Alumni News | Vol. 3, Issue 4
In this newsletter, you will find articles from Fraternity Leadership and our partners, giving you updates, opportunities, and important information from the past two months. Thank you to our contributors for their hard work & insights. We also wanted to thank you, our Alumni! BetaCon 2022 was a huge success and we in the Executive Office loved meeting you all face-to-face. To submit questions or comments concerning Alumni News, or to learn more information regarding Sigma Lambda Beta's sponsorship program, please contact Savannah Buys, Communications Coordinator, here. You may also see the PDF version of this issue here.
A Note from our Chairman, Roberto Ceballos
As the end of summer and the beginning of the Fall 2022 school semester are fast approaching, I just wanted to reflect a bit on this past National Convention held in Reno Nevada.
As an undergrad, I could remember the excitement of the convention and the prospects of being able to attend the event and represent my Chapter as either a delegate or an At Large Brother. We only had around seven active Brothers in our Chapter at any given time but it was a serious competition on who would get to go as the delegate. I remember being chosen to represent the Chapter for the 1998 Convention which I believe was still being held in the Chicagoland region.
Going to convention was an event, to say the least. I got to meet my Brothers in person from across the SLB Nation and was able to start to build bonds that are still in place even today. Business was conducted during the day and socializing was done after the business was over until the early morning hours and then it was back to business once again. It was a great time and experience and I do have to say that I did look forward to socializing with the Gamma’s that were attending their convention happening at the same time.
Fast forward to this past convention, 20 plus years since 1998, and my excitement was tempered. As a member of the SLB EBOD, I was more in a business sense of mind and although I missed being around my Brothers, I just wanted the Convention to go on without any major issues occurring. I wanted the Brothers in attendance to enjoy the experience and to have a great time taking the message back to their Chapters that you do not want to miss convention, as an undergrad or alumni for that matter.
The first night’s ritual to honor our fallen Brothers was for me a very emotional night. What really opened my eyes was when Brothers had to line up from the oldest crossing date to the youngest Brother which had just crossed a month prior. I was number four in line. Mind you I crossed in 95, and after almost a decade of Brothers coming into this organization, only three older Brothers were in attendance for our National Convention. I mentioned this because as we get older as an organization our older Brothers become detached for whatever reason and I wish that was not the case.
Friday was a good day of business and after business was completed a bowling activity was set up for everyone to attend which was a great event. The Brothers and the women of SLG bowled and stepped to their favorite songs, and all I could see around the room were people smiling and having a great time. Saturday started and business opened. It was around this time that our Executive Director was informed that an incident had occurred the night before where a sister of SLG was sexually assaulted. Our worst fears had happened. The first part of the morning business was conducted and the second half of the day was spent addressing what had occurred. We were upfront and truthful with the delegation of Brothers on what we had known up to that point and allowed for Brothers to speak on the matter. Our Brothers, the Brothers of this organization, stepped up and made it known loud and clear that SLB men do not condone nor will ever condone this type of behavior. We are better than this and if we have members of this organization that participate in this type of behavior, they will no longer be a Brother of this organization.
Our Brothers, the Brothers of this organization, stepped up and made it known loud and clear that SLB men do not condone nor will ever condone this type of behavior.
Business was finally closed out in the late afternoon and at the end of convention a Gala was in place for both the Brothers of SLB and the women of SLG to celebrate with one another. Well, the incident that occurred completely changed the environment for everyone. The Brothers were still upset and the women of SLG did not want anything to do with us that evening. It was during this time that we were informed by the local authorities investigating the incident that occurred, that the assailants were not members of SLB but were individuals that were locals. Unfortunately, this information was not disseminated among both organizations to ease the tension that had been building up throughout the day and the night eventually ended. I still see people having a good time but the damage was done, but most importantly a sister of SLG was assaulted at convention.
I am deeply sorry to the sister of SLG that was assaulted. Even though it was not a member of SLB who assaulted her the fact is that incident occurred during our convention. I am proud of my Brothers who stood up and talked about their personal incidents and who stood firm on what is unacceptable behavior and what would never be tolerated. During our business sessions, I saw the leadership of my undergrad Brothers and in my estimation, our future is bright if these Brothers stay the course and continue to stick around. A new EBOD was elected along with a new Chairman so the business and Brotherhood of SLB will continue. I do look forward to our next convention and hopefully when we line up again from oldest to youngest that we have just as many Brothers behind me as we do ahead of me.
