Health and Safety Policy Changes

 

Sigma Chi International Fraternity Announces Policy Changes Aimed at Enhanced Health and Safety Measures in its Chapters

 

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Background: Sigma Chi International Fraternity was founded in 1855 upon the high-minded principles of Friendship, Justice and Learning. The founding ideologies shaped its principles which, in turn, have shaped its purpose to this day. The mission of Sigma Chi is to develop values-based leaders committed to the betterment of character, campus and community. It is this mission that the Fraternity hopes will frame the actions and conduct of its members. Sigma Chis are proud to be a continual leader in using proactive education to positively influence the lives of members through world-class programming such as the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop (LTW), Huntsman Horizons Leadership Summit, the Preparation for Brotherhood pledge program, Crossroads drug and alcohol education program, and others. The organization is blessed to count thousands of dedicated alumni amongst its ranks of caring donors and volunteers who generously contribute to making it possible for these programs to be built and deployed, and remains grateful to those who are part of this mission. The Fraternity has thrived for 162 years because it has always been a mission-driven fraternity that benefits the lives of its members.

In 1977, Sigma Chi released its Statement of Position Concerning Pledge Training and the Ritual – its first attempt at identifying behaviors inconsistent with the values and principles of the organization and outlawing those behaviors from the Fraternity experience. Over the last four decades, it has employed several policy changes, tactics and strategies aimed at developing a more enlightened and educated membership with the ultimate goal that each member fully embraces the idea of living a values-centric lifestyle while contributing to the promulgation of a safe and meaningful fraternal experience. Additional policy changes surrounding alcohol and drug consumption, risk management requirements, overall conduct, and human decency have been adopted – all aimed at contributing to the creation of a safer, more productive fraternal experience rooted in Sigma Chi's core values.

The calendar year 2017 was a trying time for fraternal organizations. Among the voluminous media coverage surrounding fraternities, the most tragic and concerning information were the cases of four student deaths, where alcohol and hazing were contributing or causal factors. Thankfully none of these deaths involved members of Sigma Chi, but we remain equally concerned about the possibility that any of them could have happened within our Fraternity.

Indeed, Sigma Chi experienced its own share of risk management policy violations from its chapters; chief among these being the four chapters closed during calendar year 2017 alone, all of which involved unacceptable behavior related to alcohol consumption and unacceptable risk to the health, safety and welfare of fraternity members. Dangerous behaviors related to alcohol abuse among the membership is the top concern for Sigma Chi International Fraternity. Coupled with existing research centered on alcohol abuse among college students, and particularly among fraternity men, Sigma Chi recognizes the sense of urgency that must be employed to create meaningful and lasting change to what has become an unacceptable culture where alcohol abuse is becoming more the norm than the exception on college campuses.

In short, the organization desires to be a leader in creating the kind of necessary culture change that will begin to curb the dangerous behaviors surrounding alcohol abuse and hazing on college campuses and in student-centric organizations. On Dec. 9, 2017, 70th Grand Consul Tommy Geddings, SOUTH CAROLINA 1982, convened an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee (EC) and other leaders of the Fraternity at the International Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, for the purpose of discussing hazing and alcohol abuse in the organization. After a full day of deliberation, the EC developed a plan to reinforce policies and to create and implement enhanced policy changes aimed at improving the Sigma Chi experience for all of its members.

Actions:

1)      Reinforcement of prohibition of the presence of alcohol in connection with recruitment and pledging events.

2)      Effective Feb. 1, 2018, prohibition on hard alcohol in chapter facilities.

a.       Exception: From Feb. 1, 2018 through Aug.1, 2018, chapters may organize social events in chapter facilities where hard alcohol may be served only by a third-party vendor.

3)      Effective Aug. 1, 2018, all chapters must start and finish the pledge education program within a period of five weeks.

4)      Effective Aug. 1, 2018, no social events with alcohol may occur while recruitment or pledging operations are active.

5)      Effective Aug. 1, 2018, maximum size of social events will be capped at three guests per member.

 

General FAQs

1) How will these policies be enforced?

Sigma Chi has a longstanding philosophy in which we encourage and expect our members to hold each other accountable to the high standards and expectations of the fraternity. In that way, we expect undergraduate members to self-govern and hold each other accountable to the elevated expectations surrounding the subjects of health and safety first. Once notified of a potential violation of the policy, the fraternity will then initiate an investigation into the situation.

2) What will be the punishment for a violation of the policy?

There is no set or standardized punishment for violation of this new policy. Each violation will be reviewed independently and appropriate action will be taken based on the specific facts of the situation and the history of the chapter.

