1st in a series of informative articles - Background: How did we get here?

Brothers, I thought it helpful to address the background and steps that have led to our adoption of health and safety initiatives for Sigma Chi Fraternity.

For some time Sigma Chi has wrestled with increasing behavior centered around excessive alcohol consumption, hazing (often combined with excessive alcohol consumption) and negative stereotypes from media, university officials, etc. to the point that one recent major university official when asked how to deal with the problems at University XYZ, said "Get Rid of the Greeks". Negative media exposure increased 46% in 2017 alone and the tidal wave that started with the unfortunate death at Penn State, is gaining momentum.

Some months ago, the Sigma Chi Executive Committee voted to increase its commitment to a revamped NIC (National Interfraternity Council) composed of the major hitters in the fraternity world. It was obvious that the best strategy to deal with increasing pressure was to "speak with one voice" and advocate for responsible behavior and health and safety let alone dealing with university relations. That has proven to have been one of the smartest moves we could have made. During the Fall Semester of 2017, NIC (and non-NIC) fraternities were losing on an average of 1 chapter a DAY to closure to incidents of poor behavior by individuals in an environment of chapters held accountable for the behavior of several of its members. Additionally, there have been other deaths related to hospital transports and hazing incidents since the Penn State hazing death leading to shutdowns of whole Greek Systems (Fraternity and Sorority) all across North America and they are continuing. This has created a toxic environment for us as Fraternity Executives leading to our Grand Consul calling for an emergency EC meeting where these policies were unanimously approved including by our two undergrad reps. These times call for COURAGE. The alternative was to do nothing and wait for our 160+ year-old grand fraternity to go the way of the dinosaur or be managed by the host universities.

At the same time, many of our contemporaries including SAE and Sig Ep and several others have or are doing away with the pledge education program. They require a potential new member to be initiated within 72-96 hours. That is totally unacceptable to Sigma Chi as we feel this experience lasts a lifetime and is integral to our selection of who initiate into our order. Universities think it is just one long hazing continuum and see no value in the process. Our award-winning Preparation for Brotherhood Program (P4B) is two years old and has made measurable improvements in Sigma Chi and hazing incidents have dropped considerably. We had adopted an 8-week program (or less in some situations) but in dealing with this new climate, we are modifying our pledge education to 4-5 weeks and telling our university partners this is it for us. There will be some post initiation training that did not exist before to provide the non values-based learning to these new brothers. We will deal with situations where some universities require less than 4-5 weeks or requiring no education prior to initiation.

An important statistic is that undergrad recruitment numbers dropped for Fall 2017 for the first time in 15 years after healthy increases annually. Parents are questioning whether Greek Life should be a part of their son's experience. We have to act.

CAMAC (Chapter and Member Accountability Committee) which I have served on and I am a current member, has seen cases double and increasing and the majority of these are alcohol-related. We had to act.

I will work with any committee or group at any of the Grand Canyon Province chapters working on these issues. We must show that we can self-govern before the Board of Regents is forced to act under pressure. Our contemporaries have the same issues Sigma Chi has and they are all our NIC partners so we all will be moving in a direction to alter behavior. Do we need help from the sororities? Absolutely. But, we must act to show the world that Sigma Chi is a values-based organization and a real benefit to creating lifelong experiences for our members and future members. We must show VALUE.

We are NOT a drinking club. Is social a big part of the UG experience. Of course it is. However, as the drinking age was changed across North America to 21 and kegs were prohibited, the use of hard alcohol became more and more prevalent and we find ourselves in our current state. We are NOT going to dry housing at this time like many other fraternities as we will allow the use of below 15% alcohol (beer and wine) but only following RMF risk policies and using a third-party vendor. Hard alcohol as of Feb. 1 is banned in the house.

We have before us a challenge. Adapt or perish. You may think we are expecting a lot from our undergrad brothers. That is because the world expects more from us than it does other men. Either our order is based on Friendship, Justice and Learning, or it is based on Jim Beam.

I challenge all of you to support the initiatives adopted by the General Fraternity. It will be difficult at first but we can do it- we are Sigma Chi after all. We need your help and support.

More to come...Steve.

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