Over the summer I had the honor to attend both the Ruck Leadership Institute and the 2019 Grand Chapter Conclave in Houston, Texas. I was fortunate to attend both of these great conferences with my brothers Caleb Gipple and Matt Barton. My experience at Conclave was especially impactful and made me realize the true meaning of the lifetime responsibility of brotherhood.
The Grand Chapter Conclave is a bi-annual meeting of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where thousands of SigEps come together to vote on new legislation to change the national bylaws and establish a shared vision for the fraternity moving forward for the next two years. Another large part of Conclave is for brothers to celebrate successes across the country. There are many award ceremonies throughout the week, for both alumni and undergraduates, including the awarding of the Buchanan Outstanding Chapter Award (Buc Cup) which is given out to the highest performing
chapters in the nation.
At Conclave, I represented our chapter as our delegate. As a delegate, I was responsible to attend legislative sessions throughout the weekend as well as voting on legislation that will help push our fraternity further into the future. Being a delegate was one of my favorite experiences at Conclave, as it showed what truly makes Sigma Phi Epsilon unique: the power that is given to undergraduates. In SigEp, undergraduates are trusted with the ability to lead the fraternity in through voting on organization changing legislation that goes into the national bylaws, which is unique to SigEp. I believe that this power is why our organization continues to be on the frontline of change.
Also at Conclave, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Donors Gala, thanks to the generosity of Tom Barton, a mentor of our chapter. Attending the gala opened my eyes to the world of SigEp after college. Seeing the generosity of the people in the room as they raised money to give undergrads the conclave experience far into the future was inspiring. The fact that so many alumni were willing to give back to the fraternity reaffirmed in me how impactful our time in college and Sigma Phi Epsilon can be. After this experience, I can say without a doubt that I will be a lifetime volunteer to SigEp, in an attempt to replicate the impact that the alumni volunteers at the gala have had on me and SigEp.
Perhaps the greatest highlight of my time at Conclave was the Brotherhood Awards Ceremony. I was nervous going into the ceremony, after working many hours on our chapter’s Buchanan Cup application with our chapter’s former president, Ben Hirdler and others. As awards were presented, the tension grew until our Buc Cup was announced. I was ecstatic and could not have been more proud of my chapter as I went on stage to accept our award. Winning this award means a lot and serves as proof that our chapter is providing an excellent experience to our members as we continue to strive to innovate to more successes. The experience of sharing this moment with my brothers and alumni of our chapter was incredible and a moment I will never forget.
Overall, my experience at Conclave was incredible. It gave me a chance to experience SigEp on a national level like I never have before and showed me the true impact of the SigEp experience after undergrad, and I am so grateful to all of the people that made this experience possible for me and my other undergrad brothers. I am excited to be back home at my chapter to continue our tradition of excellence and can not wait to go to many more Conclaves in the future.
If you are interested in helping future members of SigEp IA Theta develop their leadership skills by attending events and conferences such as the Grand Chapter Conclave, please consider making a tax deductible donation to the IA Theta Leadership Fund.
Meet the Author
Hugh Zehr ’21
Economics major and Music minor