Category Archives: values-based leadership

Twitter tries, fails to hold fraternity-themed party

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons license by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid (scottbeale.org/laughingsquid.com.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons license by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid (scottbeale.org/laughingsquid.com)

Twitter is taking criticism this week after employees at the San Francisco office hosted a fraternity house-themed party reportedly organized by the company’s revenue team.

Some critics condemned the event as tone-deaf in light of Silicon Valley’s male-dominated culture that fails to adequately promote women to leadership positions. This lack of diversity has been well-documented in recent months, underscored by high-profile lawsuits from former employees alleging gender discrimination.

In hosting this event Twitter employees revealed another area of ignorance: they have little idea of what a fraternity party actually looks like. Far from the unregulated, anything-goes caricature many have about fraternity parties, these social functions are beholden to pages of detailed but necessary requirements to ensure the safety of all guests and members.

If Twitter wants to host a true fraternity-themed party, here is what it would actually look like.

BYOB. No alcoholic beverages are purchased through the chapter treasury nor is the purchase of same for members or guests undertaken or coordinated by any member or candidate in the name of or on behalf of the chapter.

No tap system or bulk alcohol purchases. No tap system and/or a keg is present in the chapter house, on chapter property, or at a chapter function (unless the tap system and/or keg is part of a cash bar operated by a licensed and insured third party vendor).

Sober monitors. Chapters are required to have designated sober monitors to ensure the safety of members and guests.

Attendees must be of legal drinking age to consume alcohol. Valid identification of those claiming to be entitled legally to consume alcohol at chapter functions (where legal consumption is permitted) is checked for the correct age.

No drinking games. No chapter member permits, tolerates, encourages or participates in drinking games in the chapter house, on chapter property, or at any chapter function. Drinking games like Twitter’s beer pong table encourage the type of reckless over-consumption of alcohol that leads to accidents and the ensuing negative media coverage.

Scholarship comes first. A chapter that falls beneath its school’s All-Men’s undergraduate, All-IFC or a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale), whichever is lowest, shall be placed on academic warning for the next academic term in order to allow for the chapter to raise its GPA to be at or above the applicable GPA. (If Twitter’s staff had been a fraternity chapter they would have been barred from hosting social functions due to under-performing stock values.)

It might be tempting to dismiss all this as burdensome red tape implemented by a top-down bureaucracy. However, those familiar with the typical national fraternity governance model will know this is far from the truth.

Each biennium representatives from every collegiate chapter gather for a legislative conclave known to us as Grand Chapter. During this legislative conference, members propose, discuss, and vote upon changes to our national bylaws, including the Risk Reduction Policy and Guidelines.

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Collegiate delegates review materials before voting on a proposed change to national bylaws at the 66th Grand Chapter in Nashville.

The votes for these decisions are overwhelmingly controlled by undergraduates, which means no regulation governing social events is passed without the support of the collegiate members. These regulations governing all fraternity social functions ensure chapters provide a safe environment for all attendees. The Grand Chapter also delegates to the General Fraternity the authority to exercise appropriate discipline for any chapter that fails to uphold these basic expectations.

We’re flattered Twitter staffers tried to imitate their perception of a stereotypical fraternity party. In doing so, however, their employees illustrated a common misunderstanding about the way fraternity events are governed and regulated.

And while we have your attention we hope you’ll check out Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit devoted to closing the gender gap in technology and engineering.

 

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.

 

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

June 2014 Nikon import 1183

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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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.

 

Research shows how fraternity membership enhances personal growth

Sigma Nu Leadership conference

Chapter presidents share best practices at College of Chapters, Sigma Nu’s flagship leadership training conference.

By Merritt Onsa

The UniLOA assessment is a 70-item, self-reporting instrument designed to measure student growth, learning and development or “GLD” of college and university students. The research is conducted by the Center for Learning Outcomes Assessment at Indiana State University.

UniLOA measures behavior at key points in a student’s college career and focuses on seven critical domains: critical thinking, self-awareness, communication, diversity, citizenship, membership & leadership and relationships. In the last few years, this diagnostic tool has provided a rich source of new data to inform program development and support services on campuses across the nation.

To ensure high reliability, the authors spent three years developing and testing the instrument before reporting their findings. Now, after six years of data collection, themes and patterns have emerged about the impact of fraternity membership on the development of male students.

The spike in development—especially in the first 15 credit hours—is not seen in athletics, student government or residence life; it’s found uniquely in fraternity members.

Five national fraternities have participated in this research along with more than more than 300 institutions of higher education. Students—not just fraternity members—from across the campus life spectrum have participated in the study.

However, the results confirm what many fraternity members have known all along—the fraternity experience positively influences the personal development of male students. This is demonstrated in three key outcomes from the research:

  • Fraternity men experienced higher net gains in growth over their academic lifespan in each of the seven critical domains.
  • Average growth of fraternity men was higher than non-affiliated men during the first semester of their first year in college, which is often the “pledge” semester.
  • Fraternity men scored substantially higher in “citizenship” and “membership & leadership” than non-affiliated men.

The spike in development—especially in the first 15 credit hours—is not seen in athletics, student government or residence life; it’s found uniquely in fraternity members. And the North-American Interfraternity Conference President and CEO, Peter Smithhisler, says it’s the best argument against deferred recruitment. “The earlier a man can join, the more significant his development,” he says.