Note from the Chairman-Elect, Bro. Steve Galvan
Greetings Bros. of the most Honorable,
I hope this message finds you all in good health and spirits. Almost a month has passed since BetaCon 2022 in Reno, in which for the first time in four years, we were able to gather as a fratenity and enjoy each other's company and highlight the successes of individual brothers and entities. In the house of delegates, proposals and resolutions were discussed, and the elections for your next leadership were held. As Chairman-elect, serving the fraternity in this position will be an honor and privilege. Throughout my time in SLB leadership, I have gained valuable knowledge and experience that will help in working with the EBOD on short and long-term strategic plan goals in civic engagement, public relations, recruitment, academics, and retention. As a servant leader, I look forward to working with the board on these areas, along with whatever else may arise in this term. Continue to live the Creed brothers, and please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, comments, concerns, etc. LB!
From Xavier's Desk... "REFLECTIONS ON BETACON 2022"
Betacon 2022 in Reno/Sparks is now three weeks past. As I reflect on Betacon 2022, I find myself to be in such a complex array and range of emotions and thoughts. I cannot help but wonder if many of us are still reflecting on the powerful and intentional conversations
that were had by our collegiate membership in the House of Delegates, which may have articulated a new set of standards and expectations on matters related to sexual assault and abuse. While unable to sit for the entire meeting, I did pick up bits and pieces to a new Alumni Caucus engaging with candor, passion, and intent with approximately 25 alumni asking, “What is next for SLB Alumni, and how do we engage in a way that works for us?” I enjoyed witnessing new conversations between brothers engaging for the first time in many years. There was also an understanding that for many of our collegiate members, BetaCon 2022 was their first national fraternity experience. The bonding that took place among alumni and collegiate membership in what I am told was a truly beautiful Omega Ceremony was incredible. Time was even given to Founding Father Ricardo Zamudio to help collegiate men understand and learn how to do “the grip”!
If a word comes to mind reflecting Betacon 2022, it is "engagement." From conversations surrounding proposals and resolutions, EBOD elections, alumni opportunities and challenges, and an understanding that we continue to operate in what is a very unstable collegiate environment. Made all the more challenging by our National and global challenges. All of which became very real to all of us associated with Betacon 2022. From the current state of the COVID pandemic and university campuses still adjusting (as they will be for some time) to the "new normal." And as if this were not enough the new economic realities born out of national and international factors impacting travel costs and collegiate participation in an overt fashion. Despite the challenges the conversations flourished, our men engaged at all levels and all departed with newly found relationships at all levels...that will transcend the collegiate experience but for many will be those "life-long Beta relationships."
Betacon 2022 also engaged in the reality of what was a sexual assault late Friday evening. This in turn resulted in a special session of the House of Delegates being called to address this matter at hand on early Saturday afternoon. What was learned from working directly with the local police department throughout Saturday and with Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority leadership, specifically with their Executive Director, Christina Oey, was that no member of the Fraternity was involved in the sexual assault. Rather, police believe via video evidence from the hotel to be locals from the greater region.
This, however, did not stop assumptions and gossip that Beta men were involved. This in turn led to a significant number of alumni reaching out to the Sorority calling upon the termination of historical programming with us at SLB moving forward. The SLG alumni spoke in such volume that the SLG Board felt the need to move swiftly. (Allow me to also note that the SLG member who was assaulted was nothing short of heroic in her work with local law enforcement and the Sorority. The Sorority has understandably maintained her privacy and confidentiality which we respect fully.)
