Thursday, March 06, 2014

Message from the Grand President

Message from the Grand President
The last two weeks have reaffirmed how much our alumni and friends believe in this Fraternity’s values.

When our University of Mississippi chapter found their way onto recent headlines, our alumni stood up and shared what SigEp means to them. The support of our base and proud history will always speak louder than the actions of those who carelessly tarnish our reputation.

Now that all the facts are known, I am writing to make sure you know what happened, what we’re doing about it, and how you can help.

What happened?
After learning that three freshmen members of their chapter were responsible for desecrating the James Meredith statue on the Ole Miss campus, our University of Mississippi chapter quickly voted to expel all three men, turning over their identities to university administrators and investigating authorities.

What we’re doing about it.
This is a defining moment for SigEp. We began challenging negative Greek stereotypes in 1901 and continued to lead the way when we first invited members of all races, creeds and religions to join in 1959. This incident serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done to make our campuses and Greek systems more inclusive. Once more, SigEp has the opportunity to lead the way at The University of Mississippi and on campuses across the country.

As we continue to respond to the incident with our Mississippi Alpha alumni and chapter leaders, we have communicated actively with media to correct the narrative about what happened and how SigEp intends to lead moving forward.

  • We were the first to release a statement about the incident and the chapter’s swift action.
  • Mississippi Alpha’s chapter president spoke with a local paper about the opportunity SigEp has to lead the Ole Miss campus.
  • While in Oxford, CEO Brian Warren sat down with a local CBS affiliate for an on-camera interview to help correct the narrative and defend SigEp’s values.

Before we move forward at Ole Miss, we must also look inward to understand how three students responsible for these actions could gain entry into our Fraternity. Mississippi Alpha’s alumni-volunteers and Fraternity staff are asking this question and others as they conduct a review of the chapter’s operations and membership.

CEO Brian Warren, Fraternity Operations Director Seth Irby, and Past Grand President Steve Shanklin were all in Mississippi last week to begin this process. They met with the university’s administration, our AVC and the chapter.

The chapter’s officers and volunteers have demonstrated a commitment to improving all aspects of the chapter experience, including the process by which the chapter evaluates and recruits new members.

Until we can assure you that the chapter’s membership will represent the best of SigEp, we won’t resume operations at The University of Mississippi.

How you can help.
SigEp continues to lead as the premier collegiate Fraternity, but it is moments like this that remind us we’re not perfect, and we have room to improve. We need more of our alumni and friends mentoring chapter members and leaders, whether it is with your home chapter or the one nearest you.

We certainly can’t control the actions of each and every member, but we can help guide our chapters as they create environments where, as U.G. Dubach, Oregon 1913, said, “it is easy to do right and hard to do wrong.”

I encourage all alumni to consider volunteering with a local chapter or to become a mentor with your own chapter today. I am sure you will find it, like I have, a rewarding experience.

For more information, please contact the district governor responsible for your area of the country.


Phillip A. Cox
Grand President
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