"Coop's Consuls Column" 

Worthy brothers and readers alike,

 

I am addressing you all from somewhere above the Appalachian Mountains, as I return home to Charlottesville, Virginia during semester break 2020-2021. In my long journey back home, I have had time to recollect this semester as a whole. I consider our successes, and more importantly why we were able to achieve such great things in such an unfortunate time.

 

The paramount mantra that has served as my guiding light, especially in my tenure as consul, was delivered to me throughout my youth by my father (Consul ‘84 - Alpha Psi chapter): “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.” To paraphrase in a more appealing and relevant way, as I do frequently to my brothers in our chapter meetings, “It’s not the cards we are dealt that matter, it’s how we play the hand.” The whole world, and especially our country, has been obviously derailed due to the pandemic. To continue the poker analogy, we were dealt a sort of 2-7 offsuit hand this year. However, adversity is part of the game. And after concluding this semester, I am extremely proud to report that we played our hand with competence and a zest for the game.

 

Being located in one of the worst possible areas in terms of COVID outbreaks, we were met by harsh policies and an unforgiving administration as we returned to campus this fall. Luckily for me, however, I was also greeted by a phenomenal undergraduate executive board made up of my best friends and exceptional young leaders (who are looking for jobs by the way, get ‘em while you can, they’re going fast). Upon returning to school in August, we gathered (socially distanced of course) at the home of our new Chapter Advisor, Jeff Schwartz, and discussed the upcoming year. It was there that we realized together, firstly, how fortunate we are to have Jeff and incredible alumni support, but also that we were all eager and able to lead the house toward a successful year, despite the circumstances. 

 

So, fast forward to now, where I sit in the window seat overlooking the beautiful Southern-American landscape. It is difficult to measure the success of a fraternity, but it is worth addressing the various things that have made me proud of the Alpha Upsilon chapter during this trying year. We began the year without a playbook, as the school hit us immediately with formidable expectations for COVID response. However, we responded swiftly and drafted COVID policies that the IFC actually used for their own and encouraged other chapters to adopt. These policies, and a care for the well-being of the chapter, limited our cases and kept our house from becoming a hotspot - which may not sound like a lot, but in a house of 36 socially-driven 20ish year olds, it is quite impressive. Next, we entered rush with an adept committee of rush chairman inspired by the Jordan Standard. The result was more than 90% of the potential new members out of 203 total listing Sigma Chi their first-choice chapter out of 15. We ended up with a pledge class of 21 phenomenal young men with different temperaments, talents, and convictions. Lastly, while we were told to stay hidden and were kept from having any sort of social event, our sense of brotherhood certainly remained strong. Through virtual chapter meetings we continued to practice limited ritual, and people found ways to safely spend time with their brothers. We held elections for various new positions and, in each role, we had a number of brothers step up and show interest in furthering the well-being of the house. Having set the standard on the row for what it means to be a successful fraternity during a pandemic, I have all the faith in the world that we are in for round two of progression and prosperity in the spring, as well as a triumphant future in general. 

 

In hoc signo vinces,

 

Cooper Allen

2020-2021 Consul

Sigma Chi at USC

Alpha Upsilon 2020-21 Consul Cooper Allen