Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about Convocation? We have taken your questions and concerns into account and created an FAQ. The below FAQ will address many of the outstanding questions regarding Convocation cancellation, future plans, fraternal business, fees, and more. If you have any additional inquiries, feel free to reach out to your point of contact at the Executive Office at any time.
Has Convocation ever been cancelled?
Convocation has been cancelled or postponed three other times in our Fraternity’s history. The first such postponement, in 1918, was due to World War I and the postponements in 1932 and 1936 were products of bad economic conditions in the United States. To compensate for those postponements, the Fraternity combined the 6th & 7th, 13th & 14th, and 15th & 16th Biennial Convocations of the Grand Chapter. To compensate for this 2020 postponement, we will convene the 55th & 56th Convocation in 2022.
When and where will the next Convocation take place?
The next Convocation will take place in 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. This will be the 125th anniversary celebration of Sigma Pi.
What happens with the awards that are presented at Convocation?
Awards will still be given out to recognize accomplishments within the Fraternity. Use this time to complete your chapter workbooks and Standards of Excellence. The Executive Office is working with the Grand Council to determine the logistics of presenting awards. An awards application will be made available in April 2020.
How will the Grand Council structure work without elections?
The current board of directors will remain in place until the election process takes place at the 2022 Convocation. If an individual director chooses to relinquish his position on the board, the remaining board members, by majority vote, can appoint a replacement.
Does it cost the Fraternity anything to cancel with the venue?
The short answer is yes, over $53,000 with escalating fees based on timelines. At this time, the Fraternity has enacted the “Impossibility Clause” within the signed agreement due to the global pandemic. However, the Executive Office and Legal Counsel are currently working with the venue on other options as well, including use of the venue in another year.
If public meeting bans and social distancing are ended before the original convocation dates, will we reconsider having the 2020 Convocation?
Unfortunately, we will not be able to reconsider this decision. As you can imagine, there are many factors that go into the planning and execution of a large scale event such as Convocation, including logistics such as registration, hotel bookings, audio/visual setup, manpower, and many more factors.
Will the Fraternity be returning to New Orleans for any future events?
As noted above, discussions are ongoing with the venue that was to be used for the 2020 Convocation regarding the possibility of use for a future conference.
What happens to the Convocation dues that chapter’s have paid in this biennium?
Spring 2020 Convocation dues that were invoiced on March 1, will be waived. Chapters who already submitted payment will have those dues applied to any outstanding balance. Chapters who already submitted payment and have no outstanding balance will have a credit on their account.
Assessment dues from Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Fall 2019 will be held in the Convocation Reserve Fund. These funds will be safeguarded and used to further discount registration costs for chapter delegates at the 2022 Convention.
Does this decision impact semi-annual dues at all?
The decision to cancel Convocation has no bearing on semi-annual dues. The Fraternity will not refund or discount semi-annual dues. Your chapter is still required to pay all outstanding charges that have been billed (except for those noted regarding Spring 2020 Convocation Dues).
- Continuing Chapter Operations
Chapter Meetings: If your school recommends canceling all in-person meetings/gatherings, we recommend reading this article that highlights the best way to engage remote meetings. This is also a good time to stay in touch with members who may be dealing with loneliness as well, so schedule virtual study sessions, brotherhood nights, and so forth.
Chapter Workbook and SOE: Now is a good time to get caught up with your reports to boost your scores for the Standards of Excellence. These will be used to identify the Grand Chapter Award Winners, and play a role in the Grand Council Awards and Grand Sage Cups per tier.
New Member Education Programs: Use this time to conduct virtual meetings and continue to provide education on Sigma Pi, your chapter and prepare them to be members.
Pledge steps: 170 new members still need to complete the required pledge steps. They cannot be submitted on an initiation report until these have been completed. Members who are not properly reported are not covered under the Sigma Pi insurance program including the Membership Accidental Protection Program.
Initiation Reports: You can still report your new initiates and get them registered and paid for. This will also provide the opportunity to have their materials ahead of time so you can give them out when you are able to conduct The Golden Quest initiatory right.
Tightrope: 489 members still need to complete the Tightrope program. We are moving the deadline from March 12 to April 15 to provide these members with additional time to complete them.
Accounts Receivable: For chapters with accounts receivable, use this time to pay your bills, and ensure you can pay your local bills. Also allows you to collect your dues and put into a savings account to provide positive cash flow when school resumes in the Fall.
Orchid Balls: Review your contracts for terms on cancellations. You may need to hire an attorney to see if you can get a refund if you already paid a deposit.