The ultimate goal is for every chapter and every Sigma Chi to prosper and to protect the health and safety of our members and guests. A violation of this policy can result in things ranging from a promise not to do it again, education about why the conduct was inappropriate or suspension or revocation of the charter. Chapters with a longstanding cultural problem will likely be treated differently than one that has a single lapse in judgment.

3) Will there be any program explaining these changes at the Balfour LTW this summer?

Absolutely yes. All divisions will have some review of it. Risk Management and Consuls will have special focus on the alcohol policies. Magisters will have extensive focus on the new P4B (Preparation for Brotherhood). All other divisions will have exposure to the policies and a chance to explore questions. It is extremely important that every chapter send their delegates to Balfour LTW this summer and especially that they send their Magister. 

4) Are other fraternities or the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) implementing similar changes?

The short answer is yes. Sigma Chi has taken a leadership position on this issue, and most other fraternities, as well as the NIC, are currently considering adjustments to their own policies. Specifically, the NIC is piloting the idea of having all fraternities prohibit hard alcohol (alcohol that is more than 30% ABV) in chapter facilities along with other similar policies to the others we announced.

5) How do the alcohol policies affect alumni events?

In most instances, alumni events are unaffected by these policies. Alumni organized events are allowed to have alcohol as they see fit so long as they are not held at the chapter house. If they are held at the chapter house, there should be no hard alcohol.  

6) What about marijuana? Since it is legal in some states and about to be legal in Canada, does that change things?

There is no change in Sigma Chi’s policy on marijuana or any other drug. That issue will be examined and a policy developed in the future based upon factors such as legalization.  Since most House Corporations prohibit smoking (of any substance) it would remain forbidden in such houses even in states or places where it is legal. The current policies are not intended to address the issues of legal or illegal substances other than alcohol.

7) How do these new policies affect chapters in Canada where the drinking age is 19?

There is no difference between how chapters in the United States and Canada will be treated. These are policy changes that affect all Sigma Chi chapters and should be followed regardless of location.

 

Action No. 1 - Reinforcement of prohibition of the presence of alcohol in connection with recruitment and pledging events.

1)      Sigma Chi’s Policy on Alcohol and Drugs states, in part:

a.       “3.  Where the jurisdictional or university campus laws prohibit alcohol beverages at recruitment functions, no chapter shall permit the use, possession or consumption of alcohol beverages at any recruitment function, whether held at the chapter house or elsewhere. It is prohibited to use alcohol as a promotional vehicle for recruitment events. It is the responsibility and duty of all chapters to promote the consumption of alternative beverages to that of alcohol at recruitment events.”

b.      “11.  No alcoholic beverages shall be served, provided or purchased for any member or pledge in connection with any aspect of the pledge education program.”

2)      It is antithetical to the Sigma Chi experience to promote, teach or enforce the fraternity’s ideals where the presence of alcohol could reasonably influence or alter one’s ability to interpret or understand those ideals.

3)      The Executive Committee of the Sigma Chi International Fraternity hereby reinforces these longstanding policies and desires to impart upon the membership of the fraternity the importance of full compliance with all components of the Sigma Chi Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, with particular attention to the above-mentioned clauses.

4)      Chapters are hereby warned that any violation of the Sigma Chi Policy on Alcohol and Drugs will be met with a serious response as merits the gravity of the concern.

 

Action No. 2 - Policy Change. Effective Feb. 1, 2018, prohibition on hard alcohol in chapter facilities.

 

DEFINITIONS:

1)      Chapter facility – Any and all accommodations, facilities, structures or otherwise that could be commonly or reasonably construed as a “Sigma Chi chapter house.” This includes facilities that are privately owned, leased, host institution-owned, or otherwise. Further, there is no distinction between facilities that provide residential options or those that are considered to be “lodge” facilities or meeting places.

2)      Third-party vendor – A separate company with no connection to a chapter or its members which is properly licensed and insured to serve alcohol to persons of age and operates in compliance with local, state and federal laws.

3)      Common spaces – Areas within a chapter facility that are accessible to all members and all guests. Examples of areas that would not fall into the “common spaces” category would include, but are not necessarily be limited to, private rooms of tenants of the facility, storage areas, closets, etc.

4)      Hard alcohol – Alcohol containing above 15 percent ABV

 

POLICY LANGUAGE CHANGE:

1)      Hard alcohol is prohibited in all chapter facilities.

