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Sigma Nu's Pandemic Perseverance Stories

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The fall academic term has been unlike any other that Sigma Nu’s collegiate chapters have faced before. However, despite the significant disruption and chaos this pandemic has caused on college campuses, Sigma Nu’s collegiate brothers have risen to meet the challenge head on.

The following testimonials represent what is possible when men are given the opportunity to excel as ethical leaders, take on the challenges of today, and put into practice Sigma Nu’s founding principles of Love, Honor, and Truth.

While these stories don’t represent the entire scope of the Legion of Honor, they give a marvelous and unique glimpse into how Sigma Nu excelling with honor amidst this pandemic, thanks in large part to the spirit of its collegiate brothers.

Gamma Mu (Illinois)

Matt Ellsworth, Risk Reduction Chairman

Gamma Mu owes its success to the diligence and support of every brother in this battle. As a brotherhood, it was made clear that the number one way to uphold Love, Honor, and Truth in the time of a pandemic is to understand the collective goals of safety and prosperity. It is with immense pride that we can amount our success to the collective help of every member to prevent the virus from spreading within the chapter house, as well our alumni who have generously donated the resources necessary to make our chapter as safe as possible. Along with these resources, the outstanding testing operation run by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the help from the General Fraternity to make a safe yet enticing transition to online operations, Gamma Mu Chapter has had zero COVID-19 cases within the chapter house, and that is a number we are proud to share.

We have been hard at work to think of every worst-case scenario and plan for it. Over the summer, the Executive Board went through multiple drafts of a Preventative Measures and Protocols Guideline to ensure the safety of every brother within the chapter house, and uphold all ordinances and guidelines placed by the state and our University. We are grateful and lucky that we have not had to deal with the virus itself and hope we can continue to model positive behavior.

Iota Lambda (Jacksonville State)

Jaret Gallops, Commander

There were a lot of challenges that were presented to the Iota Lambda Chapter due to COVID-19. Between the school being on the brink of not allowing students to return to the cancellation of various activities throughout the school year, the brothers knew effort and communication were going to be critical to success.

The chapter began recruitment early in the summer through various small-scale and socially distanced social events and online informational meetings. This dedicated approach to recruitment resulted in a 123% increase in manpower. The chapter has also been very aggressive when it comes to LEAD. Our LEAD Chairman has created an easy system to switch between virtual and in-person meetings at a moment’s notice if the need arises.

Even with COVID-19 affecting our chapter operations, we have increased our financial strength tremendously. The Treasurer, assisted by others on the Executive Committee, created a new formula for adjusting dues on a month-to-month basis according to what was due, when it was due, and how many actives were in the chapter. This has led to paying off debts, paying rent and utilities on time, and working with the General Fraternity to get on a payment plan that is beneficial to both parties.

Beta Upsilon (Rose-Hulman)

Brett Huizinga, Commander

It was clear to our chapter that both COVID-19 and our institution's new regulations were going to change how we would operate. The chapter made great strides early on to produce a cleaning policy based on area utilization, a move-in schedule to promote social distancing, and making our chapter meetings virtual.

Considerations were also given to the future of chapter operations. The election process was moved to an earlier date so officers would have the opportunity to transition some of their roles in person. Since information can be lost when we lose those face-to-face interactions, we believe this will help the transition process.

Additionally, with our institution moving to an entirely virtual environment from mid-November to late January, it was paramount for our current officers to start developing clear and concise online documentation and transition materials to allow for our new officers to be successful right from the start.

Lastly, we also expanded our online file sharing system as an added academic resource, since members may find themselves with less personal interactions where they can ask for academic help.

Zeta Upsilon (Arizona State)

Thompson Vipond, Commander

Going into this virtual semester, we knew that the year was going to be very different and very challenging. We also knew we had to make the best of our situation. I told the brothers at our first “virtual” chapter meeting that if we were going to maintain excellence, we were all going to need to BUY IN. This meant getting creative in all aspects of our committees to not only make the most of our situation but still meet the expectations for excellence in the Pursuit of Excellence Program. The bright side of this situation was the pandemic gave us a chance to try new things that we otherwise would not have tried before. Giving our members something to strive for is what has kept our chapter so hungry. The pandemic was just another one of those hurdles that we were eager to tackle head on.