What made the SLG Board decision challenging is the reality, and in the words of the SLG Executive Director, Christina Oey, that "Sigma Lambda Beta went above and beyond in your partnership, actions, and handling of the matters that unfolded at Convention." While I agree with my colleague in full, it does not take away, nullify or dismiss the collective responses from Sigma Lambda Gamma membership to their Board and HQ Leadership given their historical frame of reference. Born of this incident was a level of conversation and heart-felt passion engaged by our collegiate membership during the House of Delegates that I have rarely witnessed - let alone heard - in my career. This is not a point I make lightly. I am simply unable to articulate how proud I am of our collegiate membership for their words, wisdom, personal experiences and reflections & standards that they have set for all of us moving forward. It was truly an honor to listen to our collegiate membership. I suspect that those of us who were present - alumni, volunteers, EBOD present & future, and collegiate members - all of us were moved, listened, and had a personal experience that each of us will internalize in very unique ways. And yet I, probably like others, was so full of sorrow that this conversation was being
had due to such a terrible and tragic incident.
I am simply unable to articulate how proud I am of our collegiate membership for their words, wisdom, personal experiences and reflections & standards that they have set for all of us moving forward.
As to the future. That is largely for us to discern. And coming out of Betacon 2022 I cannot help but wonder if taking time for us to focus internally - collegiate membership - alumni - volunteer leadership, EBOD...on where we are going, how we get there & ultimately how we collectively add value to each and every collegiate community where we exist & will exist and those alumni members contemplating the meaning of "life-long Sigma Lambda Beta engagement," as it means something different for each one. All this is to say, "never say never." We will continue to have strong relationships with Sigma Lambda Gamma Headquarters as so many of our chapters have incredible relationships with Gammas on their campuses. Our actions and reputation on campus will dictate this conversation down the road.
Finally, a special thank you to the EO Staff, EBOD & RDC leadership, the NUGGET Hotel team & all of you who ventured to Betacon 2022. Thank you all for contributing to a very special experience for all. Given the conversations that were had, I cannot help but believe our future is very bright indeed as we collectively evolve in this environment.
From the Education Foundation:
The Sigma Lambda Beta Education Foundation had a very active presence at this year’s BetaCon. Below is a recap of all that we did and announced while in Reno. Details for most of these items can be found at slbfoundation.sigmalambdabeta.com.
BetaCon Sponsor: The SLBEF is proud to have provided a $4500 grant to help offset the cost of the BetaCon event. This was made possible by those who contributed to our 2022 Founder’s Month Challenge.
SLBEF MasterClass: Members of our Board of Trustees held a session as a part of the education track to educate our brothers on all that the SLBEF has to offer. If brothers would like us to present at an upcoming event – please send an email to email@example.com.
Entity Specific Fund Program revamp: The SLBEF provides every SLB entity the ability to essentially create their own non-profit by using our existing tax status and technology. We have revamped our program and approach, and are looking for more entities to be a part of this program. To learn more you can go to our website and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New & Improved Grant Application process: Just in time for the fall semester, the SLBEF has created a new and online way to submit a grant to help offset the cost of an entity's fall programming. The new Google Form is easy to use and makes the process much smoother. You can learn more at the website and/or email email@example.com.
OfW Recipients Named: This year we increased the number of recipients from two to four, and total scholarship dollars from $2,000 to $4,000. At BetaCon we were able to hand a check to one brother and announce the other 3 recipients. See more details about them and watch their thank you videos on our website.
Board of Trustee changes: At-large SLBEF board positions have a three-year term, and at BetaCon we announced the end of the term for two board members as well as the selection of two new board members. We also announced a few new committee members. All announcements can be seen on our website.
Supporting a Brother supporting the SLBEF: Brother Randy Motilall wrote a book and has agreed to donate a portion of his proceeds to the SLBEF between now and the end of the year. You can read more about Randy, the book, and how to purchase one, on our website.
SLBEF Hosts Alumni Reception: Before the BetaCon banquet, the SLBEF hosted a small fundraising reception. We are thankful for all of the brothers that attended and especially thankful for those that helped us raise more than $5k!
SLBEF BetaCon raffle: Last, but not least, just prior to BetaCon we opened a raffle to provide an entity with a $500 grant. Raffle entries were submitted by having brothers go to slbfoundation.com and either create a new or update an existing profile. Close to 400 brothers participated! And at the House of Delegates, we held the raffle – where The University of Oklahoma was randomly selected as the recipient.
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Four Questions with Bro. Ammar Mufleh
We asked Bro. Ammar Mufleh (right) four questions, relying on his experience as an engaged Alum in order to share his experiences and gain insight for his fellow Alums. Bro. Ammar Mufleh is also the founder of the Ammar B. Mufleh Foundation, which is in partnership with the Executive Office, creating the Books 4 Betas program.
