Sigma Pi Fraternity, International is 117 years old today. Our brotherhood has survived two World Wars, countless other conflicts, a myriad of natural catastrophes, depressions, terrorist attacks, near-bankruptcy, and an infinite number of events that have devastated our members. There are many countries that have not existed as long as Sigma Pi has been an organization. Through it’s 117 years, members have helped each other through the turmoil. But, if we are all sons of this brotherhood, how can we be sure we — now — are not the lesser sons of greater sires?
Our Founders’ Day is a time for reflection and celebration. When the seeds of what would become the Fraternity took root, it did so at a time when men our age were more intentional. I feel confident William Kennedy or George Patterson would not take kindly to that guy in your chapter who shows up late to meeting and whose only contribution is nominating his drinking buddy for “dick of the week.” Our Alpha Chapter was founded at a military academy, and our founders were serious men.
What has enabled our Fraternity to survive for this long? Is it because our members are members for a lifetime and help ensure that survival? Is it because our undergraduates’ commitment and passion for the values of Sigma Pi help them stand out among their peers, and enable them to attract men of character? Is it because we strive to be the best at whatever we set our minds to? I propose that it is none of these things at all, sadly.
I have been to many chapters of Sigma Pi -I’ve started three of them. Most of what I have observed would indicate that we do not think about the questions nearly enough.
Less than ten percent of our alumni actively engage with our undergraduate chapters. We are failing at encouraging our undergraduates to become invested in the lifelong lessons of Sigma Pi, and we need a lot of work at inspiring them to want to give their time to help change the lives of other men after they graduate.
Can you picture ten men in your chapter who you wish you could be more like? Men you respect. Men who you could call virtuous? Men you think are good examples of what it means to be a man? If you can, then it is your duty to help them share whatever it is that makes them special. If you cannot, then you need to ask yourself why.
What I have observed has shown me that the reason our Fraternity has survived up to this moment. It is because of the efforts of a small number of certain types of men. Men like the late H.G.S. Jim Hills (Alpha-Chi, Maryland '54)have single-handedly ensured the survival of our brotherhood at times when it was on the brink of dissolution. It is men like him, who have applied the values of our fraternity to their every day lives, which have allowed the Fraternity to continue to help change the lives of the nearly 100,000 men who have passed through our ritual and have taken our oaths.
This Founder’s Day, I propose a gut-check. We are the men who are at the helm of our chapters and of this organization. Are we running it in a way that will leave it better than we found it for our sons? More importantly, I am asking you if you are living up to your own expectations. Are you making yourself proud? Are you doing something every day to make yourself better? Do you inspire respect? Hope? Love? Or are you wasting yourself?
Every day, we are fighting against the tide of stagnation; and don’t be fooled, we are all in a desperate struggle. The possibility of what could happen if every man reading this article worked to change a piece of the world is incredible. The possibility of what will happen if we cower, and don’t try to change, urges me to want to.
It is my hope, that on Sigma Pi’s 117th anniversary, you decide that there are wrongs that you are capable of fighting. It is my hope that you will diverge from the easy road and take the unhewn path. Start with the men closest to you, and the spark of your passion and dedication will spread. All heroes are famous for their labors, not for their times of repose. A year from now, at our 118th Founders’ Day, what will you have done worth celebrating?
Per aspera ad astrum,
Ryan Khuri (Iota-Omicron, Louisville ’12)