Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Sigma Nu’s Mission Matters


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.

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

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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.

Sigma Nu: Alpha Xi Delta’s “Alpha” Males?

Lombard College

By Ruth Goodman, Editor of The Quill of Alpha Xi Delta

[Editor’s Note: The Delta recently had an opportunity to assist Alpha Xi Delta Sorority research the historic connections between our two organizations.  The resulting story, published by Alpha Xi Delta in their Fall/Winter 2006 issue of The Quill, offers a unique glimpse into an interfraternal relationship Sigma Nu is proud to be a part of.  What follows are edited excerpts from their original article.]

When 10 young women, whom Alpha Xi Delta members now know as their Founders, attended Lombard College in the late 1800s, they were hard-pressed to find activities to keep themselves busy outside of class. The lack of social support was not unique to this Galesburg, Ill., campus. In fact, female students across the country were finding it difficult to locate social opportunities, especially when women were admitted to college and merely tolerated instead of being welcomed as an integral part of the student body.

A local sorority called I.C. Sorosis, which later became Pi Beta Phi sorority, had been permitted to install a chapter of its organization at Lombard in 1867, which brought the fraternity system to campus and expanded the number of social opportunities for women. This was a good beginning, yet not all of the women at Lombard were interested in, or chosen to become, Pi Phis.

Harriet Louella McCollum became a Lombard freshman in 1892, surveyed the social scene and longed for something more. Harriet envisioned a new fraternity that would encourage personal friendships, promote friendlier contacts with the entire student body and actively serve the college. She shared her idea with friends Cora Bollinger, Lucy Gilmer, Eliza Curtis, Frances Cheney and Almira Cheney. In early March, 1893, this fledgling group met to consider the possibility of founding a fraternity that realized these ideals.

The women of Pi Beta Phi and the men of Phi Delta Theta, one of the two fraternities on campus, were closely aligned, so the idea of another women’s group was enthusiastically welcomed by our men at the Delta Theta Chapter. In fact, Sigma Nu had been founded at Lombard just a year earlier, so Harriet and her friends eagerly talked with our men about how to establish a new group on campus.

Attempts by other groups to organize societies on campus had failed, so the young women made sure their organization was running smoothly before it was officially unveiled to the student body. On April 17, 1893, the group of 10, which now included Bertha Cook, Julia Foster, Lewie Strong and Alice Bartlett, met a few minutes before chapel time to pin on knots of double blue ribbon and long-stemmed pink roses, which had been smuggled into the room. With sparkling eyes, flushed cheeks and proud postures, the women entered the chapel after the faculty and students had been seated and sat quietly near the back of the room. After a moment of startled silence, our Delta Theta Chapter members led congratulatory applause, welcoming Alpha Xi Delta to campus.

Sigma Nu members wanted to do something nice for our new Greek sisters to mark this special occasion, so two of our brothers outraced two Phi Delta Thetas by five minutes to buy the remaining box seats for a performance of Othello, which was being presented at the auditorium on April 25.

 Faithful Friends

This outing was the first of many that the Alpha Xis and Sigma Nus enjoyed. An article in our February 1902 issue of The Delta stated, “The swellest social event of the season so far took place on Saturday eve, January 25, in the [Lombard] college gym. It was a dancing party given to the Sigs by our most faithful and loyal friends, the Alpha Xi Deltas. The gym was prettily decorated in light and dark blue, their colors, and the gold, black and white of Sigma Nu. Inviting cozy corners were arranged here and there, which of course, were always occupied. The music was excellent and everything was first class. At the last waltz the gym rang with the two frat yells. Words cannot express our appreciation of this party or tell of the delightful evening we spent.”

The following year, Alpha Xi Delta’s first convention was held at the same time we held our fifth division convention in Galesburg. It seemed only natural that our two groups would get together for a reception and dance in the Lombard gymnasium, which had once again been decorated in the colors of both organizations. As noted in their fraternity’s magazine, The Alpha Xi Delta, Vol. 1, No. 1, “The reception was set for an early hour, 5:30, and soon after that time the orchestra commenced an attractive program of waltzes and two steps. At 9 o’clock, cars were waiting to take the merry crowd downtown to their respective banquets. The boys filled one car and the girls another, but by a seemingly prearranged plan the car the girls were in ran off the track and the gallant young men offered their seats. When the cars started again, they were filled with a mixed crowd of girls and boys who enlivened the trip with fraternity songs and yells. The Alpha Xi Deltas went to Spake’s banquet hall where an elegant banquet was served. The convention closed Saturday evening with a joint rally at the Sigma Nu house. College songs were sung and several songs composed for the occasion were rendered.”

Lending a Helping Hand

The Lombard Alpha Xi Deltas became increasingly interested in becoming a national fraternity and sharing their organization with women on other campuses. The women realized that expanding Alpha Xi Delta beyond Lombard would require a constitution instead of the few simple rules they had been using to function on a local level.

