Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why Build a Rock Chapter?

"Fraternity expansion is the process whereby a fraternity colony, or provisional chapter, is established at a college/university campus. "Colonization" occurs when a chapter had never before existed on campus, whereas "recolonization" occurs when a dormant or closed chapter is re-established on campus.

Sigma Nu's expansion motto is "Building Rock Chapters." A Rock Chapter in Sigma Nu Fraternity is, by definition, one of the finest fraternities at its host institution and one of the finest fraternity chapters across the North American continent. The intent of our expansion program on every campus is to lay the strong foundation upon which a Rock Chapter can be built.

Expansion can be a long and challenging process and is not necessarily for every campus. However, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students on those campuses where Sigma Nu expands."

The above three paragraphs are taken directly off the Sigma Nu Fraternity website and summarizes Sigma Nu’s expansion policy. I have talked to and debated this issue with many alumni. For 50 years we operated as a Sigma Nu chapter. We were never a rock chapter. We have many incredibly successful alumni. Our brotherhood was second to none. Why is it important to have a Rock Chapter?

The effort needed to re-colonize a chapter is huge. The Universities now expect their Greek Organizations to be laced with super powers. Like everything on a University campus, every year the bar gets set higher and higher. What we strove for and saw as incredibly successful in the past doesn’t even meet “Gold” standards today. Attending periodic meetings on campus with Alumni and Greek Advisers, listening to what is expected and reviewing the accreditation evaluations, I’ve become very aware of the standards today’s fraternities are expected to meet and encouraged to exceed.

This is why our National Organization has invested so heavily in developing the resources needed for a successful “Rock” chapter. They have remodeled the modern fraternity organization that looks nothing like what many of us grew up with:

            1. The Chapter Advisor model, where a chapter has one Alumni Advisor they look to for all their guidance and advice, does not work.

            2. The finances are more complicated than many small businesses.

            3. You not only need to get to know all your pledge brothers, actives and some alumni, you’re expected to interact with the whole Greek community. Now, I’m not talking about having “Joints” with Sororities either, we’re talking about getting together with other Fraternities and Sororities to do major events together, i.e., philanthropies, community service, leadership seminars, risk management seminars.

            4. You must be active on campus. Involvement with campus organizations is required.

These are all part of the Greek organization of today’s college campus.

To take a group of college students with common ideals is just not enough. Throwing a group of students together and saying organize your chapter and here is what is expected of you doesn’t work. There has to be an organized plan put together that is well thought out and organized to make sense for students to be able to see some value and worth in what they are being asked to do.

The demands of a college student today are so overwhelming there has to be true value and worth when looking at adding a whole new dimension to the puzzle.

Sigma Nu Fraternity has invested millions of dollars and thousands of man hours in putting programs together to give our chapters the best fighting chance to become the most respected and successful chapters on University campuses across our nation.

Part of this whole process, maybe the most critical part, is a strong and active Alumni Organization. This is the Rock to building Rock Chapters. The only way this plan works is with involved Alumni who are willing to contribute a few hours, once a month to guide and advise our chapter.

The social Fraternity that strives to have the best parties on campus and attract the best Sororities does not have any chance of surviving. Students want and expect more today. In a recent survey asking the question to incoming freshmen that have gone through rush and not joined a Fraternity, why did you not join a Fraternity? The answer was overwhelmingly, they just party too much.

If you really dig deep down into your memory bank, do you remember the most important reason you joined Sigma Nu? Yes, I’m sure it started as a great place to find a party. You had some incredible (or maybe you can’t remember) party memories. I was social chairman one spring semester. I remember the pressure. Everyone is looking to you for the time of their life. Each month had to top the last. But what I really joined Sigma Nu for were the ideals we all strive to live by. We had a great time, but without those ideals it would have just been a bunch of hollow events.

Getting back to my question, building a rock chapter is OUR legacy to Eta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity. I remember all too well the awful emptiness in the pit of my stomach as the Executive Director informed us that the High Council had decided to Suspend Eta Kappa Chapter. The sad, heart-wrenching feeling as Eta Kappa - San Diego State University scrolled across the screen at Grand Chapter, listing the suspended chapters during the prior biennium.

You need to be passionate about Sigma Nu and want to leave this legacy for all those coming after us and before us.

1 comment:

  1. Everything Jim Stark wrote is true. Times have changed and with that the fraternity scene has changed whether one is referencing Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc. or SDSU. At some point over the years SDSU created a Greek Life Department and began the process of attempted micromanagement of fraternities and sororities. Today we have people employed by SDSU who earn their living by monitoring fraternities and sororities and enforcing a variety of requirements that Greeks must meet.

    The Greek Life department isn’t a bad thing. It is an oversight process that many of us did not have while we were in college. Greek Life grades fraternities and sororities in accordance with their participation in various activities that Greek Life advocates for them such as philanthropic activities. We will be learning more of the details of this process as we move forward toward the reestablishment of our active chapter. For old timers like me, the tight control SDSU exercises over fraternity rush amazes me.

    Some alumni like myself who are old dogs will have to learn new tricks if we are to mentor and guide the young men of our chapter. Sigma Nu was and is a piece of gold in my life and I hope it was in yours too.

    Today so many of our alumni brothers are enmeshed in careers and family that they may forget about Sigma Nu which is, indeed, a loss for them and the rest of us. Sigma Nu is for Life, not just college! We all have our fond and not so fond memories of our collegiate days and our collegiate Sigma Nu experience. Today we need many alumni brothers to step up and support the effort to return Eta Kappa to SDSU.
    I will never forget the late afternoon of December 7, 1960, when a man in his 60s wearing a gray suit arrived at our little rented fraternity house on Stanley Avenue a mile away from SDSU. He was Dr. Edward Hashinger, the retired Dean of the Medical School at Kansas and a former Regent of Sigma Nu Fraternity. He sold us that afternoon and he used his contacts to help us which culminated in the events of February 23, 1963 and especially our initiation! It was a proud moment for us and if we do things effectively and honestly now, there will be a second time that a group of young men receive the honor of being re-founders of a chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity. It is ironic that the first young man to be initiated will be HK 1,000! There is a lot of history between HK 1 and HK 1,000 and I look forward to the day that number 1,000 will become a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity for LIFE!