Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love are the three Cardinal Principles of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Other fraternities also have their own sets of values, which commonly which commonly include ‘brotherhood’ among the list. While Brotherhood and Brotherly Love might seem similar, there is a distinct difference between the two. Brotherhood looks inward and focuses only on supporting your brothers within your fraternity, while Brotherly Love consists of much of the same ideas; it also focuses outward. Brotherly Love is about sharing the love and care towards one another that we feel inside our organization. One aspect of outward expressing Brotherly Love is the idea of community service and enabling others to act on the principles that we hold dear within SigEp.The Iowa Theta chapter of SigEp at UNI takes this idea of spreading Brotherly Love and the lessons we have learned through our fraternity experience into action. Our chapter does this is through the bi-annual events that it hosts at the local schools in Cedar Falls, Holmes and Peet Junior High Schools. This event is best described by one of the founders of the event and the Counselor of both schools, Angela Wittmer;
Holmes Junior High in partnership with SigEp presented the 5th annual Young Men’s Leadership Event on Friday, November 1. This annual event takes place with all 8th-grade boys and focuses on topics such as finding positive role models, consent, masculinity/gender, integrity, and goal setting. SigEp has been an integral part of the development and execution of this event. Various SigEp members serve as small group leaders, large group facilitators, and also share personal stories. This event is now presented at both Homes Junior High and Peet Junior High. The amazing commitment to serving by SigEp has truly kept this event moving forward and continuing.”
The event focuses on the ideas of healthy male leadership and Mentors in Violence Prevention that are at the core of the SigEp experience at UNI. All members of SigEp at UNI are required to go through the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) “Train the Trainer” training, where they learn how to facilitate activities to get people to discuss sexual violence and what it means to be an active bystander. The members, along with Angela, have identified how important these ideas are in modern times as many young men fall into the trap and follow the many unhealthy role models that are on display.
A significant part of this program is also to educate young men on the issues of sexual misconduct and sexual violence so that they can be the difference as they grow up. Men perpetrate an overwhelming majority of sexual violence. Through this event, we hope to get to the root of the issue and break down the ideals of toxic masculinity that both encourage and ignore sexual violence in our society. The students are taught to be active bystanders through MVP activities. These activities prepare them to break down the stereotypes of what society says it means to “be a man” and be a force for change in their school and their community.
This event is also very meaningful for the members involved. Will Heaton, a Sophomore new member, shared a story from his time in middle school in front of the group of middle schoolers at the event and had this to say about the event’s impact;
Coming in I was very worried about how the event would go, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had even seen a middle schooler let alone interacted with one. But it turned out that these young men blew me away with how mature and good-natured they were. I felt like I could make a connection with them and help to shape their perspective of consent and what it means to be a man. Not only that but me telling my story to these kids also helped me cope with my middle school experience and I desperately hope that someone in that room took to heart my message of self-acceptance and love. At the end of the day, I’m just glad SigEp allowed me to positively impact the lives of these young men, and I wish the young men nothing but brotherly love.”
Jacob Levang, a senior who has never missed one of these events, has this to say about the impact that the event has had and how he has seen it grow;
Getting the opportunity to work with young men in the local community has been extremely rewarding. Being apart of this program since day one and seeing how far it has come in my 4 years is truly amazing. Year after year it gets better and I can’t wait to see how much it grows and continues to make an impact in the years to come”
Jacob’s long term engagement with this event is telling to the impact that it has and how important this event is to the members of SigEp at UNI.
Overall, the Holmes/Peet Leadership Event is a very impactful event for all involved and is a great example of SigEp acting on its value of Brotherly Love in the community and modeling the way for healthy male leadership for young men who need it most.
Meet the Author
Hugh Zehr ’21
Economics major and Music minor