Who is your hero? Is there someone who comes immediately to mind?
Bob Kerr, Wichita State ’75, was my chapter counselor when I was a 19-year-old moron. Yes, I had some growing up to do. My chapter brothers would probably tell you that when I arrived in Boulder I was likely depriving some village of their idiot. Bob acted like a father to me at a time when I was separated from my own father. He reminded me of right from wrong. He had high expectations of me — and he pushed me to start setting an example for others. He was my hero when I desperately needed one.
SigEp needs heroes today, too. At Conclave last August, our undergraduate leaders decided to confront the alcohol-centric focus of fraternities by eliminating alcohol and substances from our chapter homes. Since then, brothers have rallied to take steps to educate themselves on this shift and implement it at their chapters. In every case, SigEp heroes stepped up to help make it happen.
Steven Caloiaro, Nevada-Reno ’08, is a hero. As chapter counselor, Steve worked with brothers at Nevada-Reno one-on-one to help give them the confidence to buck the trend on their campus and embrace a different concept of fraternity. He worked diligently to find and recruit alumni mentors who would provide guidance and accountability. Steve also helped the chapter plan for its future, leading one of the first alumni fundraising efforts. This ultimately allowed the chapter to renovate study space and pave the way for future renovations that will equip chapter brothers with safe and effective places to live and learn. Undergraduates say Steve has been a hero by holding them accountable to their goals — ensuring that they do their best.
Our brothers at the University of Northern Iowa are heroes. A year ago, the Iowa Theta Chapter made the unanimous decision to reject the campus norm and embrace a fraternity experience that values healthy relationships and character development over the alcohol-centered one we see all too often. The chapter adopted a substance-free home policy and has seen incredible results. The chapter applied for and was granted Residential Learning Community accreditation. The new member GPA increased by 0.20, and its manpower has risen to the highest on campus. The chapter has recruited a community fellow to train brothers to be mentors while giving them the opportunity to put their learning into practice.
At UCLA, the SigEp brothers have been heroes while battling a challenging Greek culture. While the university has had many incidents over the past two semesters, causing the IFC to pause all social events, the SigEp chapter has been leading a constructive conversation about substancefree housing within the IFC. Despite fears about how recruitment might be impacted, the California Omicron Chapter clearly articulated to potential new members in the fall and spring that the house was going to be dry in common spaces this coming year. As a result, recruitment numbers were as strong or stronger than other fraternities on campus, and a clear message was sent to the entire campus that SigEp intends to create a new normal for fraternities.
In the midst of this progress, some chapters have decided to close rather than change. But hundreds of new volunteers have joined us, more of the right men are becoming SigEps, and more chapters each week are making a stand on their campus. We’ve also seen more organizations willing to join our cause, including Beta Theta Pi and Delta Upsilon, both of which recently announced plans to implement similar substance-free measures.
I am grateful for all of our heroes and leaders and champions — just like the ones mentioned above. But … we need you. You can choose to be a hero by mentoring a young brother or choosing to stand for our principles even if it’s unpopular. When you choose to be a SigEp hero, you can be confident that you will change someone’s life for the better. And for that, I will always be grateful.