are doing it because for all the years of its existence it remains as the defining language of who and what we are as members of the Legion of Honor.