The following blog post is a guest post by Phi Sigma Pi Member and 2015 National Convention attendee Heather Buchanan (Delta Beta Chapter ’16).
I joined the Delta Beta Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi in spring of 2013 as a freshman at the University of Alabama, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made as an undergrad. My Chapter has given me so much to be thankful for—a group of academically-minded peers, professional growth and development and ample leadership opportunities. As an Initiate I served as Secretary for my Initiate Class as well as a member of the Initiate Service Committee. Last year I was the Chapter Secretary and this year I will serve as Vice President.
Before this year, Phi Sigma Pi had been a very local concept in my mind. We held weekly meetings and other events throughout the semester. I paid dues and participated in Committees and eventually became an Officer on the Executive Board. I knew from my role as Secretary that we did have a National Staff and I knew there were other Chapters across the country, but the Brotherhood on a National scale seemed very far away to me. I existed in my own local Chapter bubble until the spring and summer of 2015.
This past spring my Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi hosted our Regional Conference. The South Region includes my Chapter and Chapters at Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Tulane and UA-Birmingham. This conference, referred to as SoCo, was the first time I had attended a PSP event with Members from outside my Chapter. We played games, made blankets for a children’s hospital and talked at roundtables about our respective Chapters. Slowly, my idea of Phi Sigma Pi was beginning to grow.
Fast-forward to this summer’s National Convention. Each summer Phi Sigma Pi holds a Grand Chapter Meeting with a minimum of 1 Delegate from each Chapter, both collegiate and Alumni. The National Council presents reports from the previous year’s activities and the Grand Chapter Delegates consider proposed constitutional amendments. The 2015 Grand Chapter was held in Washington, D.C., which immediately intrigued me. I decided, somewhat on a whim, to attend as the Delta Beta Chapter’s Alternate.
I didn’t know what to expect at Grand Chapter aside from parliamentary procedure. I’m currently having trouble putting into words what Grand Chapter was like—bear with me while I work it out.
First, I was inspired by the leaders in my Fraternity. During Grand Chapter I was in a room with a couple hundred Members who were able to have civilized and respectful debate on topics that were uncomfortable for some. I was also amazed at the amount of pride the Members present have for their Chapter and Fraternity. It was incredible to see so many different people from all over the country all joined together by one common bond—Brotherhood. This feeling reached its peak at the end of the Awards Banquet at the end of the weekend. After the banquet it is tradition to link arms in a huge circle and sing the fraternal songs. I’d heard the songs before, but singing them with hundreds of your Brothers is an entirely different experience. For the first time I realized the support system I found in my local Chapter extends through Members across the United States. This spring I will graduate from The University of Alabama, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared. My plans aren’t concrete and I’m not sure where I’ll be a year from now. Knowing I have Brothers almost anywhere in the country makes graduating and possibly moving away much more doable and much less overwhelming. Even better, I have a whole group of Alumni Brothers who have already paved the path through graduation onto the adult world.
If you are a Member who has never been to a National Convention, I urge you to consider attending next year’s event. It’s a fully immersive Brotherhood experience I wish I’d had sooner. Next year will be even more special because it’s the Centennial of our Fraternity’s founding.
**The 2016 National Convention will take place from July 27-31, 2016 in Kansas City, MO. Get all of the Phi Sigma Pi Centennial plans at phisigmapi.org/100.