Graduating Seniors: Many of you have members who will not be able to experience their final semester on campus. Please review the Graduation Ceremonies and make plans to conduct this for them virtually.
Recruitment: Right now there are many men on campus without a support system like a Fraternity. This is a great time to do virtual recruitment meetings and get to know them and show that in times like this, it is important to have brothers in your life. Our colleagues at PhiredUp will be providing two webinars on virtual recruitment which you can find online at this link.
- Housing Corporation
NOTE: Sigma Pi Fraternity does not represent individual house corporations. What we share here is not legal advice, only information on where housing corporation leaders can find information that may be of assistance.
Is there any financial assistance that housing corporations can look into?
The US Small Business Administration has created a page for COVID-19 small business loan guidance. On Tuesday, March 17, SBA revised the criteria for states seeking an economic injury declaration related to COVID-19 to make it easier to qualify. We encourage you to make sure your house corporations are looking at this program, which is likely to evolve significantly in coming days as Congress passes modifications and injects hundreds of billions of dollars into the program. A group should apply for support as soon as possible if they are eligible because the new criteria to come may or may not be as favorable and demand for this program will soon far outstrip financial capacity. A helpful one-pager with information about the process can be found here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Documents/SBA-Disaster-Assistance-Loans-Businesses-Nonprofits.pdf
How do we limit the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19?
There is ample and easily accessed information about how to limit your risk of contracting or spreading this virus. Apply that advice to the care and use of your facility. Be familiar with the information produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), especially as it pertains to colleges and universities.
What should a person who is experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms do?
Immediately seek a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. However, the latest information suggests that one should first attempt to communicate with a health care provider via remote means. Going to a healthcare facility with other people who are also not feeling well could be an unnecessary risk. If remote access is not possible, then physically go to the local healthcare facility as soon as possible.
What happens if a resident is diagnosed with COVID-19?
According to health care professionals, a person diagnosed does not necessarily have to be hospitalized, especially younger people. If a resident is diagnosed with COVID-19, the health care provider should prescribe the necessary actions and protocol. At a minimum, that person is likely to be quarantined and it is reasonable to expect the health care professionals would include at least some form of quarantine for the entire facility and its residents. Be sure that the chapter and house corporation receive and follow the direction given by the local officials.
Should our facility be cleaned any differently?
It is recommended that routine cleaning occur more often, but a deep cleaning of your facility with the intent to disinfect is best left to professionals. Hazing is prohibited; as such, cleaning of common areas in a facility should never be an exclusive task for one group of members. Cleaning of common areas should be a shared task of the entire membership.
Should we still host events at the chapter house?
Follow your university and/or state/local government’s guidance on gatherings of large groups of people.
What happens if our campus closes or moves to online classes only?
Unless your chapter house or the land beneath it is owned by the university, leases involving the chapter facility should not be impacted if the school chooses to do only online classes and close on-campus housing. Landlords and tenants should be expected to honor their lease obligations. House corporations should consult with their legal counsel if there is any uncertainty on this position.
Can we file an insurance claim for COVID-19-related expenses or loss?
The presence or threat of COVID–19 in a chapter facility would not normally be a covered peril in commercial property-casualty insurance. Therefore, do not expect a successful insurance claim for any costs or losses related to proactive or reactive cleaning, or disruption in revenue, caused by COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 impact our meal plan operation?
It has been determined that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through food. Communicate with your kitchen operations team about following the guidelines suggested by the CDC as it pertains to meal preparation. If your kitchen operation is outsourced to a third party, that provider should have already communicated with you about the actions they are taking to continue the delivery of safe meals.
- Upcoming and Recorded Resources
Date, Time Description (Click to View/Register) Host April 30, 1:00 p.m. ET Reboot Your Fundraising Event
The Chronicle of Philanthropy Upcoming List of Upcoming Webinars from the NIC NIC Upcoming List of Upcoming Leadership Webinars from Dale Carnegie Dale Carnegie Upcoming List of Upcoming Webinars from CAMPUSPEAK CAMPUSPEAK Recorded and Upcoming Recruitment and Growth Education Webinars Phired Up Recorded Introduction to OmegaOne Tutorial OmegaFi Recorded Event Management: What You Need to Know About Postponing and Cancelling Events CharityHowTo Recorded Staying in Touch and Navigating Remote Operations NIC Recorded Using Crises to Refine Strategy Supporting Your Fraternity/Sorority Councils NIC Recorded Connecting Through Closures and Chaos NIC Recorded Leveraging Your Board: Smart Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Response Stefanie Krievins in partnership with JGA
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Links
- General Resources
- Symptoms and Cases
- Mental Health, Coping, and Stopping Stigma
- CDC Video Playlist
- Printable Posters
Sigma Pi Resources
- Virtual Meetings
Need to have an executive board meeting, recruitment committee meeting, meeting with your advisors, or something else? Host a virtual meeting through one of the following:
Google offers Hangouts where up to 10 attendees can meet via video. With a gmail account, you can meet on demand, or schedule through your Google calendar by “adding conferencing.”
