In the biblical story of Noah, the eponymous character is charged with rebuilding the world after God destroys it by causing rains that last for 40 days and nights, flooding the entire earth. On Oct. 15, Sigma Chi International Fraternity Headquarters was faced with a similar task after employees arrived to find that the north wing of the building’s second floor had flooded for the better part of 12 hours.
It also bears mentioning that, rather than a vengeful god, the culprit behind this predicament was much more innocuous: a burst water pipe on the building’s top floor.
Although a solution to the problem didn’t call for an ark that could ferry two of every animal on earth, the challenge of repairing the building seemed biblical nonetheless. Because the pipe burst on the second floor and flowed unimpeded overnight, the carpet became saturated with water and began to leak through to the first floor and basement, destroying the ceiling, carpet, conference table, computer equipment and more below. Then-Operations Manager Mike Church, ILLINOIS 2005, who is now Headquarters’ executive director, says that the most challenging part of the situation was the utter unexpectedness of it all.
“When you get to work in the morning, the last thing you expect to see is hundreds of gallons of water that have soaked into the carpet and the walls,” Church said. “We had to think quickly on our feet and arrange new workspaces for everyone who was affected, and while it’s been a challenging experience for us, there’s no question in my mind that Headquarters came out stronger for having gone through this.”
The renovations to the Graham Boardroom, which hosts Headquarters’ weekly staff meetings as well as periodic gatherings of the Fraternity’s various committees, are noticeable improvements over what was previously an aging infrastructure. Instead of rolling chalkboards, the room now boasts a state-of-the-art projector; rather than controlling lights with a single dimmer, the room’s lighting and electronics are now managed with an iPad that can adjust several sets of lights independently of one another. Throw in new carpet and a table that comfortably seats 18 people, and Headquarters is starting to look like it embodies the spirit of youth that Sigma Chi has long espoused.
As if that weren’t enough, Headquarters also recently finished installing new carpet and cubicle furniture on its first and second floors, as well as new ceiling tiles for the area that suffered water damage in October.
“As Sigs, we constantly try to improve ourselves,” Church says. “Now our Headquarters has an attitude to match.”