Note: Photos show chapter events held prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the 2017 Conclave in Orlando, Fla., the Grand Chapter passed groundbreaking legislation moving all SigEp chapters to adopt a substance-free policy by Aug. 1, 2020. While being different is never easy, our undergraduate and alumni leaders understood this step was necessary to move away from the unhealthy, party-centric culture that’s been developing for decades within fraternity and sorority communities and on campuses across the country.
SigEp’s announcement ushered in a wave of similar policies by other organizations, including Beta Theta Pi and Delta Upsilon, which announced plans to go fully substance-free. The North American Interfraternity Conference soon followed, prohibiting hard alcohol from chapter houses and events of its member organizations.
Now, we look forward to creating new traditions in the substance-free era. Our chapters have chosen to embrace this meaningful change by holding events that emphasize brotherhood, giving members the opportunity to have fun together and with their Greek peers.
In celebration that every SigEp chapter has adopted a substance-free facility policy, we’re highlighting some of the many ways chapters have hosted engaging substance-free brotherhood and social activities and how they plan to continue doing so in the coming academic year while social distancing.
Ohio Iota, Toledo
Brothers at the perennial Buchanan Cup-winning chapter at the University of Toledo have enjoyed getting together for movie nights, to play minute-to-win-it-type games and to take salsa dancing lessons. And as part of its sound body programming, the chapter invited a yoga instructor to the chapter facility to lead a class for brothers.
“We also invite sororities over to participate in both fun and philanthropic events,” chapter President Preston Ewald, Toledo ’21, said. Once, a sorority joined the chapter to make dog toys that they donated to a local animal shelter. Another time, brothers invited sorority members over to bake and decorate cupcakes with them.
The chapter has also partnered with other fraternities to host fun events at each other’s houses. One of the chapter’s most popular events was a Super Smash Brothers tournament with their neighbors, Triangle. (Ohio Iota won both the individual and team tournament brackets!)
To follow current social-distancing regulations in Ohio that limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people, the Toledo chapter is planning to hold several social events this fall, including their video game tournaments, online.
Indiana Zeta, Valparaiso
“When we voted to adopt substance-free housing early, the chapter agreed that we still had to have events at our house to keep brothers, and friends alike, coming to and hanging out at the house,” chapter President Charlie Presar, Valparaiso ’21, said.
Since the substance-free initiative began, Presar said Indiana Zeta’s focus has been on holding events that create and enhance brotherhood. Some of the chapter’s many activities have included big/little game nights, attending basketball games and other sporting events together, and going to performances and events other brothers have participated in. This fall, chapter leaders look forward to continuing their well-developed sound body programming by hosting several sports tournaments so brothers can stay fit and socialize at a safe distance.
This Buchanan Cup-winning chapter also has hosted several mixers to get to know members of other fraternities and sororities. Activities have included an ice cream social, a cookout, karaoke events and a floor hockey event. As with their brotherhood events, the chapter is considering holding more outdoor activities, so brothers can continue socializing with other organizations while social distancing.
Louisiana Beta, Louisiana State
Louisiana Beta has held a number of chapter-wide substance-free events aimed at bringing brothers together. Among the most popular have been two-on-two basketball, billiards and video game tournaments. Events like these serve as an opportunity for these academically oriented brothers to take a break from their studies and have fun together. Despite the disruption of in-person classes, this Buchanan Cup-winning chapter earned a phenomenal 3.73 GPA in spring 2020.
The chapter plans to continue these events in the 2020-2021 school year, while also adding new events like cornhole and spikeball that make it easy for brothers to interact while social distancing. The chapter also plans to utilize its back deck — one of the most popular areas in its facility — frequently. “With the back deck being open air and large enough to allow proper distancing, we hope our brothers will take advantage of the space as we try to encourage brotherhood in the substance-free era of Louisiana Beta,” Vice President of Member Development Philip Marr, Louisiana State ’21, said.
Iowa Delta, Drake
SigEp’s Drake chapter is a model for how to successfully operate substance-free, having made the transition at a time when support for doing so was far less widespread than today. Iowa Delta has been completely substance-free since the chapter re-started in 2000, and this practice plays a major role in its culture.
Iowa Delta hosts a wide range of events at its chapter facility, with several having become annual favorites. The Greek community looks forward to the chapter’s Miracle on 34th Street event, where they can enjoy unlimited cocoa and cookies, take pictures with Santa, and hear music by local groups. Attendees bring a toy or pay a $5 admission fee, and the chapter donates the toys and proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.
This Buchanan Cup-winning chapter frequently holds mixers with sororities at its house. At a fall 2019 event, the brothers made apple cider and other seasonal treats with members of Alpha Phi. “Having socials like this at our house helps build our relationships with other chapters and shows how fun substance-free activities can be,” said chapter President Josh Hession, Drake ’21.
Each semester, the chapter also holds a brother retreat or activity. In addition to bringing brothers together for a day of fun, the events include time for members to discuss their values and what SigEp means to them. “We are always striving to have substance-free fun in the house, while also working to better ourselves, both as people and as SigEps,” Hession said.
The passage of SigEp’s substance-free policy has provided an atmosphere where members can gather and live comfortably, knowing that alcohol and drug use will not pose a distraction. Instead, they focus time on academics and campus involvement and form deeper bonds with their chapter brothers.