Sigma Phi Epsilon - University of Oklahoma

Winter 2018 Newsletter

Oklahoma Beta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity at the University of Oklahoma

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THE EPILOG A PUBLICATION FOR ALUMNI OF OKLAHOMA BETA t SIGMA PHI EPSILON WINTER 2018 OklahOma Beta emphasizes Balanced man prOgram I am pleased to report that our OK Beta Chapter is on solid footing as we embark on the next phase of our capital campaign to improve the living and educational environment at 701 College Avenue (524 W. Brooks for you old guys). Some of what follows may be old news, but I want to make sure we all understand where we have been and where SigEp at OU is headed. Let me be frank up front—continuing to have a SigEp chapter at OU will take more alumni support. The Alumni Board is extremely thankful for the support we have, but being the largest fraternity in the country takes some effort—some very rewarding effort. Two years ago, I wrote a letter of recommendation for our chapter for a Buchanan Cup because we excelled in areas of philanthropy, scholarship, manpower, alumni participation, intramurals, and sorority relations. Missing from that mix was a strong Balanced Man Program (BMP), an accountability and growth program for members encompassing all of their college life with emphasis on building sound minds and bodies, and creating a valued partnership between the University and SigEp. The disconnect began when OU SigEp was deemed a "Pledge Model" chapter on the National level—a mistake made during the initial BMP rollout per Brian Warren, SigEp's CEO. Despite our lack of progress toward an effective BMP, we won back-to-back Buc Cups and were proud of our accomplishments. I am happy to say that in terms of improvement, our Balanced Man Program progress is easily our number-one area. While we are on the BMP, David Newman has agreed to be our local Balanced Man Steward. The Balanced Man Steward is a liaison between the alumni, National Fraternity, and the chapter, with the goal of helping the chapter improve their membership structure. David has given tirelessly of his time and resources to assist the recruitment team with funding over the past several years. Currently, his twin sons are SigEp members in Norman. The Alumni Board is very thankful to have David's energy enlisted to improving the membership development process at OK Beta. To say I have learned a lot about Sigma Phi Epsilon from a National perspective and day-to-day on-campus perspective in the last three years would be a severe understatement. I was fortunate to join our chapter delegation at the last two Conclaves. There I learned a great deal about the proper way to structure both the AVC and the chapter and how their relationship is critical to a successful chapter. Again, despite our tremendous overall success, we had several areas that needed vast improvement, and still do. We still rank first or second in grades among all fraternities, in the top two in intramurals, and regularly bring home trophies in University Sing and Scandals. But, where we have made great improvement is in our alignment with the National Fraternity. Without Sigma Phi Epsilon in Richmond, Va., we do not exist as a SigEp fraternity at OU. As most of you know, we have embarked on a capital campaign to improve both living space and educational space in our 26-year-old structure. Phase 1 of the campaign and construction is complete, though we took on some debt to achieve a timely result. Two complete floors of the house were gutted and remodeled, adding 100 percent additional study space and room for educational meetings and seminars. We also expanded and upgraded the dining facilities and recreational areas, including doubling the workout area with added cardio machines. There were some growing pains through the project, but we are excited to move on to Phase 2 over the next few years. We still have the best location on campus, but almost every fraternity chapter house is either new or has been significantly remodeled in the last five years. Changing the methods, practices, and culture when you are the largest fraternity on one of the largest Greek campuses in the country is no small order. I advised it would be like turning an ocean liner in a pond. In late 2015, we began an earnest effort to make real changes in the membership development programs at OK Beta. In our talks with HQ personnel and chapter actives, it became clear the transition might require some drastic measures. In March 2016, the AVC, with support of the University and HQ, implemented a member review, which resulted in the removal of over 50 members from the chapter. Painful and difficult as this process was, we moved forward into the summer and fall of 2016 with a membership committed to the programming and ideals of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Our plan of action now serves as the model for correcting fraternities that need realignment at the University of Oklahoma. Risk management is another area where the chapter has made much improvement. Using the BMP model, the chapter has a properly functioning standards board, which holds members accountable for their actions. The standards board has removed at least four members in the past year for infractions, a concept that was absent prior to the member review. Members are also held to proper academic and financial accountability. Again, this was something that was not in alignment with the BMP in prior years. Social events are planned with risk management in mind and again, members are held accountable. The AVC and chapter also have their financial liability protocols perfectly aligned with the National Fraternity for the first time in the chapter's existence. Several alumni brothers worked diligently to correct errors in accounting practices that had existed for decades. I am most proud of our improvements to the new member experience at OK Beta. In the recent past, there was no Sigma rite of passage (first formal ceremony for new members) performed, as is required. Each new member class since fall 2015 has experienced this ritual, which begins their journey with the proper frame of mind and accountability. The "Initiation" ceremony is now comprised of a Phi-rite of passage and an Epsilon rite of passage, which are done on a timely basis and the LROB ("Lifetime Responsibilities of Brotherhood") has been a bigger part of the experience. More detail about the BMP is available at Granted, the new members often refer to themselves as a pledge class, but that is part of the OU culture. Being a "pledge class" has never been the problem. Having members treat new members as "pledges" has been the problem and this practice is being eliminated at Oklahoma Beta with adoption of the Balanced Man Program. MAKE THE DATE - ALL CLASS REUNION - ACR-V (Continued on page 3) February 23-24, 2018 Friday Night: Bowling and pizza Hey Day in North Norman 7 p.m. Saturday Night: Petroleum Club OKC with The Wise Guys 6 p.m. Tickets: • Info:,

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