Chapter member Edna Epperson asked her father who, among his attorney friends, could be trusted to keep their plans confidential and help draft a nationalization plan and a preliminary constitution. He referred her to James J. Welsh, a Sigma Nu alumnus from Lombard. On April 17, 1902, their Alpha Chapter celebrated Founders’ Day by adopting the constitution that declared the organization a national fraternity. And, that constitution, with amendments, still guides their fraternity today.

Albert H. “Bert” Wilson, an iconic Sigma Nu alumnus from our Beta Iota Chapter at Mount Union College in Ohio, was gifted at (among other things) helping local fraternities and sororities affiliate with national organizations. Therefore, and not surprisingly, he was instrumental in helping broaden Alpha Xi Delta’s reach. Brother Wilson began his association with Alpha Xi Delta in 1902 when the S.L.C. Club at Mount Union petitioned for a charter to become Gamma Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. Brother Wilson and Mary Emily Kay, a member of S.L.C. Club, sat on her front porch and helped write that successful petition. Mary was initiated into Gamma Chapter in 1902 and became Alpha Xi Delta’s fourth Grand President (now known as National President) in 1909.

Throughout the years, Alpha Xi Delta and Sigma Nu continued to establish chapters across the country, often finding themselves at the same colleges and universities. And, since Alpha Xi Delta’s founding, our two organizations have coexisted, or currently coexist, on 109 campuses.

Could Alpha Xi Delta have become a thriving organization without receiving help from the members of Sigma Nu? Given the strength and fortitude of their 10 Founders, the probability is quite high. Regardless, the next time you talk with an Alpha Xi Delta friend, or meet one of their sisters for the first time, tell her how proud you are that Sigma Nus at Lombard College were able to extend a helping hand.

This version of the article originally appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of The Delta.  

UC Davis Sigma Nu Co-Founds Latin American Film Series

Juan Paul Varela2

Juan-Paulo Varela (UC Davis), co-founder of the Crisol Latin American Film Initiative.

Founded to increase the appreciation of Latin American arts and culture, the Crisol Latin American Film Initiative will offer Spanish language cinema and a variety of artistic mediums that highlight the similarities between Latinos and their non-Latino peers. The Film Initiative, co-founded by Brother Juan-Paulo Varela (UC Davis), will host its inaugural run over four weekends beginning Saturday, March 14 through Friday, April 3, 2015. All screenings will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Varela serves as the program director, while co-founder Karem Orrego, a fourth year film student at the University of Utah, serves as executive director.

When asked why he co-founded the Film Initiative, Varela said he wanted to create a platform through which Latin American arts and culture could be both appreciated and critically examined in the context of shifting demographics in the United States.

“Crisol is an olive branch similar to the fraternal love that we as Sigma Nus experience–we want to extinguish tired stereotypes and elucidate a modern Latin America in juxtaposition with the United States,” he said.

The Crisol Film Initiative is expected to attract an audience of more than 1,200 people over its first four weekends and an additional 600 during its second screenings in late April. Such prominent attendees for the opening reception will include University of Utah administrators, including the dean and several department chairs of the College of Fine Arts.

Likewise, Utah State Senator Luz Escamilla and Utah State Representative Angela Romero will attend the closing reception along with leading members of Salt Lake’s arts and culture community at the Urban Arts Gallery in downtown Salt Lake.

Founded to increase the appreciation of Latin American arts and culture, Crisol will offer Spanish language cinema and a variety of artistic mediums that highlight the similarities between Latinos and their non-Latino peers.

Founded to increase the appreciation of Latin American arts and culture, Crisol will offer Spanish language cinema and a variety of artistic mediums that highlight the similarities between Latinos and their non-Latino peers.

To accomplish Crisol’s mission, Varela has actively engaged both leading individuals and organizations within Salt Lake’s political, artistic, and cultural spheres over the past six months.

The Sundance Film Festival, held in Salt Lake City, helps create a receptive attitude towards artistic endeavors but also creates a competitive market for funding and recognition. As such, Varela and the team at Crisol have worked diligently to gain the necessary support to make Crisol a reality.

Following a successful inaugural run, Varela hopes to continue the Crisol Film Initiative as an annual event.

Alternatively, the team at Crisol is weighing offers from two of the leading arts festivals in Utah to merge Crisol with their events. In either case, Varela is excited with his opportunity to promote the arts and enhance the quality of life in Utah through the production of the Crisol Latin American Film Initiative.

Recently used Sundance Film Festival venues will play host to film screenings as well interactive art performances in partnership with the University of Utah’s prestigious Ballet School.

Second screenings will take place in the weeks after the Initiative’s closing reception at the Sorenson Unity Center.

The first film will be screened on Saturday, March 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Post Theater on the University of Utah’s campus.

For more information, visit the Initiative’s website and Facebook page.

Delta Alpha Brother’s Band Releases Video

Brother Al Rodriguez’s (Case Western) band The Midnight Slander has released its debut music video. The Midnight Slander, which formed just over two years ago, features Rodriguez on bass, Mike Gray on the drums and keyboard and Dave Conner on guitar and lead vocals. One of the band’s signature elements is Gray who plays both drums and keyboard during live shows.

