“You’ve chosen to do what’s right over what’s easy: to lead rather than take the stereotypical fraternity path. Just like our Founders, you have chosen to be different — and you have made a difference.”
Those were the words of outgoing Grand President Chris Bittman, Colorado ’85, as he closed the Balanced Man Celebration at Conclave. Bittman celebrated the heroes who have improved the SigEp experience for the next generation, pointing to the steps the Fraternity has taken that will lead to even greater strides.
“Two years ago, I asked you and those who attended this celebration before you to be the heroes, leaders and champions that SigEp and our communities need so badly,” he said. “I asked you to provide an experience that others would envy and emulate. To prove that when SigEp is done right, it’s the best experience on campus. You’ve responded to those calls for real change as I knew you would.”
These courageous actions have improved the SigEp experience for generations that will come.
“Our BMP and substance-free learning community initiatives are being celebrated by our campus partners as the future of fraternity,” Bittman said.
A shift in recruitment has been an important driver of change.
“Our annual Brotherhood Assessment shows our investment in relationship building and meaningful recruitment is working,” said Bittman. “Young men who join our Fraternity are joining for the right reasons. The chapters that recruit year-round have higher GPAs, stronger involvement, safer practices and better retention.”
Further, he credited alternative recruitment sources: “This year, across the country, you recruited nearly 40 percent of members outside of the IFC rush process, and 1 in 5 new members were recruited through the Balanced Man Scholarship.”
It’s clear that these changes are paying off, Bittman said. “Our academic performance is at a historic high and is ahead of our peers,” and the changes the Fraternity has made to facilitate health and safety have been effective. “I’m thrilled to share with you tonight that, because of your work, we successfully renewed our insurance at no increase in cost to you. None,” he said.
Chapters leading from the front on their campuses have been critical to the strides the Fraternity has made over the past two years. At the Balanced Man Celebration, 23 chapters were awarded with Buchanan Cups for outstanding recruitment, academic success and bold leadership on their campuses. By being different, these chapters have made a difference.
The ambience of the Balanced Man Celebration matched the excellence awarded. The program was held in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and hosted by comedian Steve Hofstetter, Columbia ’02, who brought both hilarity and sincerity to the ceremony. A shelf of Gold Buchanan Cups — awarded to chapters that have received at least five consecutive Buc Cups — descended from the ceiling. National Board members handed out the awards, and chapters stayed afterward to take pictures with their trophies onstage
In addition to the Buc Cups awarded, Florida Alpha, Virginia Kappa and Virginia Nu were recognized for their perseverance as newly-chartered SigEp chapters. Maine Alpha and Ohio Iota won awards for Conclave attendance, and Wyoming Alpha received the Illinois Alpha Pay It Forward grant to expand their SigEp Learning Community. Brody Tupy, Loras ’20, received the Frank Rader Memorial Wrestling Award.