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.
Here is how the Balanced Man Program accomplishes those ideals:
The program is built on five philosophical tenets:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The SigEp Headquarters web site has more information about the Balanced Man Program and about Sigma Phi Epsilon in general.