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

When I attended SIUe, I pledged Delta-Omega Chapter in Fall of 1993, and it was a wonderful time. I loved everything about my experience, from my pledge brothers and the actives to the alumni that I met. After I initiated, we had let the house that we were renting go, and I thought I would make a plan to contact alumni to ask for money. I mean, they went through the same thing we did, they have money presumably, and we need a new house. Little did I realize that we had not done the greatest job with communicating with our alumni over the years. Not only were they not going to buy us a house, we were lucky if we got $100 from them. I always said to myself, “It will be different when I become an alumnus. I will donate.”

 Many years later, I have made donations to my chapter. We still don’t have a house, and I have no idea where the money went to. Well okay, I have a good idea. My money would have been better served if I had given to the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation. I mean, I had been an alumni volunteer for over 13 years, but I always felt my time and commitment was my donation. It is to a certain extent, but I know I could have done more. I had that conversation with Former Assistant Executive Director Jonathan Frost (Delta-Omega, UMSL ’02) on many occasions. When will we realize that we have to contribute our part to our fraternity? If we want more from our fraternity, then we must do our part.

Still I did not give, and I always told myself that I would someday. Then I went to Mid-Year Leadership Conference in 2013. I attended the alumni session as always. Most of the sessions were the same over the years, but this time there was something different. PGS Larry Rovira (Epsilon-Nu, California State University-Fullerton ’85) was speaking on behalf of the SPEF. He talked about how important it is to donate to our chapter, but we also have a responsibility to donate to our foundation. He talked about just donating $18.97 one-time could get you started. That is a nice dinner that you might skip or a night out drinking for some. I then remember him saying “because…If not you, then who? Who is going to make our foundation stronger? Who is going to donate towards the scholarships out for our brothers? Who is going to make that commitment? If not you, then who?” I thought about that for a few days, and I decided on February 26th, 2013 to make a donation of $18.97. It felt good, and I even received a phone call from PGS Rovira to tell me good job and to keep it up.

A few months later I began to work on staff and knew that my commitment was even more important. I decided to make a monthly donation of $18.97 a month. Now I am starting a Chapter Educational Fund for my chapter. I plan on making an additional donation along with other brothers from my chapter. If we don’t do it, then who will? My challenge to you is this. Take a look at what you can do for your chapter or the SPEF. Look into making a donation by starting a Chapter Educational Fund, where the donation is tax deductible, and it is only for your chapter or a tax-deductible donation to the SPEF. If you are an undergraduate then join the Delta Society with a one-time $20 donation to the fraternity. All of this information can be found here:

http://sigmapi.org/sigma-pi-educational-foundation/

I was not asked by anyone to write about this. I just wanted to tell my story and my decision. All I ask of you is to read about it and reflect on it. Then ask yourself this question. If not you, then who.

mylc

Progress, it’s the first word in the Sigma Pi motto. We often use that word to describe how we are moving Sigma Pi forward year after year. We make improvements to our undergraduate’s college experience, providing more opportunities for our alumni and improve our organization’s standing within the fraternal world.

The same could be said about our Mid-Year Leadership Conference (MYLC). Year after year MYLC continues to be our signature leadership conference providing high quality officer training and networking opportunities for our undergraduates and alumni. The Executive Office makes changes to the conference each year to better serve and educate our undergraduate students. 2015 will be no exception as the Executive Office prepares to roll out numerous improvements and changes to the program.

Read more: Mid-Year Leadership Conference 2015

SOESIGMA PI FRATERNITY believes that our men will strive for excellence by living our core values and individual chapters will be most successful through fulfilling our Standards of Excellence (SOE).  This program will advance man’s Quest for Excellence by supporting the values and principles upon which our fraternity was founded.

 

To ensure that our chapters promote fellowship, develop character and leadership, advance heightened moral awareness, enable academic achievement, and inspire service, this program will set forth the Standards of Excellence for every chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International.

 

The fundamental purpose of this program is to encourage our chapters to return to our founding values, which are crucial to the rich development of fraternity men.  The Standards of Excellence is comprised of 10-focus areas; one for each of the stars in our Radiant Triangle.

 

It is strongly encouraged that all chapters review all of the criteria and due-dates as soon as possible.  Several components of this program are due at various points during the academic year and others are due no later than June 1st.  Additional information including the expectations, reporting system and samples are available on the Standards of Excellence website.  This information is also easily accessible from our homepage.

 

SOE Screenshot

 

Similar to our previous accreditation programs (The Gold Standard and Efficiency Points), the Standards of Excellence will be used for awards and to calculate discounts and increases on chapter’s semi-annual dues.  A new SOE recognition program will be instituted to recognize our chapters achieving Gold, Silver and Bronze levels.

 

goldsilverbronze

 

At Convocation 2014 this past summer in Orlando, the Grand Chapter voted to move to a new Semi-Annual Dues structure to provide for the Fraternity’s liability insurance and programming. 

 

Bylaw 5 – Obligations of Chapters and Colonies, Section 5C now reads: “The amount that each chapter is charged for Semi-Annual Dues shall be adjusted based on the chapter’s actions as defined by the following criteria:

 

  1. Insurance Claims

      5% increase for each claim within the past 4 years.

