By Katie Zeck
Correction: Sigma Phi Epsilon received the Residential Learning Community Award, not the Residential Community Leadership Award.
The brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SPE) were presented with the Residential Community Leadership (RCL) award last Saturday at Carlsons Leadership Academy in Stamford, Conn., by the national headquarters of SPE.
The RCL Award is a prestigious honor. Fewer than 40 of the 283 national chapters of SPE have received it.
“To obtain RCL status, a chapter must have a good relationship with a faculty member, personal and academic development for all members, a clean and presentable fraternity house conducive for learning, and good relationships with alumni and volunteers,” explained RCL chairman sophomore Stephen Eastburn.
The university’s chapter went above and beyond to exceed these standards. As a part of the academic development requirement, SPE increased the minimum GPA for members to a 2.85. This average is .35 higher than the university obligates a student to have in order to join a Greek-letter organization.
The fraternity also set a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.05 for members of the executive board. SPE also directed multiple new academic programs to meet the award’s scholastic standards.
“Over the past few semesters, the chapter has implemented several initiatives to challenge their members academically. They initiated the ‘Fantasy Academics’ program which places members with higher GPAs as mentors to members with lower GPAs to encourage them to do better. Each fantasy academic team then strives to gain the highest GPA among the groups,” said SPE’s house director, Jacquelyn Wonsey.
In addition to these incentive programs, the fraternity attended lectures and discussions about ethics and ethical decision-making from its faculty fellow, Todd Weber.
“He is very involved with the lives of the brothers, from setting up dinners where we can all get together to starting a chapter book club. He would also meet with us almost weekly about improving the chapter,” Eastburn said.
The fraternity began its application for the RCL award during the 2009-2010 school year. With the combined efforts of all the brothers and help from Weber, SPE was able to meet the requirements necessary to win the award.
Another key aspect of qualifying for the RCL award was the participation in leadership activities outside of the fraternity.
Leadership was an integral part of the application, calling for members of the fraternity to play a role in the community that surrounds the fraternity. Currently, leadership positions that the brothers of Rider’s SPE hold include SGA President, SGA Treasurer, Greek Life President, Interfraternal Council President, Office of Greek Life Risk Management Chair, Appeals Council Chairman as well as multiple Resident Advisors.
The final component of the RCL application is maintaining good relationships with alumni and volunteers.
“We have a volunteer group for our fraternity known as the AVC, or Alumni Volunteer Corporation. This group meets monthly to help improve the lives of our undergraduate chapter. They are very involved with our chapter operations,” Eastburn said.
Wonsey complimented the men on their hard work and efforts toward bettering themselves and their organization.
“As their house director I am especially proud of the chapter and where it is going,” she said. “The men of the NJ Zeta chapter work hard to challenge the ‘frat-boy’ image and emulate the true meaning of fraternity. They constantly show themselves as leaders in their organization, on campus and academically. We are all very proud and excited for this accomplishment.”