In this day and age, one needs to be acutely aware of his surroundings and the pitfalls and possibilities that await him. A quick turn of events can catapult him either into stardom or into the very depths of despair. Being at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing can bring success and prosperity. Doing the wrong thing or being in the wrong place can end one’s college career and/or his career opportunities for life. Sigma Nu witnesses the kinds of pitfalls college students face daily, and sadly most never believe that it could ever happen to them. But, the hard truth is that, in our increasingly litigious society, college students should be thoroughly warned about the perils they face today.
If there is one critical occurrence that can bring about the demise of the college fraternity, and a lawsuit against individual members and the chapter, it is abuse — of both substance and human beings. Substance abuse centers primarily around alcohol but also includes such substances as marijuana, cocaine, and a host of others. Human abuse on the college campus is targeted mostly against women but does not exclude verbal harassment and physical altercations among men.
The Achilles Heel
Alcohol leads the pack as the substance most frequently abused by the vast majority of college students. Literally, billions of dollars of collegiate funds (or the funds their parents provide them) are spent on alcoholic beverages each year! Therefore, it is the most potentially destructive to individuals, student organizations, and property. Daily, students on campuses across the continent over imbibe in alcohol, and every year some lose their lives from acute alcohol poisoning. We are fully aware this can happen to us. It can, and will, if we consume more alcohol than our bodies can tolerate.
No Man Is Above The Law
The law is specific. Underage drinking is prohibited. The underage who consume alcohol are breaking the law, and there is no place in Sigma Nu for lawbreakers. Any member in this fraternity that fails to uphold the law is subject to losing its charter, having its officers removed from office and brought to trial for possible suspension or expulsion, as is any other individual member who breaks the law. Likewise, those of age who consume alcohol to the extent of intoxication are subject to similar penalties.
If our brothers ever choose to drink and drive, we face devastating consequences by risking not only our lives but the lives of others, potentially ruining an opportunity for a promising future for ourselves and others. Driving under the influence (DUI) is also against the law, and state legislatures are increasing restrictions by lowering acceptable blood alcohol levels. The result is a sharp increase in DUI prosecutions, which entail not only heavy fines and jail terms, but loss of driver’s license and confiscation of one’s vehicle.
The lack of one’s capacity for restraint caused by alcohol abuse often manifests itself in theft and property damage, both on and off campus. Common offenses include defacing buildings with graffiti; breaking windows; pilfering or destroying furniture and fixtures; vandalizing hotel rooms, automobiles, or public property; stealing street and highway signs.
However, among the most deleterious effects of alcohol abuse are acts of violence against other human beings, both men and women. For example, fist fights and brawls are on the increase on college campuses throughout the continent. They often occur when snowball fights or other ostensibly harmless competitive activities get out of hand. Sometimes they involve an exchange of hostilities among members of the fraternity community, showing a lack of interfraternal regard and harmony. Such antics, which occasionally include the use of weapons, i.e., knives, guns and clubs, portray a thug or mob mentality among the perpetrators. Such acts are totally unacceptable in Sigma Nu because they can cause the prompt demise of our chapter, dissolution of our Brotherhood, and often lawsuits.
The Weaker Sex Is No More
There is no effect of alcohol abuse more devastating than resultant acts of violence against women. Even though the influence of alcohol is not present in every instance of sexual harassment, assault, and date/acquaintance or gang rape, in most cases intoxication is a significant contributing factor.
At Sigma Nu, we make no mistake about it! Rape is a heinous crime. Not only are such abhorrent sexual abuses against the law of the land, they are also against moral law, a law implicit in the philosophical underpinnings of the Legion of Honor. Any amount of rationalization will not negate that hard truth. You will hear on Rhodes College’s campus today that many do not understand what is rape and what is not. They say, “That’s where the problem begins” and suggest “Some men erroneously think that when a woman has agreed to be with him in his room or in some other secluded place, she inherently agrees to a sexual encounter.” Be aware, once and for all, that a woman has a right (indeed a responsibility) to refuse, and should have to say “No” only once. Rhodes College officials will tell you, “Don’t make the situation confrontational. We take her word for it. If she is too intoxicated to make a responsible decision, then it’s up to us to abstain.” The civil and criminal courts tend to agree.
Men who cajole women, or force themselves on them, exhibit the lowest form of wuss-like behavior. They leave no question about their lack of self-control, immaturity, mindlessness, or being a slave to the ill-fated macho “score all you can” fallacy. They are not honorable men, and clearly not Sigma Nu material. They may need professional counseling and, if that fails, incarceration.
Many a male college student has paid the penalty of being accused of rape — endured the humiliation of a grueling court trial, heavy fines, and even jail sentences. His life, not to mention that of his hapless victim, is destroyed. We don’t let this happen to us. Our parents and Rhodes College expects more from us. The freedoms we enjoy at college today introduce a moral challenge. Do self-interests and instant biological gratification supersede responsibility and compassion for others? Every Sigma Nu must address that question when deciding whether one is a “Gentleman of Honor” or an unrestrained boy, even a criminal.
By avoiding an illegal act we may regret the rest of our life, we will avoid having to struggle with the moral issue as well.
The Life You Risk Could Be Your Own
Another very real danger of promiscuity is the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), the most life-threatening of which is AIDS. Even a one-time encounter can be contagious. This gruesome malady is on the rise among the college population, a statistic which suggests that reckless sexual behavior can lead to the devastating physical decay of mind and body – right before the eyes of friends and relatives.
