Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Financial Crisis and SigEp

Anyone who has a 401-K plan, a mortgage on a house that has lost value, or works for a company that needs to borrow short term money knows that these are troubled times. A loss of value like we have seen in the last two weeks will not be recovered quickly, and the loss of confidence in the working of the markets may lead to significant changes in the way financial business is done.

Bro. Gene Schurg sent these thoughts about the recent meltdown of the financial markets and how it may affect SigEp:

Anyone reading a newspaper or watching a newscast the past few weeks knows that the United States and the world is in a financial meltdown. Fannie and Freddie are under government control. Banks won't loan money to other banks. Student loans are becoming more difficult to find.

As corporations cut back the workforce in this crisis our young brothers will find it more difficult to pay for “optional” activities in college or may be pulled from school totally when their parents lose their jobs. Young men who were able to live in the fraternity house in past years will find it more economical to live at home and commute to campus.

Educational saving funds accumulated by the families of our members that were adequate for a 4 year education a year ago now are valued at significantly less today.

Faced with buying books or paying fraternity dues, books are required... fraternity is not.

In the bigger picture, our key contributors to the foundation are finding their savings cut by the loss of value in their stock holdings. Will they still give to the programs of SigEp? When manpower drops how will we keep doing the programs at the national level? AVC's previously strapped for cash in good times will find it exceedingly difficult to keep the doors of the fraternity house open.

As a fraternity we can stick our heads in the sand and pretend that "this won't affect SigEp" or "my school is above all of this financial mess." Poor leadership would do this. What should SigEp leadership do to adopt a defensive position against what may be a long recession or worse a depression?

Now more than ever SigEp has to show the value of our fraternity. Chapters that fail to show value of the SigEp experience to the member and recruits will become that “optional” expenditure for men on our campuses. Our men must be able to communicate how a man will have a better opportunity for employment and better prepared for life after college if he joins Sigma Phi Epsilon.

It could be gloom and doom... or we could survive if our leaders plan now.

I would be interested in discussing how the financial meltdown is affecting our chapters across the country.

The Trustees of the foundation and the leadership of the Fraternity include some very astute financial minds. I hope we don't have to cut back on the good programs and guidance that are provided to our undergraduate members. This would be a good time to "put your money where your heart is" and help SigEp remain a strong and respected builder of leaders.

Often on this blog we talk about those areas where we believe the Fraternity could be better, and Gene is certainly not shy about offering his opinion. But no one wants to see SigEp fall by the wayside. We all care deeply about the brotherhood. All fraternities will face challenges like those Gene refers to and we need to make sure - with our time, talents, and treasure - that OUR fraternity continues to offer the best undergraduate leadership experience.