Why is the formation of a structured Fraternity Alumni Caucus important to the Fraternity and the Fraternity alumni?
Sigma Lambda Beta's initial and continued focus is based on providing support infrastructure for undergraduate men in our chapters around the United States. The growth of our brotherhood and the necessity of creating a viable track that adds value for alumni remains a challenge. I completed my undergraduate education and became an active alumnus in 1997 and witnessed a myriad of efforts to address the alumni question. I continue to support the effort to create viable structures and programs to help engage and enhance the alumni community. In a perfect world, each of our alumni around the globe would remain enthusiastic active members. The reality is that we have several thousand alumni disengaged or interacting primarily with their line/chapter brothers. I am supportive of the FAC taking the lead in working to create a vast net and environment that captures the imagination of our nascent alumni base. I remain encouraged by FAC and the inclusion of Savannah and Brother Joel at our Executive Office in the collective effort toward recharging our alumni base.
The conversation at the Alumni Caucus gathering at Betacon 2022 appeared to be robust and very engaged. What was your takeaway?
Initially, I was not impressed or happy with the alumni track/programming at BetaCon. It was lacking in substantive programs. To attract alumni to national events, it remains critical that SLB EBOD/FAC/EO creates opportunities that "add value" to our alumni. The conversation was honest and engaging. The most heartening moment for me was the critical engagement around creating programs that add growth opportunities and allow alumni to share their expertise. After receiving and listening to criticism, the EBOD members and moderator, Brother Smolka, took on the challenge and went to a hard pivot into meaningful programs based on the needs of alumni in the room. We proceeded to discuss in an informal panel important areas including financial planning/managing, leveraging credit, career development, and transitioning into graduate programs. It was a fruitful afternoon that illustrated the power of honest and open discussions, active listening, and the willingness of our leaders to correct course and engage in meaningful programs. I remain encouraged and hopeful after interacting with fellow alumni at the caucus gathering in Reno.
As an individual who has been involved in numerous leadership roles within the Fraternity, what do you believe is the role of SLB Fraternity alumni in the here & now & moving forward?
I am a student of history and find it important to reflect on our past to better understand the historical trajectory that led us to this moment. While we remain a majority undergraduate member organization, we rely on alumni to lead our brotherhood. I had the pleasure of volunteering as the East RD in the mid-1990s coupled with stepping into the role of transitional RD for the South East and Central respectively during my tenure on the EBOD. It proved difficult to recruit alumni in the late 1990s & early 2000s to take on these demanding roles. Our brotherhood was 10-15 years in existence, and many of our young alumni were in the process of forging ahead in their respective careers and starting families. I have witnessed a small pool of alumni carrying the SLB torch for decades. Today we have 3-plus decades and thousands of alumni at varying stages in their respective fields and life cycles. I find it critical that we engage and encourage alumni participation at all levels! The entry point or threshold for receiving "active alumni status" should be nominal at best. Here is an example: If you mentor an undergrad or fellow alumni and donate to your local chapter, that should constitute active alumnus status. Our goal should be to remove obstacles to reconnect alumni to SLB. Alumni are critical to the growth and prosperity of SLB, and we have thousands on the sideline that can leverage their resources to help the good work along. Fraternal intake at universities/colleges in the
US is experiencing a sharp decline since Covid-19 devastated our country and campuses. The long-term forecast demands that we look inward toward alumni to help share the burden and actualize our collective potential.
There are several opportunities for engagement for SLB alumni. What would you recommend to a young alumnus who is a recent graduate (12-24 months out) regarding becoming involved with SLB?
I would recommend the brother has at least 1-2 mentors (a brother/alumnus & professional in his field). More importantly, the brother needs to transition beyond the undergraduate chapter experience and look to join professional associations/networks, SLB, and non-SLB, allowing for a clear demarcation in life experiences. It is important to take time to settle into one's career path before taking on significant roles within SLB to avoid SLB burnout as a young alumnus. Find opportunities to grow and help with alumni associations/networks and ease into leadership roles.