“When we first got together, we really liked the ideas and songwriting and music coming from a three-piece set-up,’’ told Mike Gray to “So before the first show, we asked ourselves, ‘Do we need a fourth person?’ and I half-jokingly said, ‘I’ll just cover it.’”

According to Al, the band “plays a mix of southern rock, piano pop, and funk that ensures for a fun and memorable experience.”

Speaking about his chapter brothers, Rodriguez said, “I don’t think I’ve played a show in the past year and half that hasn’t been attended or promoted by brothers who want to see me do well.  It is truly a humbling feeling to have such a backing.”

Rodriguez informed us that the band was signed to Spectra Records in 2013. The new video for “The Long Way Home” is a collection of live footage and shots of the band while on tour.

Reflections on the 2015 College of Chapters


By Chris Graham (Lamar/Stephen F. Austin)

Brothers, I write this as I remember College of Chapters 2015 which is one of the most impactful weekend experiences of my fraternal life. The experience of attending and being a faculty member for the College of Chapters is something I will never forget.

However, after returning home, I was also inspired to write this in regards to several conversations that I had with some of our Commanders from various chapters across the country. What I think drove the conversations was the real and powerful messages that were delivered during the keynote addresses we were blessed to hear during the conclave.

On the first day, we were entertained with the talent of Adam Ritz and his message concerning social media that he described as social broadcasting. It was amazing how quiet the room was when he shared the very personal situation that he has endured because of a mistake he made. His ability to relate his story to the very real world challenges that our chapters face on a daily basis hit very close to home. It definitely made me think of the stories that start “it was dark and we were drinking….”, and as Adam relayed, this is not a time to let your guards down.

On Sunday, we got to hear from an Honor Panel that challenged us to always choose the “harder right over the easier wrong.” The personal stories shared by our former collegiate Commanders Matt Tudor (Eastern Kentucky) and Wells Ellenberg (Georgia) provided real examples of the integrity required to make those tough decisions and to lead by example and conviction. Lastly, past Regent Robert Durham (Georgia) provided an example from a professional situation where a poor decision by one of his employees forced him to make the hard decision to terminate that employee.

All Sigma Nus should strive to live by the objects laid down by the founders

On Monday, even as the collegians and faculty were beginning to show the signs of tiredness and the need for more coffee, we were re-engaged with the very personal story shared by Brother Don Hooton (Louisiana Lafayette) and the effects that substance abuse had on his life after the loss of his son Taylor because of steroid use. But the real story was how Don has turned that tragedy into finding the purpose of his life and the desire to educate others on the topic of steroids and other performance enhancing substances and the impact on the lives of those that abuse them.

Sigma Nu's College of Chapers Meeting

Brother Bill Courtney (Mississippi) gives his keynote address during the 2015 College of Chapters.

Lastly, we were challenged with the message provided by Brother Bill Courtney (Mississippi) that our character, commitment to integrity, hard work, honor and keeping our word is vital to our ability to lead others. As he said, “all of that comes straight out of the Sigma Nu Creed. The guy who wrote that meant it. The whole idea is to think about those words and make them a part of who you are.”

So, getting back to my inspiration for writing this. The discussions I had with those Commanders involved the practice of hazing, and our chapter Commanders looking for answers as to what could constitute hazing. I think the honor theme of the College of Chapters is what inspired these Commanders to want to understand how to identify possible hazing issues and militate against them. While I recommend that any chapter Commander with these concerns engage their Alumni Advisory Board and Headquarters staff for help, I was thinking about how to help identify if a chapter might have a hazing issue.

I think back to our founders and the objects they laid out for us to live by for both our fraternal and personal lives:

  • To govern each act by a high sense of honor.
  • To bind together all members by ties of true and lasting friendship.
  • To protect, assist, advance and encourage each other by every honorable means.
  • To have plans for guidance and unity in action.
  • To propose, discuss and agree upon these plans at meetings.

All Sigma Nus should strive to live by the objects laid down by the founders, especially when it comes to candidate education. With this said, keep the following questions that were posed in this article in mind:

  1. Does this activity/requirement/expectation serve a genuine purpose?
  2. Does this activity/requirement/expectation align with the Vision, Mission, Values, and founding principles of my fraternity?
  3. Does this activity/requirement/expectation extend beyond the time as a new member and hold true for initiated members or even increase for initiated members?
  4. Does this activity/requirement/expectation align with the policies set forth by the NIC, my National Organization, IFC, and Institution?

Also, be willing to put all the details, without leaving out anything, in your documented candidate program and submit it to your Leadership Consultant for review.

Remember, your plans and actions must support the honorable pursuit of our mission to develop ethical leaders based on the principles of Love, Honor and Truth.

In summary, it is not enough for us to just say that Sigma Nu was the only college fraternity founded against the useless practice of hazing unless we are willing to prove it on a daily basis.


Winter Break Checklist

SPSU Snowfall_Iota Pi_Luc Graap_Winter 2014 (Copy)

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

CU Boulder Jan 2013 (copy)

The Gamma Kappa (Colorado) chapter home. 

Innovative LEAD Ideas (Part 2)


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.


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.