The increase in cases of COVID-19 in the United States has created a lot of uncertainty on campus communities. Universities have embraced online learning strategies, and many students have returned home. In such times, it’s easy to feel disconnected. SigEp is here to help you and your brothers maintain the strong sense of purpose, belonging, and friendships you’ve developed on your campus.
Your regional director will work with you remotely to adjust strategies and continue to advance important priorities of the SigEp experience like year-round recruitment, member development, and Balanced Man Scholarship planning.
As a leader, continuing to drive forward with priorities like recruiting and the BMP — even remotely — will be critical to your chapter’s long-term health. We don’t know how long the period of uncertainty related to COVID-19 will last, but we do know that your leadership over the next few weeks will determine your chapter’s future when this period of uncertainty is over.
We are crowdsourcing ideas for ways to share brotherhood and personal development virtually. Staying connected during this time will help grow a real sense of brotherhood and belonging. This not only will help your chapter stay strong until you're able to return for campus, but helps our brothers keep a sound mind.
Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out the different operations sections below for tips and ideas to keep your chapter connected in this time.
Virtual Chapter Operations
Need to meet one-on-one “in person” – for example, with a potential new member who you want to stay connected with?
- Facetime (Apple) or an Android video calling app is great for one-on-one calls.
Want to host a virtual meeting for a group – for example, a recruitment committee meeting, executive board meeting, AVC meeting, or BMP challenge meeting?
- If you have a gmail account, Google offers Hangouts where up to 10 can meet via video. You can meet on demand, or schedule through your Google calendar by “adding conferencing.”
- Zoom also offers free video conferencing for up to 100 people. Calls are limited to 40 minutes with the free version.
Need to host a larger group – maybe the whole chapter for a workshop, meeting or program? Or need to record the meeting to share later?
Your Regional Director can set up a virtual meeting for up to 250 people using SigEp Headquarters Google G-Suite account. This tool also allows you to record the meeting to share with members who might not be able to attend.
- Virtual workouts: Have a brother lead a fitness workout via Zoom. This would be similar to a Peloton class, but led by a brother. Or do one of these daily online workouts, provided by OrangeTheory.
- Video game tournament: Organize regular times to play a video game together online, or host a tournament.
- Fit fam: For Sound Body, look to trackers like Run Keeper, Strava, Fitbit, etc. Use these tools to start a virtual competition to see who can beat the top scores during the week. Be sure to practice safe social distancing when you’re working out!
- (Virtually) Tour a National Park together.
- Movie Night: Watch an movie or show, and comment on it together using the Netflix Party Chrome extension.
- Checking in: Split the chapter into smaller groups, and assign an executive board member to each group and have them host virtual brotherhood meet-ups based on what people are most interested in doing.
- Building relationships: Pair each member of the chapter together with someone they do not have a great opportunity to connect with throughout the year. Encourage them to connect at least once within the week either via phone or a video call. Check out this randomizer to make your life a little easier when randomizing pairings or small groups. Rotate groups around every few weeks or so. This would be especially great for newer brothers the chapter may not know as well yet.
- If your chapter recruited new brothers this semester, think about how you can intentionally reach out to them during this time. Excitement is often high after joining, and you don’t want them to feel lost. Get them engaged with some virtual committees early on. See if there are any of them that want to continue to lead engagement for their new member class throughout this virtual period. Encourage them to utilize some of the same resources the chapter leadership is using to maintain chapter engagement.
- Hanging out: Set a weekly time for an hour where brothers can just come in, hangout and catch-up via Zoom. It doesn’t have to be structured. Sometimes just shooting the stuff is what you need.
Recruitment is the lifeblood of your chapter, seniors are about to graduate, and retention can be challenging over summer months. It will be critical for the health of your chapter to continue recruitment efforts. Here are ways to do that virtually — connecting person-to-person, even while social distancing.
- Establish weekly recruitment committee meetings over Google Hangout, Zoom or conference call. Use this as a time to clean up your potential new member list and add more names to the list.
- Work your PNM list! Continue to interact with PNMs digitally. Conduct member interviews through video chat, play an online video game together to interact, etc. Most importantly, make sure you're staying in touch with PNMs throughout the time you're away from campus.
- Reach out to legacies. This is a population who likely already has knowledge of what SigEp stands for, what he can gain from it and what he can give.
- Extend bids via Facetime or video call (*if restrictions aren't in place). Mail or email a bid card, and follow up to get him registered.
- If your chapter has PNMs sign bid cards, this is a free online tool where you can upload a PDF of the bid card and send it to a PNM to sign.
- Since there may not be in-person aspects of chapter operations to involve him in right now, set up time virtually for the chapter to connect. There are loads of ideas for brotherhood events in the BMP section.
- Continue fall 2020 Balanced Man Scholarship prep/plan execution on bi-weekly Google Hangout/Zoom check-ins. It's crucial that this work continues, so chapters are still on track for once you're back on campus. (See http://sigep.org/bms for resources and marketing help, or email email@example.com.)
- Speaking of retention being challenging … It's all about helping people stay connected! If they are able to keep strong friendship ties and find value in SigEp during this time, they’re far more likely to return to the chapter in the fall. Utilize the programming ideas in the BMP section to help brothers continue to bond virtually.
Continuing BMP challenges will provide members with distinct value of their SigEp experience during this trying time. It can provide a balance to online coursework and give brothers a sense of purpose to their time away from normal chapter activities. Here are ways to keep your chapter’s Balanced Man Program moving forward.
