Sigma Phi Epsilon - University of Tennessee
TN Alpha Chapter
Sig Ep - UTK
TN Alpha

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Balanced Man Program?

Ninety percent of college takes place outside of the classroom. It’s in this part of the college experience — the unplanned, unstructured hours — that students discover their passions and plan their futures. For our brothers, much of this time is spent with their chapters — it’s where they build close bonds of friendship and learn how to communicate and work with others, to lead, and to speak in front of a crowd. Our brothers accomplish all of this through the Balanced Man Program (BMP).

The Balanced Man Program is the centerpiece of the SigEp chapter experience and provides the experience that today’s student needs to be successful during and after college. The Balanced Man Program is a non-pledging, non-hazing, four-year, personal, academic, leadership, and professional skills development experience. 

Through a series of four challenges, brothers become progressively more prepared to transition out of college at one of the most transformative times in their lives.

  • The Sigma Challenge focuses on understanding the Fraternity’s history, principles and values.
  • In the Phi Challenge, men focus on understanding themselves, their choices and ways to achieve balance.
  • The Epsilon Challenge focuses on leadership and community involvement.
  • And the Brother Mentor Challenge entrusts brothers with guiding new brothers, prepares them for their transition out of college and examines how their SigEp experience can continue to help them be successful.

Here is how the Balanced Man Program accomplishes those ideals:

What is the basis of the Balanced Man Program?

The program is built on five philosophical tenets:

  • Equal rights and responsibilities
    • An element of the BMP is to uphold the tradition of SigEp’s Founders to give a member full rights the day he joins, so he becomes a full contributor with equal responsibility.
  • Continuous development
    • For each year of college, a brother is challenged to develop himself personally, academically and professionally both in and out of the classroom.
  • Accountability
    • Brothers who hold each other accountable for reaching goals, upholding standards, and behaving in alignment with their values will achieve more and give more to others. 
  • Living the Ritual
    • The Ritual experience is more than a ceremony; it is a daily practical application of each brother’s commitment to the values of the Fraternity.
  • Mentoring
    • Mentoring is one way both undergraduates and volunteers enable the development of their brothers and themselves, deepening the chapter experience. 

Why should new members be treated equally?

Our Founders were all equal when they were new members. Members need to prove their worthiness through the recruitment process. This is the way it works in most organizations and jobs. When applying for a new job, you submit a resume, attend an interview and prove your worthiness. Furthermore, if you hold your new members to different standards than your older members you are sending this message: “you only have to do these things for this period of time and then you are free.” You will see the consequences of that message when older members are not contributing to the chapter. 

The Balanced Man Program gives brothers their membership. Isn’t pledging more challenging?

When the Balanced Man Program is run right, it is a more challenging experience than pledging. While brothers have the right to membership the day they join, it comes with many responsibilities. Brothers must be engaged their entire time in the chapter, not just the first semester. If brothers do not meet their expectations in each challenge, their membership is lapsed. Furthermore, the Balanced Man Program challenges brothers to provide the best experience on campus, regardless of what the rest of the campus is doing. This takes the self-confidence to not care what other fraternities are saying about you. Finally, the Balanced Man Program requires chapters to be organized and dedicated to living SigEp’s values. Whether you are on the development committee, the standards board or are a challenge participant, the lessons you learn can be applied to your career after college.

Why provide continuous development past the first semester?

What if the football coach only coached his players for the first semester they were on the team? After a semester of workouts, practices, film sessions and team meetings, he said, “ok, you’re done: all you have to do is show up for games for the next seven semesters.” Would you consider him a good coach? Of course not. Good coaches help players grow from the time of their first practice to the last play of their final game. To be a great chapter, we must take the same approach. The lessons our members learn the first day of freshmen year are just as important as the lessons they learn before graduation.

No one else on campus operates like this. Why should we?

If your campus had 18 McDonalds within two square miles, would you open another McDonalds? No, you are better off building a Subway to make yourself more attractive. Offering something different than your peers allows you to attract the best students, leaders and athletes. Furthermore, Sigma Phi Epsilon is successful because SigEp is different. The five tenets outlined above will run counter to the prevailing attitudes among other fraternities on campus. Chapters and their members must have the confidence to be different than their peers.

Does the Balanced Man Program take away the “tradition” of the Fraternity?

The Balanced Man Program is the true traditional experience. Our Founders did not establish the Fraternity with two-tiered membership. Pledging, as it is known today, came to be after World War II. The earliest known edition of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Bylaws considered members as brothers from the moment they accepted an invitation to join. With this said, the Balanced Man Program brings us closer to the traditions and intentions of our Founders.

Can we have local traditions in the Balanced Man Program?

Local traditions must align with the philosophy of the Balanced Man Program and promote a safe and positive experience for members. Remember tradition for the sake of tradition is not healthy. Look at your local traditions and ask “why do we do this?” If the answer is, “because we have always done it that way” then you should reconsider doing it. Good traditions have a meaningful purpose that aligns with the philosophy of this program.

Where Can I learn more about the Balanced Man Program?

The SigEp Headquarters web site has more information about the Balanced Man Program and about Sigma Phi Epsilon in general.