EXCEPTION: From Feb. 1, 2018 through Aug. 1, 2018, hard alcohol may be present in a chapter facility only when it is served by a third-party vendor during chapter events that are otherwise fully compliant with the Fraternity’s policy on alcohol and drugs and the Risk Management Foundation (RMF)’s policy on alcohol and drugs. In these cases, it may only be present or consumed in common spaces.

FAQs:

1)      Why is the Fraternity so concerned about hard alcohol?

The trend in recent years regarding the rapid consumption of hard alcohol is of great concern to the Fraternity. Hard alcohol has a much more severe effect on a person due to its high alcohol concentration and, therefore, makes it much more likely for a person to become dangerously intoxicated after consuming it. This policy decision is aimed at making Sigma Chi facilities safer places for all members and guests.

2)      I am a resident of a chapter facility and am above the legal drinking age, am I allowed to have hard alcohol in my private room?

No. The ban on hard alcohol in chapter facilities applies to all areas of the chapter facility, including private rooms. Individuals above the legal drinking age may possess and consume alcohol below 15 percent ABV in their private rooms.

3)      Can chapters have events in chapter facilities where alcohol is present and/or served without using a third-party vendor?

Yes, however, the use of a third-party vendor is highly encouraged for all events in chapter facilities. Additionally, after Aug. 1, 2018, only alcohol at or below 15 percent ABV is to be available or allowed to be consumed, and all chapter events must be in complete compliance with the Fraternity’s policy on alcohol and drugs and the RMF policy on alcohol and drugs.

4)      If the chapter hires an off-duty bartender with an applicable bartending license, does that constitute a third-party vendor?

No. A third-party vendor must be a fully licensed and insured company operating in full compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws.

5)      Can the chapter organize an event at an off-site venue where hard alcohol is served?

 Yes, however, all alcohol service must be administered by a third-party which is appropriately licensed and insured for the service of alcohol.

6)      Why did the Fraternity write an exception to allow for hard alcohol to be served in chapter facilities until Aug. 1, 2018?

The Fraternity recognizes that chapters may have already contracted with third-party vendors for social events upcoming during the next academic term and wants to provide a reasonable period of notice so as not to negatively affect any chapter’s existing contracts. Any contracts already executed for events taking place after Aug. 1, 2018, that will place a chapter in violation of this policy will need to be cancelled.

7)      We do not have a “chapter house” but a few of our members live in a private house that they rent from a third-party landlord. There are no Sigma Chi letters on the facility and no other markings that make it a “chapter house.” However, students on campus still refer to it as “the Sigma Chi house.” Is hard alcohol prohibited from that facility?

Yes. Understanding there is a high likelihood that the facility is referred to as “the Sigma Chi house” because events commonly occur there or have occurred there in the past. It is Sigma Chi’s desire to ensure that the chapter is engaging in safe practices surrounding their socialization behaviors and, therefore, hard alcohol is prohibited from that facility.

8)      The facility that is commonly known on campus as “the Sigma Chi house” has other individuals living in it who are not members of the fraternity. How do we hold those individuals accountable to following our “no hard alcohol” policy?

While we cannot expect non-members to abide by our policies and standards, we do expect Sigma Chi members to adhere to the new policy. We ask that in these situations Sigma Chi members ask all non-members to remove hard alcohol from common areas and to keep it in their rooms only. Then, if the resident non-Sigma Chi members are to be involved in hosting friends, Sigma Chi members should make it clear, in advance, to their Chapter Advisor and Grand Praetor, that they are aware that a non-member resident will be hosting friends and instruct Sigma Chis to steer clear of that event.

 

Action No. 3 - Policy Change. Effective Aug. 1, 2018, all chapters must start and finish the pledge education program within a period of five weeks.

 

DEFINITIONS:

1)      Pledge education program – All chapters are required to conduct the Fraternity’s prescribed version of its Preparation for Brotherhood (P4B) pledge program. No other program, in whole or in part, including modifications or substitutions, will be allowed.

 

POLICY LANGUAGE CHANGE:

1)      Sigma Chi’s pledge education program will last no longer than five weeks.

 

FAQs:

1)      Sigma Chi’s P4B program is currently only available in six- or eight-week versions. Will a five-week version be made available?

Yes. Sigma Chi’s Education and Leadership board and Jordan Initiative committee have been charged by the EC to develop a condensed P4B program that will be available in advance of this summer’s Balfour LTW. All chapters are strongly encouraged to ensure that their current Magister attends so that he can learn about the changes that will be made.

2)      Why is Sigma Chi shortening the P4B program?

