Thursday, May 31, 2007

No Conclave Dinner Option This Year for Alumni

As far back as I can remember, I as well as many other Alumni, have had the option to purchase a ticket for the last night gala Alumni Dinner when we were unable to be around for the entire Conclave Event. As a 40 year alum of Sigma Phi Epsilon, for more than 30 years I have always made an attempt to get there at least for this dinner to celebrate the newly elected Board members, Citation Award winners, and Order of the Golden Heart winners. It was also a time that I was able to reconnect with fellow alums. I inquired about the cost of the dinner ticket this year and this is the response I received from the staff person in charge to whom I had made the request:

"I’ve been working with some other staff members to see if we could break up the registration fee into individual event tickets. However, due to some of our contractual issues with the hotel, we are not going to be able to sell tickets to single events at Conclave. I apologize! I do hope, however, that you’ll be able to make it to Conclave. With the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Ritual as well as some great programming, I am confident that you will find it worthwhile!

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions – hope to see you in Atlanta!"

I find this very interesting. There are always those who don't stick around for the last dinner, and it seems to me that a few more plates would be welcomed by the hotel. It's not that registration is so overwhelming that accommodations for a few additional seats would be available. I guess this is one conclave I won't make. I know I won't go in 2009 either because I refuse to go to any meeting, professional or social, in Orlando, particularly if it is on a Disney property where you are trapped and a $60 cab ride to civilization. So, I guess my Conclave going days are over.

As to the 100th Year Celebration of the Ritual, I hope that it is spectacular. Considering the attitude our corporate fraternity has taken that Ritual is unimportant and does not contribute significantly to our operation, I can't really expect much there either. I would buy a ticket for that, perhaps, too, but they obviously are not for sale and the hotel must be charging them by the chair for setting up a room. One asks, if our Ritual is so important, why was the standing committee on Ritual eliminated and one single person made the Great Oracle on our Ritual?

Conclave programming has nothing to offer this old fossil. I have been fully retired from "alumni volunteering" for Sig Ep now for about 5 years. After 34 years of doing so, I guess you could say I received my "Thank You" plaque for serving on a national task force in the mail (it was nicely framed) which, in essence, "pasture-ized" me.

Conclave really should be a celebration event for our undergrads. With few exceptions, our undergrads cannot afford to go unless they are chapter delegates. The registration fee is outrageous and the hotels expensive, eventhough we are going at off peak at many places. Why don't we explore the possibilities of less expensive venues and concentrate on more undergrad involvement and networking.

As for alumni, I, for one, must weigh the possibilities. From my double-secret location, full registration fee, airfare, ground transportation, hotel accomodations, and miscellaneous expenses arriving Tuesday night and departing Sunday morning, would be well over $2000 (1 person). Now look at my alternative: airfare, ground transportation, resort accomodations for 8 days/7 nights, and miscellaneous expenses to either Maui, Big Island, or Kauai - $1800. Now you tell me, for the money what is the better deal? Atlanta or Hawaii?

So dear readers and dear Brothers who I normally get to see every other year at Conclave, thanks to our new HQ policies and the types of contracts we now make with expensive hotels, this is one alum who will not be at the Alumni Awards Dinner Gala 2007. Hmm, and I think this might have been the year I would get another certificate, suitable for framing, for having attended my 15th conclave.

For those of you going to Atlanta, I will think of you while I am on the beach in Hawaii.
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