  1. Risk Management Violations

      5% increase for each violation within the past 4 years.

  1. Mid-Year Leadership Conference attendance

      1% discount per attendee (up to 4); or

      5% discount if all required student leaders attend

  1. Chapter Size

      50-99 Members – 5% discount;

      100+ = Members - 10% discount

  1. Chapter Accreditation Program (As defined by the CEO)

      If ≥95%, then 20% discount;

      If 90%-94%, then 10% discount;

      If 85%-89%, then 5% discount;

      If 60%-69%, then 10% increase;

      If <60%, then 20% increase

  1. 3rd Party Collection Service or other method approved by the CEO 5% discount”

 

We have received many questions and comments regarding the new Standards of Excellence program that rolled out in August.  I hope to address some of those questions and comments here in this article.  Overall, there really are not many new expectations of chapters in our new accreditation program; most of the expectations have rolled over from the old Efficiency Points and Gold Standard. 

 

I am presenting a lot of information here.  I strongly advise our chapters and alumni volunteers to take some time to read through all of the information contained here and on our website.  Everything you need to know is there.  A lot of this information comes from questions or comments that we have received regarding the new program.

 

Here is a summary of the new items included in the Standards of Excellence:

  • Most items are now measured on an annual basis (unless otherwise indicated) as opposed to term or semester to assist our chapters that are on trimester and quarter systems in setting accurate goals and benchmarks.
  • All expectations and standards are now phrased based on what a chapter must do to achieve the highest amount of points possible.  For example, the expectation of each chapter member to raise $50 for philanthropic causes has always been in place.  However, in the Gold Standard the benchmark started at $10 per man but in order to receive the most amount of points, each man was asked to raise/donate $50.  Expectation 90 now reads “conduct or participate in 5+ philanthropy projects AND $50+ donated per man for philanthropic causes”.   Please note, Sigma Pi is not asking our members to reach into their pockets and donate $50 directly; members can fundraise or host events to raise this money.  If the chapter hosts a large philanthropy project, the total dollars raised can be divided by the number of members that participated.
  • Business attire has always been expected at formal chapter meetings and formal ceremonies.  As an undergraduate fraternity chapter, this is a great expectation to have to help professionally develop our members.
  • We are now asking our chapters to submit their bylaws (updated within the last 2 years), Risk Management Plan, Academic Success Program (Scholarship Plan) and New Member Education Program on or before October 15th as opposed to June 1st with their Gold Standard.  This will allow our staff to have this information accessible when working with our chapters.  Also, for the first time ever at the Mid-Year Leadership Conference, our student leaders will have hands-on workshops to learn best practices for these programs and have time to further develop their materials with trained experts in the field.
  • A Membership Contract is now expected for each of our chapters.  This document, centered around the 10 Obligations of Membership, will help the chapter manage expectations with their members.  By having each member sign an agreement with the chapter, he will be informed of the expectations and obligations of membership as well as the corresponding consequences as set by the chapter.  Many chapters already have a document like this; some are called a “Chapter-Designation” Man Contract.  We are simply asking to submit one master copy of this contract with all chapter member signatures to help the chapter leaders manage expectations.
  • Standards/Judicial Boards are asked to have at least 5 members when hearing a case.  This allows for a majority vote to take place when deciding cases.  The 5 members can rotate, but we ask our chapters to enlist the help of at least 5 members when deciding sanctions.
  • The Chapter Workbook will be a one-stop-shop shared record keeping system for the chapter.  This tool will help track meeting attendance, grades, finances, community service projects/hours, philanthropy projects/dollars raised, workshop attendance, ACE Project participation, committee assignments and involvement in other organizations.  Many chapters track this information in different locations, however this tool will now help our chapters track this information throughout the year in Google Spreadsheet that will be shared with the chapter’s executive council, committee chairmen, alumni volunteers and the Executive Office.  This will really help our alumni volunteers and Executive Office staff provide performance coaching to our chapters.  This tool should be rolled out in the next week.  Chapters will be asked to enter information retroactively.  When the tool is finished being constructed, chapters will be asked to start using it on that date.
  • To access most of the SOE reports, a Sigma Pi email address is required.  This is to ensure that our chapter leaders are using this email account because important communication is sent to this address.
  • As an educational organization, it is very important that we our developing our members with programming.  The expectation is now that each chapter host or participate in a workshop with a non-active chapter member speaker on the following topics: harm reduction, financial literacy, academic success, etiquette, professional development, goal setting and men’s health.  All of these workshops should be completed each academic year in an effort to help develop our members.
  • We have made some changes to the officer’s monthly reporting system.  The information that we are requesting has been revised and is now more relevant and less repetitive.  We are now requesting that each chapter submits all of their meeting minutes once a month.  This will allow the alumni volunteers and executive office to be more informed on the chapter business that is being conducted as opposed to only receiving one meeting’s minutes each month.  Also, we have now created a 1st Counselor report.  Visit our Monthly Reporting page to learn more about each of these reports.
