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RUSH AND THE VIRUS: THE CLASH CONTINUES

Alpha Upsilon finds a way to succeed in spring rush by pledging 23 of the best men

Imagine bearing the foundational responsibility of bringing new brothers to Alpha Upsilon to continue its strength and values - yet having to do so on zoom.

"To be honest with you, I'm not a big fan of zoom at all," said 2022-23 Rush Chairman Shane Premer in a giant understatement. "It's hard to have a roundtable discussion. You can really only have a conversation with one kid at a time."

Yet for the fifth rush in a row, USC and the Trojan Interfraternity Council mandated that at least part of spring rush would be done remotely because the Covid-19 Omicron variant was raging through the student population.

Sure, some of the rush activities were done in person they way it used to be done. But to slow the spread of the virus, zoom was back.

The number of men who signed up for rush was also way down - again. The university opened the rush registration window for only four days.

Nevertheless, the Alpha Upsilon brothers did extraordinarily well pledging 23 quality men.

"There were only around 600 potential new members and we believe that we got the 23 best guys," reports Consul Andrew Blokdyk. "There are a few legacies, legacy recommendations, and athletes in the mix as well. 

Premer said rush always puts pressure on the rush leadership team but yet another Covid rush added more pressure. "Your bringing in the new supply of kids and these kids have to uphold our values," he said. "There's definitely a little stress because I wanted to do the best job I could.” He praised the current team including Spencer Wardwell, Ben Duncan, Xander Guarna and Brayden Bourquez.

SPRING PLEDGES

Sam Bevevino. Malvern, PA

Jackson Stimmler. Pasadena

Marko Ilincic. Cypress, CA

Ethan Zuckerman. Sherman Oaks

Joe Grode. Los Angeles

Luke Schroth. Yarrow Point, WA

Tommy Brittingham, Santa Barbara

Charlie Levisay. Evanston, IL

Alex Park. Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

Cutler Low. Napa.

Joey Vargas Brownlee. Costa Mesa.

Aidan Banan. Santa Barbara.

Benny Moglia. Hermosa Beach.

Tucker Gannon. Lafayette, CA

Kobie Nikka. Los Angeles.

Blake Jackson. Newport Beach.

Gao Ganjin. McLean, VA

Will Brown. Vail, CO

Miller Moss. Pacific Palisades. 

Patrick Kupiec. Mahattan Beach

Adam Pfeifer. Denver, CO

Tommy Wachtell. Boise, ID

Mattie O'Toole. Barrington, IL

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RUSH CHAIRMAN: Shane Premer. If you have a rush recommendation, you can reach Shane at shpremer@gmail.com

Meet the Alpha Upsilon Chapter Advisor Jeffrey Schwartz, here.

Meet other chapter officers, here.

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The Consul and the Pandemic

Just one more example of Sigma Chi

honoring our AU undergraduate brothers

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During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic that swept the world, Consul Andrew Blokdyk was working as an EMT - one of the first responders who suddenly found themselves doing heroic work but also putting themselves at great risk by being in close proximity to people so sick with the virus that they were being rushed to emergency rooms.

To honor those Pandemic Responders, Sigma Chi created a special recognition pin to thank them. And we, too, want to thank the man in the leadership position at Alpha Upsilon. Way to go, Andrew. 

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When 66 receive

the White Cross

- at one time 

During one ceremony, 66 men were initiated into Sigma Chi on October 10th in what could be the largest investiture in Alpha Upsilon history.

"Amazing!" said Annotator Jacob Grode.

The ceremony included 45 brothers who were given "the Founders Initiation" during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when full initiations were delayed. A Founders Initiation makes the man a full brother and presents him his pin but the complete explanatory ceremony is held for another time. And this weekend was that time.

Another 21 men from the current pledge class were also initiated.

"“I was quite a feat, no doubt about it,” said Grand Praetor Harry Palmer who was there throughout. "They overcame the challenges."

Further, the ceremony had to be held this weekend even though it was Parents Weekend with festivities on Friday and Saturday. At some point, parents were guided away.

The ceremony was held off site at a venue large enough to hold the 70 men plus undergraduate members as well as more than a dozen alumni, according to Grode, a junior from LA.

Gene Erbstoesser, an AU Constantine Sig, Significant Sig and former chapter advisor, said "Personally, I am especially proud of the fact that we had non-AU Sigs step forward to serve with us." Twenty-two alums attended with more than a dozen participating in alumni duties.

