This document defines the relationship between the Sigma Chi Fraternity as an international entity and your chapter, as a local organization. This Relationship Statement will be reviewed at every Grand Chapter and your chapter will have an opportunity to ask questions or seek clarification on any of the points of this Relationship Statement should your chapter have any confusion as to the content of this document.
From this point forward the Sigma Chi Fraternity, the international organization, is referred to as The Fraternity and the undergraduate chapter, the local organization, is referred to as The Chapter(s) or Chapter(s).
This document has been composed to help both The Fraternity and its Chapters understand the relationship which exists between The Fraternity and The Chapters. The Fraternity recognizes the value of students who are motivated by high ideals and the commonly expressed interest in friendship, justice and learning. The Fraternity aims to advance the educational interests of its members; to promote leadership development; and to make, maintain and uphold a high standard of life, happiness and integrity for its members by uniting them in closer bonds of friendship and brotherly union.
The growth of the international organization came about when the first chapter established a second chapter, and the undergraduates served as the entire Fraternity organization, sharing their common beliefs through rituals and purposes, and issuing charters and permission to use a common name, Sigma Chi. In time, these students determined there should be volunteer leaders and advisors to knit the individual chapters together in a non-profit organization. Further, student members decided that there should be a permanent, staffed administrative office to promote the purposes of The Fraternity and to encourage achievement.
Presented here is an outline of the meaning, scope and limitations of each Chapter’s charter and power to initiate members into The Fraternity; the scope and limitations of The Fraternity’s services; and the other benefits and structure of The Fraternity.
A. The charter and initiation of members into The Fraternity
1. What it means
When The Chapter receives its charter from The Fraternity, it is granted the right to use the exclusive name, nicknames, logos and insignia of The Fraternity on the chapter house, and in references to each member, and The Chapter. The Fraternity grants The Chapter the right to pledge and initiate members into The Fraternity, on the condition that they meet the requisite conditions of membership and that the prescribed Ritual and other provisions of the constitution and bylaws of The Fraternity are met, which include payment of the appropriate fees for pledging and initiation and thereafter semi-annual dues.
The Chapter functions as a group. Specifically, The Chapter is an unincorporated association under the law of the state/province where it is located. The Chapter selects its own officers, assesses dues, operates a chapter house if desired, selects new pledges, initiates members, encourages fellowship, promotes education, participates as teams in intramural athletics, participates in campus and interfraternity programs, sponsors candidates for school offices, enjoys social events and sends delegates to the Grand Chapter, province conferences, Balfour Leadership Training Workshop and other seminars and functions. The Chapter operates its own organization on a day-to-day basis and is expected to comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the college or university where it is located and with all applicable laws of the various governmental bodies – local, state/province and federal.
2. What it does not mean
The right to use The Fraternity name, logo and insignia does not give The Chapter or any member the right to sell or re-license the use of the logo, the insignia, or the name to third parties, to use the name in any manner which is detrimental to The Fraternity, or to bind The Fraternity to any agreements or obligations of any nature whatsoever. The Chapter is given a specific chapter name upon chartering and should always use that chapter name (i.e. Alpha Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity) when entering into agreements or in its correspondence. The Chapter should avoid any implication that it has any authority to speak for or to obligate The Fraternity, unless The Chapter receives specific prior written approval.
Furthermore, the right to pledge and initiate members does not extend any authorization to commit any hazing of pledges as a condition of membership or similar activity with the Initiation, or to conduct any activity whatsoever in connection with the events of pledging, Initiation or otherwise, such as drinking celebrations or similar events. If those events occur, they are done without authority and against The Fraternity’s Governing Laws and could subject The Chapter to loss of its charter. However, withholding of this authority in connection with Initiation, for example, does not mean that The Chapter is prohibited from conducting an appropriate function in recognition of the event, such as a post-initiation banquet that is conducted in keeping with all applicable laws, rules and regulations of the municipality, state/province and school where The Chapter is located.
The fact that a charter has been issued and The Fraternity allows the use of its name as a Chapter does not mean that The Fraternity obligates itself to operate The Chapter or to supervise or discharge the separate rights and obligations that The Chapter has as its own entity. The Chapter and its members have the sole and exclusive responsibility to govern its own actions. The success of The Chapter is generally attributable to how well its members carry out their rights and obligations.
B. The Fraternity’s Services
1. Their scope and availability
The Fraternity offers The Chapter access to a multitude of services, programs and assistance dealing with many aspects of undergraduate group living and campus life. These services include:
- Advice and suggestions on such practical matters as the operation and management of the chapter house, suggested chapter house safety programs, and the management of The Chapter finances and kitchen operations.
- Membership education programs, chapter officer leadership seminars and other self-development programs.
- Guidelines for The Chapter’s initial organization with suggested bylaws, which contain alternatives for The Chapter’s decision and use.
- Access to educational resources, including brochures and videotapes and assistance in obtaining speakers.
