• Fraternity Pledging
    Fraternity Pledging Thoughts from the Chapter Services Department of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International

Values.

These are part and parcel to everything we do in Sigma Pi. We talk about them all the time. It makes sense, we may be a social organization, but we are at our core a values-based organization. This is made obvious in our many mantras: our creed, our ideals, our motto… But what do they mean?

I know it’s the summer, but I encourage you to text five of your brothers and ask the following questions:

  • What does it mean to value fellowship?
  • What does it mean to value brotherhood?
  • What does it mean to value truth and justice?
  • What does it mean to value promoting scholarship?
  • What does it mean to value encouraging chivalry?
  • What does it mean to value diffusing culture?
  • What does it mean to value developing character?
  • What does it mean to value serving God and man?
  • What does it mean to value the fraternity’s ideals?

9 questions, 5 brothers… I bet you get 45 unique answers.

When I visit chapters, I like to ask the question: “What is the purpose of new member education?” Just as with the above, I get a lot of unique answers. But some of the themes revolve around the following ideas:

For the new member (pledge) to prove he is worthy of joining Sigma Pi.
For the brothers to make sure that the new members (pledges) are worthy of joining Sigma Pi

Many brothers see the new member education process as a chance to take a lump of coal and turn it into a diamond. I’ll forgo getting too technical, but here is a summation of the basic tenets of self-authorship (a concept really pushed by Marcia Baxter-Magolda):

  • Everyone has a set of values; however, most students who enter college have developed their values as a result of their socialization agents (i.e. family, religion, schooling, friends, etc…).
  • As people experience cognitive dissonance (where you start to find information counter to your way of knowing), you begin to grow and develop values based upon your own way of knowing (whereas your values may not change, at least you have an internal understanding of why you believe in your values separate from your socialization agents).
  • The process for this to happen is called self-authorship and it takes years – many people do not self-author until well into their 20s, if at all.
  • Just as you can’t turn a lump of coal into a diamond in 8 weeks, there is no process of new member education that could exist that will result in someone going from not being self-authored to being self-authored. People don’t change who they are in a semester.

So here’s the fact of the matter, then: we talk a lot about values, but few first-year students (and still even, few fifth-year students) know much about their values. Values are anomalous. They mean different things to different people. The great thing about values-based recruitment is that it breaks values down into standards and expectations (i.e. if you value scholarship, the standard might be that you take no one who got an ACT score below a 25).

My good friend Josh Schutts out at the University of West Florida has really focused in on this. The fact is, what we know of people is that values are hard to really grasp onto, yet standards and expectations are easy to understand. That doesn’t mean we need to abandon our discussion of values, but we should frame those discussions around the ideas of standards and expectations. Don’t ask yourself, “Is this person reflecting our values?” but “Is this person meeting our standards and expectations?” And if they are doing something you think is wrong, but they are meeting your standards and expectations – change those!

It’s often said that different fraternities and sororities may have different rituals, but at our core we are very similar because we have similar values. And this is true – so, how do you set yourself apart? If you say your value is to “encourage chivalry,” you can’t say that you value that more than one person or another who makes a similar claim – that isn’t fair. But, you can talk about the expectations of chivalry and say you’ll hold yourselves and your brothers to a higher standard.

This is not to say “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” when it comes to values. Just, remember that merely talking about values is one piece of the puzzle.

Summer vacation is the perfect time to spend time with your friends and family, decompress from the school year and most importantly just relax and enjoy life.  The next couple months are also the perfect time to put some work into your chapter to ensure a successful and smooth transition back to school in the fall.   Here are a few tips that can help.

1. Retreat – Every chapter should host some sort of summer event.  This retreat could be a summer camping trip, brotherhood beach weekend, etc.  At the very least you should get your Executive Council together.  This event is a great opportunity to build the brotherhood, wrap up the past year and begin communicating about the upcoming year.  This event should have a good balance of work and fun.

2. Recruitment – The best time to start planning your fall recruitment is now.  Be sure to reference Phired Up’s free recruitment resources by visiting http://tinyurl.com/p4u5o6k. We highly recommend that you use the names list to organize your potential new members.  Another really great tip is to contact your high school and see what male students will be attending your institution in the fall.

3. Calendar – Research all important dates from your institution and the Grand Chapter.  Use a calendar template like this (http://tinyurl.com/yelwshk) to being planning your year.  It is also good to utilize an electronic calendar that can be shared with individual brothers like Google Calendar.

