Written by David Sergi, Past Supreme Prior
As we all know, we live in challenging times. Times have changed since most alumni and parents were in school. What was acceptable 20 years ago is simply no longer acceptable. There is no question that this has been a challenging semester for fraternities. If you have been following the headlines this fall, you would note three hazing-related deaths from other fraternities at LSU, Florida State, and Texas State. These campuses and others, including Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio State have instituted campus-wide suspensions of Greek Life in the wake of fraternity/sorority conduct concerns. Many attribute the abuse of drugs and alcohol as the primary reason for the problems faced by the Greek Life, however, we need to reflect and realize, that drug and alcohol abuse is a symptom of a broader social problem that all of our partners in higher education and fellow stakeholders must address. The NIH’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol estimates that 1,825 college-age students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. We have to do our part and we must be a driving force to ensure that universities do their part by recognizing that they cannot scapegoat Greek Life for the broader problems that the community faces. It is impossible to reconcile abhorrent incidents of hazing, alcohol abuse, and sexual harassment/abuse with our values. We have an obligation to be brothers and leaders. As a Fraternity, we must bring our eight, core values to the forefront of our actions: simplicity holiness, purity, justice, sincerity, fraternalism, idealism and truth.
As Supreme Prior, I’ve had outstanding discussions with our undergraduate leaders about these altars following our Model Ritual at Convention. The vast majority of our members strive to uphold these high standards – as evidenced by the updates in this issue’s “Around the Chapters.”
Our values are a call to action and reflection. The Octagon has acted to make our values more present in our publications, education, and culture. We have also used them as a guidepost as we address the current state of fraternity life. We are doing more than pay lip service to our values, we are working hard to implement them in our daily lives. As a result, the Octagon has launched a new Health and Safety Task Force. This group is tasked with exploring policies, research, resources, and best practices in order to ensure our fraternity experience is safe, rewarding, and worthy of our Creed. We are also developing an international parents forum so that we can engage our parents in conjunction with the new member education of their sons. Parents and alumni can play a pivotal role in reinforcing our values while encouraging students to address risk management concerns and bystander behavior for the wellbeing of their peers. There are opportunities for you to contribute to these efforts. Now, more than ever, Sigma Alpha Mu needs you to be a bridge builder for the next generation.