Kustos Grant Bennett, who graduates in December, and the rest of the executive committee did a lot of planning and walkthroughs to pull it off seamlessly. Because of the pandemic, it was the first initiation in a year and a half, the first many undergrads had ever seen as brothers. "Watching it on the other side was definitely eye-opening for me," Grand said. Once the ceremony began, Grant said as Kustos he could finally relax and enjoy the emotions.

"We work well as a team," said Grode. "So, it actually went rather smoothly." And, yes, the entire group ended with a Good of the Order.

"It took a while," smiled Grode. "Right now,  everyone is running around trying to clean up."

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UNDERGRADS AND ALUMS COME TOGETHER AGAIN FOR AN HISTORIC INITIATION OF 66 MEN AT ALPHA UPSILON: On left above is (left to right) senior Bandon Browning, Brett Browning, new initiate Justin Browning, new initiate Grant Glessing and Andy Jessup. Above right are 13 of the 14 alums who participated (not listed in order) Dan Vogelzang, Trevor Webb, Jay Gooding, Geoff Arrobio, Jerry Anderson, Kevin Bidenkap, Paxton Fuller, Art Suazo, Brett Browning, Nick Doder, John Cervenka, Andy Jessup and David McEnany. There were 22 total alumni in attendance from a variety of chapters.

OUR AWARD-WINNING TROJAN SIG HOUSE CORPORATION is also represented among these skilled alumni brothers. And we thank them for all the work they do to keep our chapter operating professionally and reliably. Read how the House Corporation has won top national honors from Sigma Chi headquarters four years in a row. CLICK HERE.

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Sweetheart of Sigma Chi at Alpha Upsilon

Alumni Brothers, meet the 2021 Alpha Upsilon Sweetheart of Sigma Chi Nicole Halverson. She's the Delta Gamma Vice President of Member Education. Nicole is from Palos Verdes majoring in Business Administration and will graduate in 2022.

Congratulations, Nicole! And welcome to Sigma Chi.

New Consul can't wait to return Alpha Upsilon

to normal after pandemic disruption

by Andrew Blokdyk

Consul 2021-22

Worthy brothers,

 

As summer begins to come to a close, I’m excited to begin a new year with the opening of campus and the return of in-person activities. For those who don’t know me, let me introduce myself and elaborate on a few goals that my exec board and I have for the coming year. I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, which has naturally shaped my life around the ocean, as I enjoy fishing and surfing. The ocean is an outstanding teacher of patience, respect, and courage. The responsibility of being Consul encompasses many things, including being a leader, a friend, and a brother, with the main goal of ensuring the longevity of the chapter. To add, I’m venturing into my senior year studying Business Administration and pursuing a career as a firefighter. 

 

This coming year, I’m full of ambition as the school reopens and is slowly heading back toward normal. A few things that I would like to see this year with our chapter include setting up a better connection with our active members and alumni. This would only add to the excitement of in-person events, and allow for better networking between active Sigs and those who helped pave the path for us today. With this in mind, the best thing I can do this year is to help provide the greatest Sigma Chi experience possible by maintaining the relationship with all those who are involved from the school to alumni. These relationships are crucial to every brother so we can get the most out of being a Sigma Chi. This year, after being online the past couple semesters, the tone is set for the future of the house and what Sigma Chi stands for. I want to make sure that every brother has the opportunity to share the same experience with future sons, as I was able to do with my own father, an Alpha Upsilon Sig and Consul (as seen in the accompanying article). 

 

While talking with my executive board, I chronicled various goals each brother has for this coming year. With rush, we hold a great responsibility to make sure the young men receiving bids are men of good character and uphold our values. We plan on having a great rush this fall and spring, and hope to gain lots of new brothers who all share the high morals and convictions of being a true Sigma Chi. As a chapter, we look to not only find great men but those who have common interests and bring in fresh new ones. 

CONSUL'S CORNER

Some great news: We are expecting to have a full house this coming year. This will require a high level of responsibility and work, and our housing managers are ready to tackle any task that comes their way. They also have ambitious plans to repair our basketball court, have our common areas updated, and be ready for the return of our brothers for fall semester. Keeping the house well protected and safe for all is a main priority. 