- Chapter consultants who are available to talk and correspond with chapter officers about questions in the areas of chapter administration and any problems or concerns. In addition, the chapter consultants will visit The Chapter periodically, and will observe and make evaluations and suggestions during and after each visit. The chapter consultant can meet with the host institution’s staff and can offer assistance to the host institution’s staff in implementing any suggestions for The Chapter.
- Staff assistance in the initial recruitment of prospective members for a new chapter and additional assistance in The Chapter’s ongoing recruitment efforts.
The Fraternity believes in education and is committed to the proposition that self-management as an active chapter will give its members the opportunity to broaden and expand the classroom education. The Fraternity urges the chapter officers and leaders, in turn, to utilize the materials and information that they received to continue the education of the members of The Chapter. The Fraternity views the self-management requirements and techniques, which are experienced first-hand as a chapter, as an ongoing exercise that should help prepare the members for their remaining adult lives. The Fraternity advocates adherence to its ideals which, when combined with The Chapter’s and its members’ acceptance of responsibility, can enable The Chapter and its members to develop a lifelong pattern of setting and achieving goals.
2. The Fraternity’s services: what it does not mean
The assistance, which The Fraternity provides The Chapter in the form of guidelines and suggestions, should not be misinterpreted. Although every chapter functions as a component of the entire Fraternity, The Fraternity recognizes that each chapter is viewed as an unincorporated association under the law of the state/province where it is located and, as such, The Chapter is a separate legal entity and its members are individuals who are solely responsible for their own behavior and who are required to abide by the law and all applicable rules and regulations from the respective colleges and universities. The Fraternity further recognizes that it is an unincorporated association with its sole office in Evanston, Illinois. The Fraternity does not tell or instruct The Chapter how it must operate The Chapter, its members’ activities or its chapter house. The Fraternity does not seek to, nor does it exercise any, control over The Chapter or its members as they go about their day-to-day lives as students whose primary goal is to obtain an education at a particular school. The Chapter’s association with The Fraternity is secondary to the educational purpose, yet The Chapter may serve as a focal point of the everyday lives of its members. The Chapter is an organized group. Part of the benefit from the experience, which the members of The Chapter will receive, is the appreciation of the fact that they have both the right and the obligation to operate as an autonomous entity. The experience of learning to bear responsibility for one’s actions should be one of the most rewarding and beneficial events of undergraduate training. The Fraternity does not undertake to assume responsibility for actions or conduct of The Chapter or its members. The Chapter and its members are subject to and are expected to comply with laws, rules and regulations of the school, the local municipality, the state/province and the federal government.
The Fraternity does not, and cannot, oversee, monitor or control The Chapter’s activities and it does not and cannot undertake any duty to see that The Chapter abides by the law or the school’s regulations. If The Chapter or its members violate the law or the rules and regulations of the host school or The Fraternity, The Chapter runs the risk that The Fraternity will exercise its rights to terminate the charter or to terminate the individual’s membership. The Chapter and each of its members bear the exclusive responsibility to avoid violating applicable rules, laws and regulations.
C. The Fraternity’s Other Benefits and Structure
1. A description and meaning
In addition to offering The Chapter access to The Fraternity’s services, programs and assistance in dealing with the undergraduate chapter experience, The Chapter and its members have access to other benefits of The Fraternity. These include:
- Receipt of The Fraternity’s quarterly publication, The Magazine of Sigma Chi.
- Assistance in alumni association organization and operations.
- Awards and recognition of The Chapters for achievement in campus leadership, scholarship, intramural athletics and overall performance.
- Sponsoring province conferences for undergraduate student leaders and interested alumni and other advisors to The Chapters.
- Assistance in developing community service programs in public relations.
- Guidance in selection and consultation with various advisors, including alumni advisors, resident advisors and faculty advisors.
- Assistance by providing forms for the various membership and financial reports which The Chapter is required to submit to The Fraternity as a condition of maintaining The Chapter’s charter.
- Service as an historical archive for the storing of The Chapter’s documents.
- Guidance to members of The Chapter in applying for educational grants and scholarships, subject to availability.
The Fraternity is governed by The Chapters and its members. The Chapters, represented by delegates, attend The Fraternity Grand Chapter every odd year. Every even year provinces send their delegates to a Grand Council meeting. The delegates vote in their representative capacity to select international officers, enact legislation, and approve amendments to the constitution and bylaws. The services and benefits of The Fraternity are administered by the staff through The Fraternity’s Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. That Headquarters serves as a clearinghouse for the administration of The Fraternity and for the implementation of the actions taken by the conventions and the elected officers of The Fraternity which result in the various services and benefits being offered to The Chapters and the members.