Sigma Chi desires to have a length of time to adequately prepare its future members for membership that is no longer than is absolutely necessary in order to prepare them to meaningfully interpret and inculcate the values of the Fraternity into their lives. Those values are expressed during Sigma Chi’s initiation process.

Despite Sigma Chi’s best efforts to ensure compliance among its chapters with the current version of P4B, violations of P4B and hazing incidents continue to persist amongst its chapters. Research suggests that the shorter the time period that exists where a person is undergoing some form of “probationary membership,” the less likely that person is to experience hazing behaviors.

Our host institution partners are asking the member fraternities of the North-American Interfraternity Conference to partner with them in taking a leadership role to reduce the overall negative side effects associated with lengthy pledge periods. Such side effects can include hazing and reduced academic performance, which are most assuredly antithetical to the membership experience that Sigma Chi promotes. As a leader in the fraternity industry, the organization desires to set the example that a meaningful pledge program can be conducted within a reasonable amount of time.

3)      What if our school allows a pledge program to be longer in duration than five weeks?

Sigma Chi International Fraternity understands that some of its host institutions will have less restrictive policies once this policy change takes effect later this year. However, the Fraternity will not allow chapters to conduct a pledge program that exceeds the five-week maximum under any circumstances.

4)      What if our school requires a pledge program to be shorter in duration than five weeks?

Sigma Chi International Fraternity will provide guidance on how to conduct the updated P4B program to those chapters that are required to conduct shorter pledge periods than the new five-week maximum. Please contact senior director of membership development, Jim Cogdal, BRADLEY 2003, at jim.cogdal@sigmachi.org if you belong to a chapter where this would apply.

5)      When do we count our pledge program as beginning?

Chapters that have a formalized recruitment process or period that is coordinated by either the host institution or the local interfraternity council are required to commence the pledge program no later than three days following the conclusion of the formal recruitment process or period. The pledge program will begin with the formal pledging ceremony as prescribed in P4B.

For those chapters that do not have a formalized recruitment process or engage in recruitment outside of a set period of time, the International Fraternity will work to help chapters create a customized plan that helps them stay in compliance with the policies. A task force has been appointed by Grand Consul Geddings to evaluate this matter and will be supported by members of the Headquarters staff. Sigma Chi will be in contact with chapters prior to May 1, 2018, in order to begin this process.

6)      What is the new pledge program going to look like? What is going to still be in the program and what will be eliminated? Did we abandon P4B?

The details are still being worked out. Grand Consul Geddings has tasked the Preparation for Brotherhood Committee and the Education and Leadership Board to develop a world-class preparatory and introductory experience where our future members have the opportunity to be prepared to be inspired by the lessons taught in our Ritual.

Sigma Chi believes that the pledge program should be no longer than necessary to accomplish that objective. More information will be made available as it is completed, and certainly before Balfour Leadership Training Workshop, but it is the intent to preserve as much of the current Preparation for Brotherhood (P4B) program as possible.

 

Action No. 4 - Policy Change. Effective Aug. 1, 2018, no social events with alcohol may occur while recruitment and pledging are underway. 

 

DEFINITIONS:

1)      Social events with alcohol – Any event organized, operated, supported, endorsed or reasonably believed to have been implemented in whole or in part by a chapter of Sigma Chi at which alcohol is present, served or consumed.

 

POLICY LANGUAGE CHANGE:

1)      Effective Aug. 1, 2018, chapters are prohibited from organizing, conducting or participating in chapter-wide social events with alcohol while it is concurrently engaged in efforts to recruit or pledge new members.

 

FAQs:

1)      If the chapter engages in informal recruitment activities over the summer and then conducts formal recruitment at the beginning of the semester, with a pledge program right after recruitment, are social events with alcohol really prohibited for the entire duration of this time period?

The period of time affected is the beginning of either institution or IFC-sponsored recruitment through the end of initiation. All other events are to follow Sigma Chi's Policy on Alcohol and Drugs and all provisions of the Risk Management Foundation Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, if applicable, at all times. Pursuant to those policies, recruits or potential members should not be invited to any event where alcohol is served.

2)      If an individual member or pledge is invited to a social event where alcohol is served that is not organized by a Sigma Chi chapter during this time period, is he allowed to attend?

Yes. Those members who are invited to attend social events with alcohol may attend and not subject the chapter to violations under this policy. However, if the number of members of Sigma Chi in attendance creates the appearance that the event may have been co-organized by Sigma Chi, the chapter is instructed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that they are not subjecting themselves to potential violations. Sigma Chis are again reminded that all members are required to follow all applicable laws related to consumption of alcohol at all times.

3)      Can the chapter conduct other forms of social events where alcohol is not present, served or consumed?