Skype offers free video and call conferences for up to 50 attendees. This tool also offers screen and audio recording for any information that needs to be shared with a member who can not attend.
Zoom Video Communications
Zoom offers free video conferencing for up to 100 attendees. With the free version, calls are limited to 40 minutes.
Need to host a larger group – maybe the whole chapter for a workshop, meeting or program? Or need to record the meeting to share later? Your Chapter Management Associate can set up a virtual meeting through the Executive Office Google G-Suite account. This tool allows up to 250 attendees PLUS allows you to record and share with members who could not attend.
- Find new ways to continue education and growth to your chapter members.
- Alumni webcast series: Find an alumni who specializes in a specific topic, or has knowledge of a specific field, and ask them to share his experience with the chapter via one of the virtual meeting platforms.
- Utilizing your alumni, conduct mock interviews to prepare for internship interviews. This can be done over the phone or online through a virtual meeting.
- Conduct a philanthropic event through an online push to raise funds. There are several critical nonprofits that could use financial assistance, including local food banks, animal shelters, and small businesses initiatives in your community.
- Host a book club or podcast review.
- Set a couple of times during the week for a hangout session, where brothers can just come in and talk about various topics; no structure needed. Utilize one of the virtual meeting options to make it happen.
- Taking virtual tours of museums is a great way to learn history together.
- Do a virtual workout. Do you have a chapter brother who’s really into physical fitness? Have him lead a workout via one of the options for a virtual meeting.
- Host a movie night, or binge watch your favorite shows together. You can use a third party tool like Netflix Party to all watch together through a synchronized stream.
- Esports are growing in popularity right now without physical sports to hold us over. Try hosting a video game tournament. FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, Call of Duty, you name it; there are plenty of games to get a group together playing. Additionally, just organize times to play a video game together online through multiplayer.
- Split the chapter into smaller groups, designate an executive board member to lead each group in a virtual brotherhood meet-up, and assign groups based on members interests.
- Pair members of the chapter with someone they do not know well can give them an opportunity to build new relationships. Use free online randomizers to easily pair members or small groups. You can rotate these groups every few weeks.
- This is often an extremely exciting time for a new member, as they are getting more involved within your brotherhood. With social distancing, they are losing out on that experience. Find ways to get them engaged within your chapter, whether through activities listed above, or through the opportunity to serve on a “virtual” committee.
- Find new ways to continue education and growth to your chapter members.
- Social Media Tips
Navigating through this pandemic has been a unique experience for each of us. Never before have we seen something of this nature and magnitude affect our daily lives, and we’re continuing to learn new ways of doing things daily.
With this in mind, engagement of your current members and recruitment of potential new members will be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. During this time and beyond into the future, it’ll be important for your chapters to utilize social media in new and creative ways.
We’ve outlined a few things below that I believe can help you elevate your social media strategy.
- Start at the Sigma Pi Resources page. In the Chapter Marketing Resources section, you’ll find our Brand Standards, Logos (including logos specifically developed for your chapter), and a Fraternity Fast Facts document. That page also includes a Social Media Best Practices guide that may help you and your chapter brothers.
- Our friends at Phired Up have put together some great resources regarding digital recruitment. I would start HERE, and then check out their free resources page.
- Increase your content and engagement on your social media channels. Here are a few Sigma Pi chapters who have have a good foundation of content.
- Create a social media calendar so that you aren’t sporadically posting content without a plan. This will allow you to have structure so you know what and when you’re posting. This can be as simple as a Google Doc, or utilize software like Later.com.
- Get creative with your social media content.
- Profiles of seniors (and their next steps if solid)
- Profiles of alumni
- Profiles of new members that they recruit virtually
- Sharing about their virtual events
- Campaigns to create connectedness: Spirit Day (wearing org shirt or university shirt), Share your WFH space, Meet my Pet, etc
Again, we hope this helps you and your chapter, and wish you good luck as you continue through this changing landscape.
- We believe that most chapters have completed their recruitment during this time, however, only 61% of chapters have reported new members. Please submit your new member report so we can ensure new members have access to member emails.
