Written by Jerry Conrey (Cal State-Fullerton, ’84)
Was this the first column I had envisioned sharing with you as your new Supreme Prior? Hardly! For that matter, is this the Octagonian that you are used to receiving? This is not the fall term that our chapters were expecting either. We are together undergoing unprecedented, uncertain, and unusual times. While we ALL may be over COVID-19, the pandemic isn’t over us quite yet.
The Octagon knew hard decisions needed to be made, in preparation of various membership scenarios for this academic year. We brought our volunteers and staff together to evaluate data, and to project financial constraints, and made adjustments. As a result, we paused the printing of the Octagonian this year. The Fraternity has strategically focused its limited resources, to help chapters grow and operate in a virtual format. We had to rethink how we do fraternity.
Change can be frustrating, stressful, and slow. Seeing the dedication and transformation is reinvigorating, soul-stirring and makes me prideful. We were forced to re-think ritual; with the help of staff, we evolved our initiation ceremony into a virtual experience. Just as prescribed in the Black Book though, our newest initiates began their lifelong journey in Sigma Alpha Mu having been initiated by the Octagon via video conferences. I have had the honor of initiating nearly 300 undergraduate fratres through these ceremonies this fall, also unprecedented.
As you read and experience this digital issue of the Octagonian, there is no limit to the ingenuity and creativity of our members in perpetuating Sigma Alpha Mu. I hope you enjoy seeing and hearing directly from our undergraduate fratres in this issue’s “Around the Chapters” feature. We should all be proud of the undergraduates and advisors, who have absolutely gone above and beyond this year in delivering a fraternity experience despite the limitations forced upon them.
The fraternity continues to play the role of a constant. We accomplish this through our values, our relationships, and our perseverance. We are fortunate to have passionate members, like yourself, in our ranks. If you have connected with a frater from your chapter, volunteered, donated, bought a Sammy mask, or are simply reading this now – thank you. If you’re ready to do more, please let me know.
In closing, I wish you good health and an even better year ahead.
Fast and firm,
Jerry L. Conrey