Opinion

SMU’s Lambda Chi Alpha chapter releases statement on recent suspension by nationals

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The Lambda Chi Alpha Gamma Sigma chapter has had a long and successful relationship with SMU since 1921. The Lambda Chi National Fraternity decided to suspend our charter, effective March 14. This decision was made by the National Fraternity and not by SMU. Their basis was operational and due to isolated new member incidents.

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I believe I can speak for the whole chapter when I say that we are angry, upset and most of all disappointed in National’s decision. Since we met with The Daily Campus last November, monumental changes, with the full support of our membership, have been made to fulfill our New Vision. We have held each other accountable, both with expulsions and changes in our operations. Most significantly, there are no illegal substances in our house, on our property, nor at our fraternity social events. This, alone, is a significant achievement for a fraternity at SMU. Our New vision has worked to further what our organization has always emphasized: academic achievement, campus involvement and the building of lifetime friendships through our brotherhood. These goals were stressed even more this year and are noticed in our campus GPA rankings and our success in Rush.

An important aspect of the New Vision is related to our Associate Member education program. Gamma Sigma has traditionally been committed to a genuine Associate Member Experience and not the typical fraternity pledgeship program and activities. Here at SMU we were in the process of creating and implementing a completely new Associate Member program stressing the integration of Actives and Associate Members in corporate-like team building challenges during our eight week new member education. The fully developed program was set for a fall of 2016 roll out. However, in the short time frame we had after presenting our New Vision last November, we had already enacted positive, significant, and radical changes. Our focus is on a chapter that is whole-heartedly committed to positive growth and affirmative spiritual, emotional, mental and physical development of the men of Generation Z.

During 2016 IFC Rush we recruited to the ideals of our New Vision. The acceptance by the first year students was overwhelming. Forty-four fully vetted men (the largest 2016 SMU IFC class) accepted our invitation to Associate Membership. Their GPA averaged a 3.46 with four new members holding 4.0’s. In our follow up interviews with the new Associate Members, they affirmed what we already thought: that they came here because they wanted a non-typical fraternity experience. And that was what they got.

While the new Associate Member program primarily followed a productive path that encouraged growth among the Associate Members and friendship between classes, we fell short in a couple of isolated instances that National viewed as a breach of our agreement with them following our transition from an Alumni Control Board to an Alumni Advisory Board. I am not going to discuss rumors and gossip about the specifics. However, I can assure you that these mishaps were not extreme and did NOT warrant the punishment we were given. Lambda Chi at SMU has been stereotyped as the non-pledgeship fraternity, and we were proud of our new program. Our goal was a program for the betterment of the lives of our Associate Members now and in the future, as well as to provide a leading example for a new day at SMU in Greek Life. We were on the last leg of our changes and wish that the National Fraternity had allowed us to complete the course before evaluating our success or failure. Our chapter could have been the posterchild for what a non-hazing, drug-free and values-based fraternity should look like, both for Lambda Chi Alpha and SMU. That is what has disappointed us all more than anything; the fact that we were not able to finish what we set out to accomplish.

Our chapter has an Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) composed of 14 men who are actively involved in our chapter. They attend fraternity meetings, have lunches with all of our Associate Members as well as Actives and support us in many of our life endeavors, both fraternity and otherwise. For many of them, it has been like a full time job. The AAB and I met with Lambda Chi Alpha Head of Chapter Services, Nick Zuniga, on Sunday night to discuss the Grand High Zeta’s decision to suspend the charter of Gamma Sigma at SMU. Our alumni were quite vocal in support of the Lambda Chi chapter and its members at SMU. The AAB members know all of our men on a personal basis and have been a part of creating the New Vision for the chapter. We have been fortunate to have these professional men working with us to develop a model that SMU and the Lambda Chi National Fraternity could point to as an example how 21st century fraternities should opperate.

When Nick Zuniga met with our fraternity body Monday, we told him that if the National Fraternity pulls the plug here at SMU at this point, they are not allowing us to complete the full implementation of the complete Re-Visioning of our chapter’s modus operandi. Our conscious and intentional “turn around” was working. One does not change and establish a new culture of a corporation in six months. One can imagine how much this hurts when we were so close to being something so great, yet we were taken out of the race because we had slight missteps on the final stretch. Our brothers and the Alumni lobbied National to revisit their decision, but Mr. Zuniga said that was impossible. The only route is an appeal to the General Assembly and there has only been one successful appeal in recent memory. Our decision to appeal or not has not been made.

It should be noted that we were entirely unable to defend ourselves when it came to charges issued to us by the National Fraternity. The first news many of us heard upon returning from spring break was that our charter was being pulled. The National Fraternity neglected to notify any of the officers, including myself, and had all but announced their decision in a conference call with three of our alumni. We were all surprised to hear the news given that our Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) from Lambda Chi Nationals had visited the previous week and was beyond impressed with the progress we had made, even though he recognized we still had some small issues to overcome.

Regardless, the matter of the existence of the current Lambda Chi Chapter is decided. Unfortunately for all of us, the matter is closed. There is nothing to be gained by addressing reasons, rumors or assumptions or any perceived or real misdeed or the context of. Everyone who works with fraternities and sororities across the nation is struggling to bring their operations out of the ’50s and ’60s and into the culture of the New Generation. According to National’s interpretation of our Constitution for operations, we were in violation and we willingly acknowledge our error to headquarters. However, we strongly disagree with the severity of their decision as did our Alumni Board. Further, we believe we were unfairly labeled by National and that they missed an opportune moment to proactively work with us on a new model. We, in conjunction with our alumni, have developed our new program. When we approached the National fraternity with the idea of our New Vision, we asked for help, for ideas, for examples of success from other chapters, and for resources tailored to help in our change. What did we receive? Nothing beyond our usual semester ELC visit used to observe our operations and make sure our officers were following procedure (which, as I said before, had a very positive response!) National never provided us with any dedicated resources or personnel to help facilitate the changes we were trying to make. Does Lambda Chi Alpha want a fraternity to succeed under the model we were implementing? It seems not, given the treatment we have received.

We are particularly sad and concerned for our Associate Members who attended and voted at all of our chapter meetings, including our open rush candidates. As Associate Members they are encouraged to speak and have a voice in all chapter affairs, and they did. We are invested in the Associate Members’ fulfillment, growth and involvement during their years at SMU. If they choose to become involved in another Greek organization next fall, we encourage you to welcome them on an equal and level playing field. They are quality men.

All in all, we thank SMU for the experience and longevity we enjoyed as a fraternity here on the Hilltop. While we do not believe we were given the opportunity we deserved, we hope still to implement the changes we believe can so beneficial to the community we are a part of, whether simply as individuals, or in some capacity as a future organization. We maintain faith that the men of our chapter will live for good and right purposes, and impact the campus, as we all wish to, in a positive and empowering way. Although Lambda Chi Alpha may no longer exist here at SMU, its members do, and we are always looking for ways to contribute to the those around us in the SMU community.

I pray that you would accept us with open arms so that we may further contribute to the growth and success of the university we all know and love.

Victor Beck

Former President, Lambda Chi Alpha – Gamma Sigma

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