You may or may not have heard of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Tufts disaffiliating from their national organization. If not, here’s the story. Why is this important?
A little over a year ago I wrote post that referred to the old tale of the pied piper. In that post, the suggestion was made that we who work in Fraternity & Sorority Life should be mindful of who pays our bills, for there will come a point where members may consider their dues (both IFC and national dues) to be better used elsewhere.
I don’t think that what happened at Tufts will result in a mass exodus from Sig Ep or any fraternity (going local is increasingly harder to do, particularly when you need insurance for your local chapter), but I do think it may signal to more chapters that they have a voice in the direction of their campus community and national headquarters.
My personal opinion is that these men, or men in similar situations, may be missing an opportunity. As Sig Eps, they could use their affiliation to call out publicly what they believe is lacking in their network of chapters. They could stand on the floor of a national meeting and call out the behavior or actions of other groups.
As affiliates of a national fraternity, they could graduate as alumni, volunteer for or give to their fraternity, and continue to be the change they wish to see.
As a local chapter, they’ll have autonomy, but most schools would force them underground in that case or require the chapter find a way to be insured; which is a ridiculous cost burden for a local group. It’s unlikely that this chapter would survive long-term unless Tufts were to put their weight behind serving as a “national” of sorts.
In any case, what has just happened at Tufts should serve as a warning, but not a precedent. The costs of going local are too high to be realistic for most chapters at most schools, but it’s clear that students on all sides of all isles are going to demand more (or less) of the communities they find themselves in.
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