Days after disaffiliating from the University, Alpha Upsilon recruits 35 men for one of the largest pledge classes ever
It was arguably one of the most important and trying rush weeks in Alpha Upsilon history. And the undergraduate brothers knocked it out of the ballpark pledging 45 fine young men, one of the largest pledge classes in chapter history.
All eyes were on the rush results, in part, because this is the first rush under a new system independent of the University. As many of you have read, Sigma Chi and several other fraternity chapters recently declared their independence or “disaffiliation” from the University’s Interfraternity Council to form the University Park Interfraternity Council.
So, it was quite reassuring to see very large numbers of potential new members going through this new independent rush.
“We are so excited to get one of our largest pledge classes ever,” said Rush Chairman Ben Duncan. “I’m super happy we got a nice mix” of ages among the potential new members. “Rush couldn’t have gone any better.”
Consul Grant Jessup Glessing reports the chapter now has around 110 active members in addition to the new class of 45.
That cherished kind of photo shows the newly minted pledges in coats holding their Norman Shields, the kind of image that brings a smile to any AU alum.
SUMMER COMES TO AN END ON 28th STREET
By Grant Jessup Glessing
There’ve been a lot of summer highlights we have been working with passionate alumni, which shows how important involved alumni are in having a successful chapter. I also have enjoyed planning social events and brotherhood events for Fall with brothers in the house.
The guys are also talking about brother Blake Jackson, who is a goalkeeper on the USC water polo team. The team went to Croatia and Spain to train this summer. It seemed like a great opportunity to learn about the culture and prepare for the season. He is hoping to be the starting goalkeeper in the Fall. We’re all pulling for Blake.
Alumni brothers should know that the undergrads at Alpha Upsilon are all in great spirits and plan on building on the success from the past year to make this year run smoothly.
2022-23 Consul Grant Glessing
We’re all excited to get the year started with our new Sweetheart Rachel Grode who is a Kappa and the Captain of the Cheerleading team.
Our chapter is being represented this August at Sigma Chi’s Krach Transformational Leadership Workshop (what everyone used to call “workshop”) by Jack Brace and Pro Consul Tyler Antrobious. As Consul, I was honored to be invited to the week-long Horizons Leadership Summit in Utah earlier this summer. KTLW and Horizons are just two of Sigma Chi’s leadership training initiatives that have become incredibly advanced these days.
We were successful in raising $20,000 this year for Sigma Chi’s Huntsman Cancer Institute and we plan on getting to 50,000 this year. Our philanthropy chair just got back from Salt Lake City visiting the Cancer Institute and has some great ideas to make this year the best year ever.
It’s been an incredible summer and we’re looking forward to a fantastic Fall semester.
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.
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
RUSH CHAIRMAN: Shane Premer. If you have a rush recommendation, you can reach Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the Alpha Upsilon Chapter Advisor Jeffrey Schwartz, here.
Meet other chapter officers, here.
The Consul and the Pandemic
Just one more example of Sigma Chi
honoring our AU undergraduate brothers
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.
When 66 receive
the White Cross
- at one time
During one ceremony, 66 men were initiated into Sigma Chi on October 10th, 2021 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."
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.
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.
NEW CONSUL: Andrew Blokdyk "treasures" his dad.
STEVEN BLOKDYK: "Every Sig dad's dream."
ABOVE: The Blokdyk family. From left, Brother Steven, 1990 AU Consul; Andrew, 2021 AU Consul.
AND: Good times at Alpha Upsilon.