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Being a Big Brother Is… 

Updates from Lexington

Each chapter’s candidate education program usually includes a few milestone events that mark pivotal moments in the candidate’s journey towards knighthood. Those events might include the Candidate and Initiation Ritual ceremonies, the candidate class retreat, or a pilgrimage to the Headquarters Shrine in Lexington, Va.  

For many Sigma Nu initiates, the event in their candidate program that stands out above all else is when their Big Brother was revealed, often referred to as Big Brother / Little Brother Night. This night is oftentimes the start of a lifelong close relationship. That relationship can play a pivotal role in the candidate becoming a good college student and good Knight of the Legion of Honor.  

Given its importance, chapters should pay careful attention to ensuring the Big Brother program structure is designed to effectively meet its intended objectives. A few tips to consider for that structure: 

  1. Set the right tone – the ceremony at which the Big Brother / Little Brother pairings are revealed sets the tone for what this is relationship is supposed to be about. As with all candidate activities, absolutely no alcohol should be involved in the event. Your Big Brother is not supposed to your drinking buddy. It is supposed to be much deeper than that. He should be your mentor, coach, accountability partner, etc. Consult the Candidate Development portion of the Best Practices Library for several examples Big Brother ceremonies.  

  1. Set the right expectations – do not just let any member serve as a Big Brother. Big Brother is supposed to be the model of what it means to be a good Sigma Nu member. How does your chapter define a “good” member – a certain GPA, no past due financial balance, active participation, etc.? Only let those members who possess the characteristics of a good member and have the time and willingness necessary to effectively fulfill the important responsibilities of being a Big Brother. Check out the Fraternity’s “A Big Is…” poster and accompanying discussion guide to help remind chapter members the role a Big Brother is supposed to serve. 

  1. Set up for success – as, with other areas of chapter operations, the best way to ensure the Big Brother program consistently achieves its intended objectives (i.e. create a supportive mentor/mentee relationship for candidates) is to have a thoughtfully developed plan written down. At a minimum, this plan should include the details of the Big Brother / Little Brother ceremony, qualifications to be eligible to serve as a Big Brother, and expectations of the Big Brother role. The Fraternity’s “Building a Big Brother Program” resource is a helpful guide to developing this plan.  

Remember, serving as a Big Brother is a privilege in which one plays a critical role in mentoring a young member of the Fraternity. Serving this role effectively can help ensure success not only for the candidates but also for the chapter as its newest members are more prepared to succeed in college and take on the challenges of leading the chapter to new and sustained success. 

© 2015-2019 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: 540.463.1869 | Fax: 540.463.1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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