- If you have not yet completed and/or are looking to conduct a second round of recruitment this semester, please make sure you are coordinating with your Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisor and taking all precautionary measures for events.
- Establish weekly recruitment committee meetings over a virtual meeting platform. Use this as a time to clean up your potential new member list and add more names to it.
- Continue to work your PNM list and engage them! During this time, digital interaction is important. Conduct member interviews through video chat or text message, play an online video game together to interact, etc. Most importantly, make sure you’re staying in touch with PNMs throughout the time you’re away from campus. Don’t let your momentum slip away.
- Extend bids via Facetime or video call. Mail or email a bid card, and follow up to get him registered. Call PNMs to follow up on their decision and to continue to engage with them on a regular basis.
- Since there may not be in-person aspects of chapter operations to involve him in right now, set up time virtually for the chapter to connect. Try and educate them on the fraternity and chapter and gauge their interest in varying roles in the brotherhood.
- Retention is challenging, so staying connected is key! If members are able to keep strong friendship ties and find value in Sigma Pi during this time, they’re far more likely to return to the chapter in the fall.
- Digital Recruitment Resources from Phired Up
- Chapter Support
- Please reach out to your Chapter Management Associate to determine if there is an available upcoming timeslot to host video and phone meetings with your chapter officers and advisors throughout the week (if you are not already meeting regularly).
- Chapter Meetings
- Follow the recommendations made by your educational institution on regular gatherings for all registered student organizations.
- If your school recommends canceling all in-person meetings/gatherings, we recommend reading this article that highlights the best way to engage remote meetings.
- If you maintain housing, contact your local institution to learn about policies and procedures that might affect access, resources, and support.
- Begin to develop a plan, should the institution move to online learning, to ensure your living space and chapter members are safe, secure, and adequately accommodated.
- In the case that an individual within one of your housing facilities is feeling ill and/or is diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the recommendations made by your educational institution immediately for next steps.
- We ask that all Alumni Housing Corporation Board officers communicate with the host institution to learn more about any precautionary measures or steps that should be taken.
- New Member Education
- Many of you are in the middle of your new member education process. We ask that you identify any opportunity for remote learning for new member meetings that would traditionally take place in-person. Limit the amount of events where large numbers of members and guests might gather.
- If your institution moves to online learning for the remainder of the semester, please notify the Executive Office through your Chapter Management Associate so we can adjust expectations accordingly.
- For any questions regarding modifying your new member educational program virtually, please contact your Chapter Management Associate.
- We are asking all chapters to revisit their new member plan and have all initiations completed by March 31st, 2020 unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
- Many of you will soon be approaching initiation for your spring new member class. Please conduct the Formal Ritual Process by the date mentioned above.
- Social/Philanthropic Events
- Please follow the recommendations made by your educational institution on social engagements, philanthropic events, fundraising events, and gatherings (including fraternity/sorority formals) for all registered student organizations.
- If your school recommends canceling all formal meetings/gatherings, we recommend reading this article that highlights the best way to engage remote meetings.
- Alumni and Volunteers
Volunteers are the key to continuity for chapter members, and can be a critical outlet as officers and members grapple with their changing environment. Here is guidance to working with hour undergraduate brothers in this time:
- Check-in with officers via Zoom or Google Hangout.
- To help encourage a sense of routine, support the leaders of the chapter through weekly virtual conversations.
- In addition to aiding chapter operations, check in with undergraduate members on any concerns they may have personally and academically, including the academic structure, commencement ceremonies, or any financial concerns.
- Help establish virtual chapter meetings with chapter officers.
- Through the resources we have provided, support chapter officers in creating virtual operations for the chapter.
- Encourage officers to hold executive board meetings weekly via Zoom or Google Hangout, and help them outline an agenda:
- How is everyone feeling? Mentally? Physically? Emotionally?
- When normal operations resume, what core areas of chapter operations do we need to have in place to ensure chapter success moving forward?
- Communicate chapter/volunteer/alumni needs to broader audiences.
- As our undergraduates are settling into their virtual environments, ask them about specific areas of support or needs that they might have. Communicate those needs to your alumni and volunteer base, campus fraternity and sorority life office, and the chapter director.
- We are all committed to building a great Sigma Pi experience. If our undergraduate officers, volunteers or alumni have a question, it will be paramount to communicate with Sigma Pi and the campus at large. By crowdsourcing and relying on other’s strengths, we will be able to create the best experience possible for our members. Reach out to us via email, phone, or social media, we are here to help.
- Check-in with officers via Zoom or Google Hangout.