Brotherly love means modeling the way
Our late Past Grand President Jack Wheeler, North Texas ’61, explained often that he knew of many fraternities who chose brotherhood as a core value, but only one who selected brotherly love. It is the idea of brotherly love that emphasizes the foundations of accountability within Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Brotherhood within fraternities is often misunderstood to mean shielding someone from accountability, while brotherly love means holding men to their promises. Brotherly love means constantly supporting a brother who is facing hard personal choices due to his temptations. It means deflecting a brother from taking inappropriate actions with other persons, from drinking to excess and losing his ability to recognize bad risks, and helping him to develop new habits of behavior. It is this brotherly love that helps to make Sigma Phi Epsilon different in a positive and growth-inducing way.
As we all reflect on what brotherly love means in our own lives, SigEp alumni must consider what we do to promote it among the undergraduate members we influence. As we work with undergraduates, it is imperative that we recognize sharing stories about our own undergraduate excesses — or coming back to campus and perpetuating the social excesses on football Saturdays — sends a dark message to our younger brothers: that excessive drinking and egregious behavior is valued as an integral part of the Fraternity experience.
We, along with the undergraduates, must hold each other accountable to a higher standard. That higher standard is to conduct ourselves in front of our undergraduate mentees with greater prudence, with conscious awareness that we are constantly modeling the sort of appropriate behavior we want undergraduates to assimilate into their daily lives.
Chuck “Doc” Eberly, Ph.D., Bowling Green State ’63
Order of the Golden Heart
I so agree with the need to temper the “war stories” that are often the focal point of alumni gatherings with undergraduates. The world is much different than when I was an undergraduate. Diligent research has expanded our knowledge of the rewards of moderation. The virtue of encouraging our undergraduate brothers to live better lives than we have is truly the opportunity to build a better world … The world needs us to evolve and evoke a different expectation of what it means to be Greek.
Bob Kerr, Wichita State ’75
Order of the Golden Heart
Facing alcohol issues at Sigma Phi Epsilon
Fraternity deaths involving alcohol and drugs have occurred recently at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Iowa, resulting in chapters being banned or suspended. Harvard is considering a proposal to ban all fraternities and sororities by 2018 due to similar issues.
Alcohol abuse is not a new issue, but it is an issue that dominated conversation at SigEp’s 55th Conclave in Orlando this summer. The debate considered whether alcohol and drug use reflected a core value of SigEp, and whether its presence in chapter homes furthered our stated cardinal principles of Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love. The answer was clear to the voting members and should resonate with our alumni.
At my own chapter of Iowa Delta at Drake University, our alumni adopted the dry house concept in 2000. We believe every young man who walks through the red doors of SigEp is precious. We chose to support our cardinal principles rather than a wet house with its inherent risks. In the 17 years since, the chapter has thrived: seven Buchanan Cups, a manpower of more than 110 and the top fraternity GPA. We are also clear leaders in philanthropic activities, post-collegiate employment and graduate school placement.
The hard work starts now for chapters currently operating wet houses, as well as for the alumni and Fraternity staff who will support them in this change. I urge all alumni who have seen and lived in the dry house environment to reach out to your brothers at other chapters and help them make the changes necessary for supporting a substance-free home. You may save the life of a young brother as well as the future of his chapter.
Gary D. Ordway, Drake ’66
Order of the Golden Heart
Young alumnus reflects on college years spent in a dry house
When I was an undergraduate, my chapter was the only chapter on campus at Ohio State that didn’t host parties at its house and wasn’t a haven for alcohol. We had substance-free common areas. In the early going, it was frustrating to be the chapter referred to as the “boy scouts.” But before graduation, I learned there are a few things that happen when your house is free from the alcohol-induced challenges faced by most “frat houses.” Here’s a short list:
- Girls seem to like coming to a house that doesn’t smell like stale beer. The idea that our men would be social pariahs was debunked quickly. Most days, there were as many brothers’ girlfriends hanging out at our house as there were brothers.
- When you can invite your mom and dad into your college home, you’re very likely to keep their support. Parents — who were often helping their sons financially — loved seeing their sons join our chapter because our home supported Sound Mind and Sound Body.
- Alumni find a nice house to be a great place for their donations. Today, our home has remodeled formal rooms, thanks to the confidence alumni have in the chapter.
- The best men on campus aren’t looking to pay expensive membership fees just to drink in a house with their friends. The value we showed potential new members was in our Balanced Man Program and a facility that supported a positive college experience. By the time I graduated, we had six brothers living in our house that served on homecoming court, 10 chosen for class honoraries, and members of student government. Our brothers were typically in the running for just about every important award or honor at one of the largest universities in the country.
I share this with you to show that substance-free housing is no doomsday for SigEp. Instead, it will be an opportunity for those who embrace it. Yes, initially you may lose the men who prioritize drinking over the value they get from the SigEp experience and the Balanced Man Program. And you may have a few vacancies that you weren’t used to having in your chapter houses … for now. Then, as time passes, this will become the new normal and help your chapter thrive as mine has. This is an opportunity that can unlock countless possibilities for our chapters and help us stand out from other fraternities on our respective campuses as the best place to become a balanced man.
Scott W. Phillips Jr.. Ohio State ’05