Sigma Nu Leadership conference

Director of Leadership Development Scott Smith facilitates a discussion at the 2014 College of Chapters in Roanoke, Va.

Of course, the authors of the UniLOA acknowledge that growth, learning and development happen naturally through the maturation process; but meaningful and consistent engagement in organized activities like fraternities tends to accelerate the rate of GLD for those students.

The NIC has been aware of UniLOA for the past five years; however, the organization waited to react to the results until the data could be replicated. Now that it has been deemed a reliable and valid instrument that consistently reveals the same overall patterns, the NIC is working to help undergraduate members and college administrators understand the total impact of the fraternity experience on male student development.

“While we own, acknowledge and are dealing with the issues that are out of line with the values of the fraternity experience, we also have to start identifying what’s going right. As a result of the new member experience, young men have leadership opportunities, interact with a diverse group of students and develop personal relationships. If we can eliminate the negative aspects and enhance the positive aspects, I expect the fraternity experience to become even more impactful,” says Smithhisler.

Sigma Nu Leadership conference

Chapter presidents discuss ways to positively influence their campus at the 2014 College of Chapters in Roanoke, Va.

And that opportunity rests in the hands of our current chapter members. “Our current undergraduates are entrusted with the future of fraternities. What they do today in the ways they recruit, create expectations and how they lead, all of these things will determine the focus of fraternities in the future. And it’s up to the undergraduates to ensure our future,” says Smithhisler.

At the same time, alumni play an important role in the development of young men. Smithhisler challenges all fraternity alumni to reengage with their organization as role models and mentors. “Undergraduates need positive role models to provide guidance and encouragement along the path to becoming fraternity men. It’s through mentorship that student leaders are taught the value of fraternity membership and how to live out those values in their daily lives,” he says.  Equally as important, “alumni must resist perpetuating the myths and stereotypes through their interactions and expectations of the young men in our chapters.”

Sigma Nu Leadership conference

Vice Regent John Hearn stands by to assist chapter presidents during a goal-setting session.

To continue to share the research outcomes, the NIC created The Case for Fraternity Rights website and is working through multiple channels to disseminate the information therein. They are communicating directly with IFC and campus leaders, especially those campuses with deferred recruitment. And they’ve translated the research into a 60-minute presentation that their 75 member organizations can use at national conventions or provide to traveling staff members to share with individual chapters. In case you’re wondering, the NIC is not affiliated with UniLOA and does not commission, finance or influence the research in any way.

In addition to communicating the good news about fraternity life to those closest to the experience, the NIC is working to share this research with other stakeholders like the media, government officials, parents and potential new members.

To learn more about the research visit http://nicindy.org/fraternityrights/ and help us spread the word about the dramatic positive impact fraternity life has on student growth, learning and development for the young men who join.

This story originally appeared in the fall 2012 issue of The Delta.

New Group Learning Environment Mirrors Fraternity Leadership Development Programs

Faculty member Dave Mainella works with chapter presidents during the 2012 College of Chapters in St. Louis.

GOOD magazine has a new story up about an intriguing program at Penn State that aims to provide professional mentoring for college students all living in the same house:

Imagine as many as 60 entrepreneurial college students living under a single roof and being mentored by successful professionals in their chosen fields. That’s the idea behind a social living project called co.space in State College, Pennsylvania.

Working with more than 50 student interns from Penn State, New Leaf built the framework that will serve as a model for other universities interested in the project: a two-year program for juniors and seniors that includes a semester of training, the opportunity to lead a semester-long project, a summer internship, and a personal mentor—plus a plethora of professional networking options in-house.

It sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? What are some ways fraternities could collaborate with GOOD or co.space on a similar project?

Fixing a Toxic Culture

The resignation letter from a former Goldman Sachs executive, published today in the New York Times, has been making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter this morning. As former executive Greg Smith walks readers through the reasons for his resignation, he touches on a number of lessons surrounding group culture and ethical leadership – two subjects that couldn’t be more relevant for fraternity life.

Smith wastes no time in identifying a lack of leadership as the culprit for Goldman Sachs’ increasingly negative work culture.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

It’s hard to say where profit fits into an analogy between a business and a student organization. As you read on, know that Smith’s letter is not an indictment of profit-seeking per se, but rather a lesson in what happens when an organization strays from its core purpose.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.

For better or worse, the fastest way to change the culture of a group is the behavior of the leadership. As Smith witnessed, younger employees would observe and later mimic the insidious behavior of the senior analysts. Sure enough, new members are likely to take cues from older members, particularly the leadership. When upperclassmen abuse alcohol, act irresponsibly, and otherwise neglect their duties, the new members will undoubtedly do the same.

Smith closes with some advice for the remaining Goldman Sachs executives – people with the ability to reshape the company’s culture.

Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons.

It’s not easy to tell a peer, one who might even be a good friend, that he can’t be in the fraternity anymore. But that’s what being in a fraternity founded on the Honor principle is all about – self-governance and peer-accountability. That aside, a chapter that lacks the fortitude to remove members who contribute to a toxic culture will not be around for very long.

//Nathaniel Clarkson (James Madison)