 

The return of normalcy this upcoming year means that our social chairs have been hard at work, bettering our relationships with other houses on the row and planning events. They have a few unique goals for this year. For example, the Row has become increasingly hierarchical in the past few years. Following the pandemic, Sigma Chi is hoping to break down the stigmas around Greek Life Hierarchy and welcome not only all members of Greek Life into our social events, but those outside of it as well. The friends we’ve made throughout Greek Life have helped us through the hardships that the pandemic has brought. So, we’d love to have more people experience the impactful relationships that can be made within this “community” and so the school can see the value of the Greek environment - especially Sigma Chi. The social chairs also plan on holding unique events that will uphold the school’s standards and prevent the spread of Covid. Along with this, they’ve also been looking into the past to examine what has contributed to making Alpha Upsilon the chapter it is. We want to keep those inspirations coming and infuse them with new ideas. 

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Overall, I could not be more excited about this coming year. It’ll resume the standards that’ve been set for all true brotherhood. We could not have more successful navigated the pandemic, thanks to previous Consul Cooper Allen. And I look to continue that momentum. The future of the house rides the shoulders of not only me and the rest of the executive board, but all the brothers of Sigma Chi. We look to make the most of this coming year and continue to produce gentlemen of Sigma Chi. I am honored to be in this position and look forward to leading by example and with commitment. 

 

In Hoc Signo Vinces,

 

Andrew Blokdyk  

Consul 2021-22

consul@sigmachiau.com

More than 30 years later, a Consul initiates his son. What happened next is "every Sig's dream"

The emotional moment came last year during initiation when Steven Blokdyk (AU ‘90) pinned the White Cross on the chest of his son Andrew. So proud was Steven that he brought some of his Sig brothers with him. Eyes everywhere welled with tears.

 

It was especially gratifying for Steven because, in 1990, more than 30 years ago, he was Consul at Alpha Upsilon. And here he was initiating his son.

 

Little did Steven know that one short year after he pinned a pin on Andrew that his son would, just like him, be elected the new Consul at Alpha Upsilon for 2021-2022.

 

“I treasure my dad so much and look up to him,” said Andrew. “It’s really great to follow in his footsteps.” 

 

“That means a lot to me,” Steven says. “I think it’s every Sigma Chi’s dream to have a son and hope he might become a Sig one day. For that to happen and to also be elected Consul at the same chapter I was Consul, makes me so unbelievably proud and quite frankly a little emotional.”

 

Undergraduate brothers at AU voted to make Andrew their new Consul during chapter the last week of April. He takes over from Cooper Allen who has done a remarkable job steering the ship during an existential pandemic storm that blunted nearly every fraternity activity and struck at the spirit of the undergrads. We should all give deep gratitude to Coop’s leadership. It may not have been the kind of year he envisioned as Consul. But we’re glad to have had him during such a historically challenging time.

 

“After this long year of Covid,” Andrew says about his brothers, “I just want to make sure the rest of their time at college and in the house is up to their expectations.” Almost all traditional events were cancelled. 

 

“It was pretty tough for a while,” he says. ““I’m just really excited for this position. Especially with opening school next semester.” In fact, Andrew believes it’ll be one of the most rewarding years to be a Consul because Covid is coming to an end and there’ll be a feeling of rejuvenation.

 

Andrew, a junior, is from Huntington Beach. He’s an EMT when not at school, is majoring in business and intends to be a fireman after graduating.

 

His other priority for his term as Consul is communicating with alumni. 

 

His father is a Senior Director with Salient, an investment firm. 

 

“I know some alums through my dad,” he says. “They’d love to come to the house.” So, Andrew intends to hold alumni events at the chapter house as soon as Covid is fully behind us.

 

Steven remembers wanting to make certain his son considered other fraternities and did not push Sigma Chi. He even told the Consul at the time to give Andrew no special treatment. “I let him know Andrew should not be chosen because he was a legacy, but because he possessed the qualities they were looking for. I also asked that he not share Andrew’s legacy status with the brothers, so that they would choose him based on his own merit. I let Andrew know that he needs to make sure any house he chooses was for the right reasons and it had to be a good fit for him. Thankfully the best house on the row chose one my son and my son chose them.”

 

In his first days as Consul, Andrew reflects back on his moment during initiation with his dad. “It was a pretty emotional experience for him as well.” And Andrew contemplates that, someday, perhaps his son could come to USC, be a Sig and make a third generation.

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NEW CONSUL: Andrew Blokdyk "treasures" his dad.

STEVEN BLOKDYK: "Every Sig dad's dream."

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ABOVE: The Blokdyk family. From left, Brother Steven, 1990 AU Consul; Andrew, 2021 AU Consul.

AND: Good times at Alpha Upsilon.