4. Conferences – There are many leadership opportunities for chapters over the summer like Convocation and UIFI.  Some campuses offer scholarships to UIFI so check with your campus professional as soon as possible if you are interested in attending.  Make sure that someone for your chapter is registered for these events and give him time when you return to school to share what he learned with the chapter

5. Communication – Make sure that you are staying in touch with your chapter members and your institution over the summer.  The next couple of months are perfect for communication with your campus fraternity affairs professional. Emails and facebook are very easy ways to communicate but don’t overlook the power of a personal phone call.  Feel free to reach out to your Regional Director for specific information on how your chapter can improve as well.

6. Fundraising – With limited activity in the chapter over the summer, this is a perfect time to do a fundraiser.  Many of our chapters will work sporting events and concerts over the summer to help add funds to the bank account.

7. Networking – Spend some time communicating with your alumni over the summer.  Now that your schoolwork load has been reduced, spend some of your energy in building relationships.  This is a great way to search for an internship or potential employment after graduation.

We hope you have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you all again in the fall.  The Executive Office will be open all summer so please do not hesitate to contact us if we can assist you.  Have a great and safe summer brothers!

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Kevin Pons, M.Ed.

Regional Director - West

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Sigma Pi Fraternity International

106 N. Castle Heights Ave. Lebanon, TN 37087

C: 856-577-7274

O: 615-921-2300

2014 Convocation Logo

 

As you probably noticed through a variety of notifications from the Executive Office, the 52nd Biennial Convocation is taking place this summer. You are probably asking yourself; just what the heck is Convocation? Convocation is unlike any other campus, local, regional or international event you have previously attended. Sigma Pi is not facilitating officer-training classes like the Mid-Year Leadership Conference, nor is Sigma Pi facilitating personal development classes like Sigma Pi University. Convocation is simply about conducting fraternity business at an international level.

Read more: Why Convocation?

When I was younger, I asked my youth pastor for the best advice he could offer me. He said to me, “It is simple: once you have made a commitment to someone or something, honor that commitment.” I have witnessed many different types of commitment over the years. I have watched friends of losing sports teams commit to a team even though they might be the laughing stock of the league for decades. I have watched friends who have committed to the military and served multiple tours even after they were no longer required to. I have watched my parents commit to each other for 55 years of marriage and I am amazed that each day they are still in love with one another.

You see, commitment is not just a feeling you have one day, it is a feeling you will have every day for the rest of your life. Commitment is staying through the great times and more importantly the tough times. It is facing adversity head-on even if you already know the results will not be good. Commitment is when you tell someone you will do something and not changing your mind because you might have fun being somewhere else. Commitment is seeing something through from start-to-finish and beyond.

I have witnessed many brothers make a commitment to Sigma Pi as a lifelong membership. I have also witnessed brothers turn their back on that commitment. They may have joined for the wrong reasons, did not see the benefit of membership, did not feel it was a priority in their life or did not want to participate anymore. Why would you take a lifelong oath only to give it up in a few years? If you are going to break your solemn obligation, then what else are you going to break? Your relationships? Your friendships? Your promises?

When you commit to something you stick with it. When you break a commitment to someone you lose a part of their trust. The same will happen when you commit to something in your chapter. When you commit to being at an event and you choose to do something else, your brothers lose faith in you. When they lose faith in you, then you become unreliable. When you are unreliable, then brothers quit asking for you to be involved. At this point, you either choose to change their minds and renew your commitment or you choose to leave and not be a part of the chapter.

So examine how you make commitments to your chapter and in your life. What have you done to help improve your chapter? Can your brothers count on you? Are you in this for now or are you in this for life?

I want to leave you with a quote from Kenneth H. Blanchard, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses-only results.”

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About Chapter Services

The Chapter Services Department consists of five Regional Directors that oversee each active chapter in Sigma Pi.  This blog consists of thoughts from the Regional Directors, as well as Assistant Executive Director Jason Walker. Founded in 1897, Sigma Pi Fraternity is the leading, international men's collegiate fraternal organization which provides training, guidance and innovative opportunities for Leadership Development, Social and Personal Development, Academic Achievement, Community Service and Heightened Moral Awareness for its brothers throughout their lives.

Contact Jason Walker:

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Tel: 615.921.2300

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