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Living the Way of Honor

Updates from Lexington

Living the Way of HonorWhen I first joined Sigma Nu over 50 years ago, I was most impressed with Past Regent Dick Vaughan’s (Texas) “The Way of Honor.” Some of what he wrote in the very first page encouraged me as I sought to become an initiated member of Sigma Nu.  

Vaughan wrote: “Sigma Nu is an Honor Fraternity. It has been from the beginning. When James  

Frank Hopkins started gathering material at VMI for the Legion of Honor, which was to become Sigma Nu, he had one towering standard: he sought men who could govern each act by a high sense of honor.”  

Vaughan continued(Hopkins) welded them into a fraternity, not a club, for men, not boys, based upon the Honor Principle, not expediency and situational ethics.” 

In the Story of Sigma Nu, John C. Scott (Purdue) reminds us that our Fraternity started as a reaction to the “recognized functions of hazing” which were present at VMI in 1866. Scott writes, “extremes in the conduct of hazing still were practiced, however, and contention among the cadets over the abandonment of the custom brought bitter division.” 

Into that arena came our founders – Hopkins, Quarles, and Riley. It is clear that our founders were opposed to the excessive amount of hazing that seemed to be present at VMI.  

Regent Vaughan wrote “we don’t pledge boys; we pledge MEN. We treat them like men, not boys. There’s a sharp distinction. Hazing is kid stuff. It is forbidden by Sigma Nu law, by most college rules, and by most state statutes. Like other items on a long list of so-called ‘traditional’ fraternity practices it has no place whatsoever in fraternity especially in Sigma Nu.” 

My brothers, if we are truly living the Creed of Sigma Nu, we are to be opposed inalterably to hazing. If we want to be honorable men, conducting ourselves “by a high sense of honor, then we need to recognize how important it is to not allow any vestiges of hazing to be present in our chapters. 

We have all heard horror stories of hazing that have occurred at various chapters, some of which unfortunately are Sigma Nu chapters, causing great distress, injuries, and sadly, even deaths. If we really live love, honor, and truth, we have no room for hazing in our Fraternity. 

But someone could say, “OK what is hazing?” If you think it is hazing, it probably is. One simple definition I have recommended to chapters in my many years as a Division Commander is “would you do this in front of your mother?  If it meets that litmus test, most likely it might not be hazing. But lineups, personal servitude, physical punishment of any sort, to name a few examples, are all forms of hazing. 

There have been times when candidates have been subjected to hazing because some didn’t know the answers to questions posed by initiated members of their chapter.  That is wrong. That is not to say that candidates should not know about our illustrious history. Far from it. But our candidates need to know the correct history of our Fraternity. They need to know about the lives of our founders. They need to recognize and see how we live “a keen sense of right and wrong; adherence to action or principles considered right; integrity, as: he conducts himself with honor.” Please note what Webster says and what Regent Vaughan repeats, uprightness, mercy, justice, respect, a fine sense of one’s obligation. 

This is written as our Fraternity’s introduction to National Hazing Prevention Week. NHPW is an opportunity for campuses, schools, communities, organizations, and individuals to come together and talk about hazing in their communities, raise awareness about the problem of hazing, educate others about hazing, and promote the prevention of hazing. HazingPrevention.Org™ is the sponsor and organizer of National Hazing Prevention Week which is held the last full week of September each year.” 

As Sigma Nus the most important part of the description of NHPW is “promote the prevention of hazing.”  May we truly live Love, Honor, Truth, and Nothing Less, as we encourage all of our brothers and candidates to reach out to practice what our Founders desired. 

Father Joe Weber (Michigan State/Washington University in St. Louis) 
Division Commander 

© 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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