Yes. Nothing precludes a chapter from engaging in service events, having social events without alcohol, or attending any other form of event provided that alcohol is not present.

4)      Can the chapter co-host an event with alcohol with another organization if the other organization is the organizing entity?

No. Any event where alcohol is served, present or consumed which would give the reasonable perception that “Sigma Chi” is participating as an organization is prohibited.

5)      Can the chapter organize a tailgate event with alcohol during a home football Saturday if it has not yet finished recruitment and/or pledging?

No. This kind of event is also prohibited. Chapters can host tailgate events with alcohol once the recruitment and pledging programs are concluded provided, of course, that all other components of the event are compliant with all applicable policies.

6)      There is no alcohol allowed at social events during recruitment but we are supposed to be recruiting 365 days a year. Does that mean there is never any alcohol allowed?

No, not at all. The spirit of Sigma Chi’s Mission 365 philosophy is for individual members to get to know the character of other qualified men year-round to determine if they would be a good fit for Sigma Chi. Nothing in the enhanced health and safety policies should be interpreted in such a way as to preclude this activity by individual members. The prohibition on social events with alcohol “during recruitment” is intended to be applicable to the period of time when the chapter as a whole is participating in the period of time designated as the “formal recruitment” period on their campus (organized by either the IFC or the institution). In some places, this period of time may be one week or it may be several weeks. If further clarification is needed, contact the Headquarters.

(Note: The Sigma Chi Policy on Alcohol and Drugs prohibits the presence of alcohol at any recruitment event. If the chapter is holding a social event with alcohol where guests are present, they should not invite other men who may be eligible to join Sigma Chi.)

7)      Our school has a 6-week recruitment period. Are we required to have no alcohol at social events during that entire time?

The most common occurrence Sigma Chi chapters will face are circumstances where the recruitment period is set by the IFC or Fraternity and Sorority Life Office as a one or two week period. That is the recruitment period we are intending to address. If your school does not have a mandated period, you need to consult with Headquarters (contact Anthony.monk@sigmachi.org) and specific instructions will be provided.

If your chapter holds a recruitment event outside of that mandated time (such as a summer recruitment), there can be no alcohol at that event per the Sigma Chi and Risk Management Foundation Policies on Alcohol and Drugs. If there is any intent to use any event as a recruitment tool, there can be no alcohol. As with most aspects, common sense will be applied and if it appears to be a recruitment event, regardless of what it is called, there should be no alcohol. However, a single event outside of a mandated recruitment period does not prohibit all alcohol at other events. If you have a semester long recruitment period or a 6-week long period, adjustments can and will be made to accommodate that but they must be made BEFORE scheduling an event.

8)      Our chapter has deferred recruitment but we have informal recruitment throughout the fall semester. Does this mean we are prohibited from having social events with alcohol throughout the fall semester?

No. The period of time Sigma Chi is trying to address with this policy is the period of time when chapters are formally engaged in recruitment as a whole. Chapters with deferred recruitment should be following the principles of Mission 365; namely, that they should be meeting and interacting with other men who might be a good fit for Sigma Chi on a one-on-one basis throughout the year. The spirit of this new policy is that Sigma Chis will not use alcohol as an incentive to entice other men to join our fraternity and chapters are to follow the spirit of this policy.

 

Action No. 5 - Policy Change. Effective Aug.1, 2018, no chapter function may exceed a ratio of three guests per initiated member.

 

DEFINITIONS:

1)      Social events with alcohol – Any event organized, operated, supported, endorsed or reasonably believed to have been implemented in whole or in part by a chapter of Sigma Chi at which alcohol is present, served or consumed.

 

POLICY LANGUAGE CHANGE:

1)    Effective Aug. 1, 2018, social events with alcohol will be capped at a maximum size of a ratio of three guests per initiated member or at the applicable size of the fire code of the facility where the chapter function is taking place, whichever is lower.

 

FAQs:

1)      Does the 3:1 ratio apply to all chapter functions or just social events with alcohol?

The 3:1 ratio applies to chapter events with alcohol. It is not applicable to chapter events where no alcohol is present, served or consumed.

2)      When calculating the ratio, where do alumni count?

Only current members count in the member side of the ratio. If alumni are to be invited, they would count as part of the guest ratio. 

3)      Is the ratio limited to each member inviting three guests or is it applicable to the total number of guests?

The 3:1 ratio is applicable to the total event size. Therefore, if the chapter has 100 men, it may invite a total of 300 guests regardless of how many individuals in the chapter are actually planning to attend.