Heather Kirk, Chief Communication Officer
Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity
FOR RELEASE: Nov. 7, 2019
Sigma Phi Epsilon Departs North American Interfraternity Conference
RICHMOND, Va. — Today, Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) announced that the Fraternity is leaving the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) after serving four years on the trade association’s governing council.
In 2015, SigEp decided to commit to membership in the then-reorganized association commonly referred to as “NIC 2.0.” The Fraternity’s leadership saw it as an opportunity to work collaboratively with peers to shape the Conference’s priorities based on research and best practices. While the NIC has made notable strides in several areas, for fraternities to truly deliver on their promises and espoused values, the Conference must turn greater focus to student safety, personal development and strategic partnership with campus professionals.
“The original vision of NIC 2.0 was one that could have been transformational for fraternity communities, but the Conference is no longer proceeding toward those goals,” said SigEp Chief Executive Officer Brian Warren. “It’s clear that SigEp’s vision for how to enhance health and safety in the fraternity experience and partner with our host institutions has diverged from the NIC’s current approach. At SigEp, we must deploy resources in ways that achieve our priorities.”
SigEp has taken bold steps – removing pledging from the experience, rethinking new member recruitment, training new volunteers to be effective mentors, and implementing substance-free facilities – to provide young men a safe and relevant fraternity experience, one that allows them to develop meaningful relationships and prepares them for life after college.
One of the main reasons for SigEp’s initial investment in NIC 2.0 was the intended focus on collaboration around initiatives that would lead to safer fraternity communities. Yet, many of the NIC’s health and safety initiatives have seen significant cuts in resources and staffing, and there is little to no accountability to ensure policies that have been adopted across the Conference are implemented.
“The NIC’s hard alcohol ban was a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough to address the underlying issues of alcohol and substance abuse, underage drinking, and their connections to issues like hazing and assault,” said Ed Hammond, a retired university president who served as SigEp’s NIC governing council delegate and chaired the NIC’s Commission on Alcohol Abuse. “We had hoped this collective of fraternities with a renewed sense of purpose would take the necessary steps to challenge archaic thinking and antiquated practices.”
Further, the Conference’s increasingly antagonistic approach to campus advocacy and its establishment of Independent Interfraternity Councils – severing ties with host campuses – has led many alumni, undergraduates, campus professionals and other stakeholders to question the NIC’s motives and genuine interest in solving critical concerns.
“Our members and partners are craving more support, more resources, more transparency and more collaboration — not less. We must help bring people together on campuses to address an issue’s root cause, not divide communities,” said Warren.
“Higher ed partners should expect SigEp to work with them – openly and transparently – to give them a strong understanding of the SigEp experience on their campuses and how together, we can continue to improve student success,” he said. “We hope that this active partnership invites collaboration and lessens the need for campuses to resort to system-wide actions that unintentionally penalize students and chapters who are not bad actors.”
While SigEp is not renewing its membership in the NIC, we have a steadfast commitment to the relationships and collaboration within local fraternity communities, and our chapters will remain a part of campus Interfraternity Councils. Further, we know there are like-minded organizations both within and outside of the Conference. SigEp intends to work collaboratively with our interfraternal peers and leaders in higher education to develop and implement strategies that deliver an experience colleges and universities will be proud to host on their campus.
Sigma Phi Epsilon is a college fraternity headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with more than 13,000 undergraduates on 210 campuses across the United States. Established in 1901, its mission is “Building Balanced Men,” which is achieved through a continuous member development program focused on academic achievement, healthy lifestyle choices and leadership development. The Fraternity currently maintains a 3.20 national GPA.