Whether or not promiscuity is a factor in one’s life, even an occasional consensual sexual relationship confronts moral law as defined and espoused by religions, ethicists, and civil codes of acceptable human behavior in both public and private settings. It is not Sigma Nu’s way to dictate what is right, only to open doors to mature, responsible and honorable thinking about every aspect of one’s life, including the most personal and intimate of all. Contrary to the thinking and actions of many, permissiveness is not inherent in the brotherhood ideal. Decisions made in college about sexual relationships will affect those made later, and they should not be taken lightly. Conflicts of morality are also conflicts of the Honor Principle.
Where Do Women Fit In?
In all relationships with women, Sigma Nus apply the precepts of Love, Honor and Truth, as we should in everything we do. They add up to the old-fashioned idea of being a “gentleman.” And what does that mean today? Is it outdated? Sigma Nu says No! Although modern etiquette may indicate some departures from the “rules” of the past, being a gentleman today means what it has always meant: simply a demonstration of one’s true feelings of care and concern, of respect, courtesy and decency. His manners are outward signs of an inward grace. He treats others as he would like to be treated. In short, the Golden Rule still abides.
Sigma Nu believes gentlemanly conduct on and off the campus fosters a positive and enjoyable interaction with sorority members and other women. Community service, Homecoming, and other campus projects and activities such as mixers and formals all promote fun and opportunities for healthy friendships and even romantic ties. These are well and good, a vital part of social development of individuals and groups.
But they pose caveats. When does an activity stop being what it’s supposed to be — acceptable as healthy fun and promoting harmony, goodwill and safety among participants of the opposite sex? There are danger signals that every Sigma Nu, mindful always of his commitment to the values inherent in our Creed, should be aware of and guard against:
Alcohol abuse (it’s been said before but it can’t be emphasized enough) is the foremost cause of problems which occur between men and women. In nearly every instance of sex abuse or date rape, one or both parties has had too much to drink. Being inebriated and out-of-control is no excuse for taking advantage of a woman, even if she has allowed herself to be placed in a vulnerable position. We believe the honorable thing to do with any date (or other person’s date), or a woman guest or visitor who has had too much to drink is to see that she is taken home by a responsible person before harm comes to her. Otherwise, it could become a matter of a lawsuit, even a criminal case. If one is fully aware beforehand of the dangers of alcohol consumption, he or she may avoid a serious social mistake with enormous legal repercussions.
We believe the golden rule is this: How would we want our mothers, sisters, or fiancees treated in any given situation? Treat our ladies and acquaintances the same way.
Where Do Men Fit In?
It’s widely recognized that a boy is socialized to become strong, tough, unemotional. As he grows up, he often views women as weak, submissive sex objects, and even if he genuinely cares for someone, he is influenced to keep his feelings to himself ostensibly so that he can be “one of the guys” who take pleasure in exaggerating sexual exploits. So there arises a conflict between the macho image he thinks he must maintain to compete with, and be accepted by, his male peers, and his genuine feelings of love, respect and courtesy for the women dear to him, such as his mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, girlfriend. Suddenly on his own, surrounded by other unchaperoned men and women, he faces an “anything goes” sexual culture where it’s easy to forget that women, often struggling with how to say no without hurting the other person’s feelings, should be treated with respect, even when they are perceived not to “deserve” it.
But when he is introduced to Sigma Nu, he is reminded that this fraternity is his family away from home. For many, it will only reinforce those strong values already taught by parents; moreover, for the rising number today who come from dysfunctional families, it can, if one lets it, prove that family values of Love, Honor and Truth are constants that can be relied on as beacons on stormy seas. One burdened by emotional problems can find in the tenets of the Sigma Nu Creed a source of vision, strength and stability. Whenever we find one of our brothers tugging at his conscience in the face of temptation to go along with the unprincipled crowd, we reach out, give support, and, if needed, help him seek counseling. If he needs correcting,we do it in a determined voice tempered by caring.
Little Sister Programs
Sigma Nu does not recognize little sister programs and indeed discourages them. It is the consensus of the interfraternity world, including women’s fraternities, that such organizations reduce women to “second class” citizens, degrade them, reinforce the stereotypic view that women are “sexual objects.” Although these allegations may not apply to every little sister organization, elements of each are present, setting the stage for potential problems. The truth is, little sister programs present high risk to fraternities who have them, especially since women’s auxiliaries are not covered by the our liability insurance.
In lieu of little sister programs, Sigma Nu totally supports women’s sororities and encourages the brotherhood to participate with them in social exchanges, community service and other campus activities. By working and socializing together responsibly, Greek men and women develop valuable interpersonal and leadership skills, as well as meaningful relationships that can enhance their lives now and in the future. That’s part of what being a Sigma Nu is all about.
Hazing is against the law in the state of Tennessee. Violators can face serious legal consequences, i.e., fines and jail sentences. Sigma Nu will not tolerate hazing. When hazing becomes evident, our chapter charter may be suspended, our officers removed from office and brought to trial for possible expulsion, as may the hazing perpetrators — be they collegians or alumni. And candidates may be denied initiation if they tolerate hazing.
Sigma Nu Fraternity was founded in direct opposition to hazing. If you believe a member of Sigma Nu or our chapter has participated in an act of hazing, please report concerns to our chapter advisor. We will address the situation immediately according to the Law of Sigma Nu and/or local, state, and federal laws.
You can also call our toll-free Anti-Hazing Hotline at (800) 993-1869 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not have to give your name.