We have found the most success in being adaptable. Obviously, nothing is set in stone about this virus so our ability to adapt to the changes has been key. We have also found much success in being transparent with the University. As our chapter house resides on ASU property, we have been receptive and communicative with the administration on reaching agreements that satisfy what the University wants and what our members want. Finding a middle ground between both parties has helped us keep a positive and healthy relationship with the University.

Adjusting most chapter operations and events to an online format has been one of the toughest parts for us. Nothing feels exactly the same as it used to be, but our members have understood that this virus is only temporary and if we do our part to reduce exposure now, then the possibility for a better spring semester is a lot more likely. We have also found ways to abide by state regulations and still perform our rituals and ceremonies by finding venues that can host our events in a socially distanced format.

Having the willingness to accept change and adapt as needed, while also maintaining high hopes for the future, has been critical to our success as a chapter. Chapter morale is more important than ever, so finding ways to maintain that will dictate the future of where your chapter is headed. Utilizing resources like alumni advisors, Leadership Consultants, and IFC representatives has been very helpful to our chapter as well. We are all in the same boat, so you may as well lend the helping hand every chance you can get.

Let these challenges show the true colors of your chapter and prove how the principles of Love, Truth, and Honor are embedded in our culture.

Epsilon Epsilon (Oklahoma State)

Evan Jordan, Commander

It is no secret that this semester has had unique challenges. At Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, the Executive Council and the Alumni Chapter worked tirelessly to create a plan to return to campus this past fall. The chapter has done a phenomenal job of overcoming adversity and adhering to new guidelines in the chapter house. Epsilon Epsilon’s focus this semester is to keep people safe and foster the brotherhood that we have enjoyed for many years. Our plan of action regarding COVID-19 is sound, but it only works when we all do our part to protect our brothers and the community.

I also commend my chapter brothers for staying positive and finding creative ways to engage one another safely. The “new normal” is affecting everyone differently, but the positive attitude from the chapter about the new rules has made this transition very smooth. Learning how to make the best of this situation is what has been such a great motivator for success at Epsilon Epsilon.

Theta Theta (Eastern Kentucky)

Riley Alexander, Commander

Our chapter knew that we were in a difficult spot with our low membership. When COVID-19 came about, a lot of people had the luxury of being able to just wait it out, but we didn’t share that mentality. We got to work thinking of ideas and ways to work around COVID and utilize what is still out there for us. The biggest tool we used to help with our membership woes was social media. Something as simple as an Instagram direct message made a huge impact for us.

When everyone in the chapter had a few men they had made a connection with, we knew we were in business. This gave us the perfect opportunity to show these men why Sigma Nu was the right place for them. I had a lot of guys who would tell me, “I’m rushing you guys no matter what.” As great as that was to hear, that isn’t what we wanted. These were guys we saw as close friends already, so we wanted to make sure they found THEIR home. We would tell them to go to other chapters, compare that chapter to us, and then  see why Sigma Nu was right for them.

At the end of the first week of formal recruitment we had the largest candidate class on campus, and if everything goes to plan, we will see a 130% increase in manpower. All with nine brothers and the smallest chapter on campus. The brothers in our chapter wanted to succeed and so they did. COVID was the rock that put us against the hard place but looking back on it, it was a blessing in disguise.

Eta Beta (East Carolina)

Matthew Davis, LEAD Chairman

It has not been easy trying to overcome the challenges we have been presented due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but we all agree it is crucial that we continue moving forward and adapt to our current situation. To progress through this unfortunate situation, the executive board brainstormed new ways to keep our chapter up-to-date and focused.

Conducting a one-day virtual LEAD retreat was one idea that came up that quickly got traction within the chapter. We were able to organize the retreat through Zoom and continuously reached out to potential guest speakers that could assist us. It did not take long, just a great deal of effort and organization, and we were able to put together the retreat we had hoped for – a full day spent with brothers learning, growing, and becoming better men.

Proactive communication has been our biggest tool in adapting to our new challenges and I am proud to be a part of a group of men that are dedicated to keeping our chapter running smoothly even with new challenges.

© 2015-2020 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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