- Vice President of Member Development and development committee meet with regional director or balanced man steward to create a list of fun challenge activities to host remotely the remainder of the semester.
- Schedule activities and send out a calendar invite to all members in a given challenge.
- Track individual members progress on each challenge while being remote.
- Send brothers encouragement and kudos for finishing challenges (memes, gifs -- have fun with it).
Stay connected and provide value through the SigEp experience by using these fun “virtual” programming ideas — and ways to increase brotherhood and personal development — crowdsourced from chapters across the country.
- Alumni webcast series: Ask an alumni to share his professional experience weekly with the chapter via Zoom.
- Mock interviews: Leveraging alumni, conduct mock interviews via Zoom to prepare for internship interviews.
- Philanthropy: Do an online push to raise funds for a community outlet providing critical assistance at this time, like a local food bank.
- Host a book club.
- Master a new hobby or learn about a new topic. There are loads of online resources to learn new skills. Here are a few:
First time taking courses online? Watch this webinar hosted by SigEp Matt Dube, Maine ‘07, a professor of Computer Information Systems and Data Science. Matt is a long-time chapter counselor and teaches online courses, and in this presentation, he shares tips and best practices for succeeding in classes online.
We have a few chapters still working to implement a substance-free facilities bylaw by the May 1 deadline, and others are seeking to improve their ability to recruit on a substance-free message or implement strong programming. Here are tips to work with your chapter virtually toward those goal:
- Schedule a meeting with your executive board and regional director to develop a plan and implement a completely substance-free facility bylaw before May 1.
- If you have this bylaw in place, schedule a time with your regional director to have one or all of the following training:
- Substance-free recruitment training with your Vice President of Recruitment and recruitment committee.
- Substance-free programming training with your Vice President of Programming and programming committee.
- Substance-free accountability training with your chaplain and standards.
- Host a virtual town hall with your regional director to gain buy-in for a completely substance-free facility operating in fall 2020.
Take advantage of the extra time to prepare to hit the ground running when school is back in session in the fall:
- Create a summer and fall action plan with your local volunteers, regional director and executive board on a Google Hangout.
- Create a plan to apply to become a SigEp Learning Community with your local volunteers and regional director. *Don’t forget — to apply for a Buchanan Cup, your chapter has to be a re-accredited SigEp Learning Community.*
- Create a plan to apply for a Buchanan Cup next year with your local volunteers and regional director.
- Create a plan to present to your university administration in the fall. This presentation would discuss the chapter’s goals, how they align with the community goals and how the university can help.
Volunteers are the key to continuity for chapter members, and can be a critical outlet as officers and members grapple with their changing environment. Here is guidance to working with hour undergraduate brothers in this time:
- Check-in with officers on a weekly basis via Zoom or Google Hangout.
- During times of uncertainty, it is important to support our brothers, especially those tasked with leading our chapters. This will help officers establish and maintain a sense of normalcy and of support while campuses may be closed.
- Work with our undergraduate brothers through any fears or frustrations that they might have about their school’s current status. Whether they are concerned about commencement ceremonies being canceled, the academic uncertainty of remote learning, or concerns around food insecurity, it will be important that during these check-ins, you focus on how students are doing personally as well as how chapter operations are adapting to a virtual experience.
- Help establish virtual chapter meetings with chapter officers.
- Once you have confirmed the health and safety of our members, support chapter officers in establishing virtual operations for the chapter. Use the resources on this page to help undergraduates become familiar with the tools at their disposal to ensure their chapter remains engaged and operational.
- Encourage officers to hold executive board meetings weekly via Zoom or Google Hangout, and coach them on what should be on the agenda:
- How is everyone feeling? Mentally? Physically? Emotionally?
- When normal operations resume, what do we need to have in place? How do we get ahead of that now? What core areas of chapter operations do we need to have in place to ensure chapter success/sustainability moving forward? (warm leads in PNM list, BMP schedules in place and ready to execute, etc.)
- Establish operational priorities during the following weeks and months to ensure that our undergraduates continue to steward and lead the chapter. Whether establishing a weekly schedule of committee video-calls, working on the application to become a SigEp Learning Community, using tools like Zoom and GroupMe to stay connected, or encouraging brotherhood through chapter-wide gaming sessions on virtual platforms (XBOX, Playstation, etc.) -- staying connected is so important. It will be up to the undergraduate leadership to continue building the sense of brotherhood in the chapter and ensure that the chapter is able to continue operating.
- Engage other alumni to support the chapters BMP via virtual “Ted talks” or webinars around a subject matter, establishing mock interviews for upperclassmen, developing a virtual senior recognition or ceremony (a la Hoop of Steel), or working with faculty fellows on remote learning and academic support are a couple of ways that chapter’s can think outside of the box to continue adding value to our undergraduates even though they may not be on campus.
- Communicate chapter/volunteer/alumni needs to broader audiences.
- As our undergraduates are settling into their virtual environments, ask them about specific areas of support or needs that they might have. Communicate those needs to your alumni and volunteer base, campus fraternity and sorority life office, and the chapter’s regional director.
- We are all committed to building a great SigEp experience. If our undergraduate officers, volunteers or alumni have a question or a new idea to support the transition to a virtual experience, it will be paramount to communicate with SigEp and the campus at large. By crowdsourcing and relying on other’s strengths, we will be able to create the best experience possible for our members. Reach out to us via email, phone, or social media, we are here to help.