  • Each year at MYLC, we teach Phired Up’s Dynamic Recruitment model to our chapters.  This is a proven method of fraternity recruitment that we have adopted as our best practice.  Through Dynamic Recruitment, our chapters learn about values-based member selection; using a man’s values as criteria for membership.  We are now asking that each of our chapters identify at least 4 values they will use for selection and we are continuing to ask that the chapter has their recruitment plan in writing.  We are a values-based social organization and it is important that our chapters use Sigma Pi Values and the values of the individual chapter when selecting members.  In addition to utilizing values-based recruitment, we also ask that our chapters are actively using a Names List.  This interactive and shared document allows chapters to track their potential new members.  If a chapter already utilizes a names list, simply share it with your alumni volunteers and Regional Director.  If not, your Regional Director will provide one for you to use.
  • It is very important for our 2nd Counselor to work with their committee chairs to set expectations and goals.  We are now requesting that each 2nd Counselor completes the Committee Expectations & Goals Report to share this information with their alumni volunteers and Executive Office.  This goes back to the same thought with the membership contract; it is very important to manage expectations with our committees as well as our members.
  • In addition to recognizing the founding dates of the sororities on campus, we are now expecting our chapters to recognize the founding dates of the fraternities as well.  It is important that our chapters are contributing members of their respective community and take opportunities to build relations with both the sororities and fraternities on campus.  Recognition can be as simple as a post on social media or some other special observance that the chapter wants to perform.
  • In an effort to further develop our members in their campus communities, we are now expecting each chapter to host at least one social with a non-fraternity/non-sorority organization.  This will help us battle the notion that the fraternity and sorority community is exclusive.  We want our organizations to be more inclusive and this is a great way to do potentially aid in recruitment efforts and institutional relations.
  • On a campus that recognizes fraternity life and has a dedicated campus professional to assist our chapters, it is very important that our chapters take the time to meet with that professional to improve communications and operations.  We are now expecting every chapter that the above mentioned criteria applies to submit a Campus Professional Meeting Confirmation in place of getting an ink signature confirming the frequency of the meeting.  Our expectation is that our chapters are meeting with their campus professionals at least once a month. 
  • The Annual Financial Review Verification is now an online form for the alumni volunteer to complete that confirms a chapter audit has been completed.  Instead of getting an ink signature, like in the Gold Standard, there is a simple form to complete confirming the audit took place.
  • The expectation is that all chapters complete at least two fundraisers a year.  The fundraisers can be for philanthropic projects or for the chapter.  The chapter has full autonomy over this and is encouraged to fundraise as much as possible to help defray from the cost of dues that individual members are paying.
  • Most of our alumni update their contact information with their individual chapter as opposed to the Executive Office.  We are asking that our chapters share their alumni database with our Director of Alumni Services by June 1st so that we can ensure our membership database is up-to-date and our alumni are receiving important communication like how to get involved, fraternity news, The Emerald, Sigma Pi Educational Foundation updates, etc.
  • Membership numbers are now phrased as highest among all IFC fraternities on campus because we want our chapters to strive to be the largest on their respective campus.  The chapter reserves the right to make their own decision regarding the number of members they have (over 25 as required by the bylaws).  The highest amount of points has always been awarded based on this criteria, however the expectation was just worded differently in the Gold Standard.
  • GPA rankings are now phrased as highest among all IFC fraternities or the all-men’s average, whichever is higher, on campus because we want our chapters to strive for academic excellence.  The chapter reserves the right to make their own decision regarding GPA requirements (over 2.25 as required by the bylaws*).  The highest amount of points has always been awarded based on this criteria, however the expectation was just worded differently in the Gold Standard.
  • Province Workshops are a great way for our chapters to network with other chapters in the same geographic area.  Province Archons put a lot of work into developing these leadership opportunities for our members.  We now expect that 50% of the chapter attend their respective annual Province Workshop.

 

This is a pretty comprehensive list of all of the changes that have been incorporated into the new Standards Excellence.  As a student affairs professional and the new Director of Education & Leadership, I am confident that this new program will help build better members and create stronger chapters. Participating and completing the Standards of Excellence will increase communicate, create stronger chapter operations and promote academic excellence just to name a few benefits.  Also, chapters that do well with the SOE Program will qualify for discounts on their Semi-Annual Dues.

 

All of our chapters can easily track their performance through the Standards of Excellence Progress Tracker.  Each chapter has their own individual tab at the bottom of the document.  As the Executive Office receives your reports and submissions, your points will be entered.  Executive councils and alumni volunteers should use this tool to monitor progress and work together to ensure they are achieving to the level they choose.

 

Many of these new reports are explained in detail with samples provided on our SOE page.  I encourage you to take some time to review this information and work with your alumni volunteers, members and Regional Director on developing these programs, documents and reports.  All the information is available; you just have to take some time to read it over.

 

For additional information about the Standards of Excellence, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or your Regional Director.

 

*Please note that the fraternity’s GPA requirements are still under review by the Grand Council and are subject to change.  This information will be communicated once a final determination has been made.

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.

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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:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 615.921.2300

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