That’s what every member of my chapter said each week as we closed our meetings.
My chapter brothers were white, African American, Latin American, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. Most of them came from working class families, and many were first generation Americans. In our diversity we gained understanding. In our SigEp ritual and fraternal experience we found common ground and strength. When I graduated from Cal Poly, I was a much better man for having been a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
And that’s the prism through which I view my SigEp experience today. It’s why I donate time and money to my Fraternity, and why I’ve worked to include my wife and children on my continuing SigEp journey.
It is also why it is difficult for me to comprehend how someone who calls himself my brother and a fellow SigEp can do something so far flung from our organizational values as what happened last week at Ole Miss. The desecration of the statue of civil rights pioneer James Meredith by so-called SigEps stands in stark contrast to our Fraternity’s legacy of diversity. From 1959 forward, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, our fraternity has constantly and consistently reaffirmed that we are concerned about the content of your character, not the color of your skin, or your religious affiliation, or your sexual orientation.
As someone who has championed diversity throughout my volunteer experience, I am proud of the swift action taken by my undergraduate brothers at Ole Miss, and proud of the response of my fellow Greeks on that campus. I also know that this is an anomaly, and not something that is reflective of the Fraternity that I deeply know and love. And although it is an anomaly, what happened at Ole Miss is a harsh reminder that we need to be ever vigilant in the pursuit and protection of our Cardinal Principles of Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love. We need to remember that brotherhood is not a noun. Brotherhood, for us, is a word of action. It involves daily choices to be made, and actions to be taken that are reflective of what we stand for personally and organizationally.
What happened at Ole Miss should never happen again, whether at the hands of someone affiliated with our Fraternity or someone else. And the biggest statement that we, as a brotherhood, can make, is to make sure that our actions going forward respect our history and reflect our values.
I remain proud to be a SigEp.