Even as we’ve experienced what feels like a never-ending series of shifting, evolving and pivoting throughout the pandemic, there’s one thing that’s remained a steady constant for college men: SigEp.
In a reality where isolation became a necessity to protect health and safety, joining an organization like SigEp helped students maintain a sense of connection. The Fraternity not only provided a means to form genuine friendships, it also provided development opportunities at a time when a lot of university programming was not available.
When universities canceled in-person classes and sent students home, SigEp encouraged chapters to host events online. The Fraternity adapted in-person programs Ruck Leadership Institute and Tragos Quest to Greece to a virtual format, and continued to complement the college experience through the Balanced Man Program and Career Coaching. When classes resumed in fall ’20, 80 chapters met or exceeded fall ’19 recruitment levels — a clear signal that potential new members were hungry for connection and development beyond the classroom.
Knowing that the fall would likely be different than he expected, Ben Kramek, IIT ’23, was proactive about finding an organization to help him form connections with other students.
“With so many opportunities to make friends taken away by the pandemic, SigEp offered me an opportunity to share a new, life-changing experience with new, lifelong friends,” said Kramek, who joined SigEp during the summer of 2020. “Joining is a decision I’ll never regret, and now as vice president of recruitment, it’s exciting knowing our newest brothers will be joining us on this one-of-a-kind journey.”
Before the pandemic, Zach Lovelace, Missouri ’24, had looked forward to building a community of friends in college, but was uncertain how he’d connect with new people in the era of social distancing. When he met the SigEps at Missouri, he discovered a group of people whose “personalities shine through even in Zoom calls.” In the process of looking for new friends, Lovelace said he found much more. “The brothers genuinely care about each other. Whatever we need, there’s going to be somebody who’s there to help us.”
Countless new SigEp brothers have shared similar sentiments over the past year: Joining SigEp provided them a sense of community and development opportunities during this time of isolation. Virtual and socially distant brother-bonding activities provided opportunities to cultivate genuine relationships. And chapters have shown creativity in facilitating Balanced Man Program challenge activities by using technology to help new brothers acclimate into the Fraternity and college through online leadership workshops. SigEp has pivoted, yet remained a beacon of fellowship and development for our members.
Other new brothers who weren’t initially interested in being in a fraternity say they became convinced that joining SigEp during the pandemic and while physical distancing would make college a much more rewarding experience after seeing the genuine bonds of friendship among brothers who were already in their campus chapters.
This goes to show that despite whatever obstacles life may throw at us, SigEp can and will endure. Joining SigEp, even during a pandemic, is a positive decision that can change a brother’s life for the better.