2. The Fraternity’s other benefits and structure: what it does not mean
The Fraternity’s assistance to The Chapter in all of these areas stems from its commitment to assist The Chapter as an active chapter in various ways. The Fraternity obviously cannot guarantee that The Chapter will be a success or that any chapter or member will qualify for all benefits or that any particular benefit will be available at all times. The Fraternity desires that The Chapter fully understand the proper relationship between The Chapter and The Fraternity. The Fraternity stands ready to assist The Chapter in certain ways as previously outlined. However, The Chapter will have many other needs in its day-to-day experience as an organization where The Fraternity is not able to render the assistance as may be needed. For example, only The Chapter has the power to conduct its internal elections of officers, to set its budget, to perform social planning, to set The Chapter’s dues and assessments, to perform house maintenance and operations, to run the kitchen, to maintain order, or to conduct any of the other aspects of The Chapter’s day-to-day management and life. The Fraternity does not have this authority and does not exercise any of these powers. The Fraternity does not become involved in The Chapter’s legal affairs, such as the violations of school, local, state/province and federal rules or school regulations or actions by vendors to collect bills, two of many possible examples. Handling of those types of decisions and matters are part of The Chapter and its members’ maturation process and of the total undergraduate experience. The Fraternity does stand ready to provide advice and suggestions to The Chapter in response to such problems, but the decisions are The Chapter’s. The Fraternity serves an important function in assisting the parents, families, schools, churches, student organizations, and other support groups in giving The Chapter and its members an opportunity for a richer and more complete undergraduate experience because of their affiliation with The Fraternity.
The emphasis is to encourage and assist The Chapter’s members in their collective experience as a chapter. The Fraternity makes suggestions and furnishes The Chapter with ideas, which have shown to be helpful through experience in similar situations. The Fraternity desires to help The Chapter in the implementation of scholarship, leadership, social, civic and athletic programs.
D. The Fraternity’s Help to The Chapter in Difficult Times
1. What it means
A chapter might experience problem areas from time to time that could threaten its existence. Examples of these problems are low membership, poor financial or other types of management, or even instances of conduct which violate school rules or the law, or the standards of The Fraternity. The Fraternity wants to remind The Chapter that certain activities, such as hazing, alcohol or drug abuse or violation of any applicable statute, regulation or law regarding the same; sexual abuse or commission of crimes or violation of school rules and regulations or statutes and ordinances of the city, county or state/province where The Chapter is located; or violation of federal law can result in the loss of The Chapter’s charter and the loss of membership for the responsible individuals.
The Chapter is also advised that a loss of The Chapter’s charter automatically places all undergraduate members on alumni status. In some cases, representatives of The Fraternity might visit the campus to determine which of the undergraduate members on alumni status will be asked to form the nucleus of a re-established chapter at the school with the emphasis upon obtaining a cohesive group which best reflects the ideals of The Fraternity and the best interests of The Chapter for the future. This does not amount to an investigation of the past problems, but rather deals in solutions for the future. The Fraternity retains the right to advise The Chapter that its charter is in jeopardy and to suspend The Chapter’s charter or to make certain conditions or goals for The Chapter to achieve as a condition of retaining its charter, or removing the suspension or reactivation of The Chapter. The assistance The Fraternity might offer in attempting to help solve The Chapter’s problems remains available in its sole discretion. The Fraternity reserves the right to determine when The Chapter needs help or that The Chapter may need help from sources other than from The Fraternity or that The Chapter is beyond help. In short, The Fraternity retains the right, as explained in the constitution and bylaws, to suspend or revoke The Chapter’s charter. This forms the fundamental basis of the relationship between The Fraternity and The Chapters. That is, The Fraternity renders assistance in a variety of areas and reserves the right to suspend or terminate the relationship. In between, the rest is up to The Chapter.
2. What it does not mean
The Fraternity desires that The Chapter understand and appreciate that its assistance to a troubled chapter does not mean that The Fraternity will conduct its recruitment activities, or make its pledging or initiation decisions. The Fraternity will give The Chapter advice in this regard and reserves the right, but not the obligation, to assist The Chapter in the conduct of recruitment or pledging activities. However, The Fraternity wishes to emphasize that these activities remain The Chapter’s responsibility and decision. Furthermore, The Chapter should understand and appreciate that The Fraternity does not conduct the operation of The Chapter’s financial transactions or social functions, nor does it inspect or maintain the chapter house. For example, The Fraternity does not prepare leases with The Chapter’s landlord or leases to The Chapter’s undergraduate students. The Fraternity does not run The Chapter’s kitchen, pay its rent, or collect its rent, and The Fraternity does not oversee The Chapter’s compliance with the school’s rules and regulations or any applicable law. The Fraternity does not organize or pre-approve social functions. Even if The Fraternity desired to perform these actions, it does not have the authority, budget, personnel or time to attempt such a mammoth undertaking, even with a few troubled chapters. If The Chapter needs help and The Fraternity offers assistance through suggestions and guidelines, please remember that the decisions and responsibility for any of The Chapter’s success lies ultimately with The Chapter and its members.
There are numerous other examples of what The Fraternity does not do, which examples can be summed up by saying: “The Fraternity does not control The Chapter or its members or their activities; however, if The Chapter violates the constitution or bylaws or any applicable laws, rules or regulations from the school or any government authority, The Fraternity retains the right to suspend or revoke the charter, in the case of The Chapter, or to suspend or revoke membership, in the case of an individual.”
The Chapter and its members are very important to The Fraternity. This Relationship Statement should clarify how The Chapter and its members relate to The Fraternity. It is designed to help The Chapter help itself. The Fraternity stands ready to assist The Chapter in every way possible.