Alumni in Sigma Lambda Beta...by Joel Rhea
We are Brothers for life! This is a phrase we often hear in Sigma Lambda Beta. However, what does that mean for our continued growth and future existence? When we become Brothers, we spend on average 4 years on our collegiate campus, then the rest of our lives as Alumni members. Though if you look at our organizational financing, our undergraduate membership has been at least 60% and as high as 90% of our total income over the years. How is this possible if we are Brothers for life? There are more Alumni than Undergrads. So where have our Alumni gone after they graduate? As undergraduate men, we are required to pay our semester dues to be considered active. Once we graduate it is at our discretion as to what or if we give or are active at all. How can this be if we are
Brothers for life? Sigma Lambda Beta has never had a policy in our Constitution requiring alumni members to continue to contribute to the organization. Though there have been a few attempts in recent years at BetaCon. We now have two years to develop resolutions. We can make sure Alumni Networks and Alumni Associations are better structured. Develop a plan for an Alumni Dues system that can truly help our Executive Office to provide services and staff to our ever-growing alumni population.
Don’t get me wrong many Brothers do give back in a variety of ways: from donating to the Sigma Lambda Beta Education Foundation, the 86 Club, to their Alumni Networks or Associations, sponsoring events, and directly giving back to their Chapter. Unfortunately. we seem to continue to ask the same brothers for contributions. While asking for sponsors for recent events, I was told no because there doesn’t seem to be a return on my investment.
So, we discussed more about how this could change. It was an impactful conversation. This conversation brought on the Beta Realtor Challenge. This is where if a Brother or a client mentions SLB the participating realtor will donate 5% of their total commission to the fraternity. Currently, we have 19 realtors and 4 lenders who are participating. Here is the link to those Beta Realtors whom we can support, and who are also supporting SLB. If you are a Beta Realtor or Lender and would like to participate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, once we as Brothers sit down and have conversations and share ideas, we can develop some amazing ideas to better the fraternity. We need all Alumni and Undergraduate Brothers to be a part of these discussions. At BetaCon 22 we had 25 alumni members working as a think tank discussing what we felt was important for us as alumni and for the growth of SLB
It was amazing! We didn’t sit around like we were in a Chapter meeting talking about how we were going to fundraise and recruit more members. We were developing our members and using the expertise in the room. We have so many talented Brothers in so many fields. This is where we need to begin: from within!
...our undergraduate membership has been at least 60% and as high as 90% of our total income over the years.
I ask that every Brother who reads this article, make sure all your information is correct on the Stallion Network. Much of the information we have was transferred from the old Brother Network and is ancient. So please log on and update your information. (Provide an email that you want to receive messages from SLB) Here is the Stallion Network login page. Now, here is the most important part, DON’T STOP WITH YOU! If you have five Brothers you are in contact with, make them log in to the Stallion Network. Have them do the same thing. If we do this over and over, we will have a more accurate account of our brotherhood. Currently, we have over 5100 alumni on the Stallion Network. I believe we have well over 10,000 alumni if not more. Let's get out there and be our Brother’s Keeper. Thank you for all that you do for Sigma Lambda Beta. LB86!
Omega Fund Update from Jason Smolka
During BetaCon 2022, members of the Ritual and Education Committee presented the Omega Ritual in front of all brothers present for the event. It was a truly moving ceremony in which
our brothers who have passed in recent years were remembered for the night. We celebrated both those who were known well and those who were not, those who had a chance to live into middle age and those taken in just their teens.
One of the themes that emerged from the words shared by the brothers that night was that many of us may never know the true impact we have on others. The small acts of kindness that we show to a new student or the extra ride we provide to someone who needs it, maybe the couch we let someone crash on. There were numerous examples provided of how these small mundane events were a catalyst for someone else’s life.
We also saw the theme emerge of our own personal health versus the machismo/headstrong attitude that men are stereotyped as. That social construct that makes men tell ourselves, “it’s not a big deal, I don’t need to see the doctor,” until it’s too late. The true sadness that was felt by losing a brother too soon, one that maybe could have had more time was felt by all. I’m lucky enough that my own line brother regularly reminds me to get my doctor visits in, and while I don’t follow his guidance every time his pushing still has me go more regularly than I would without it.
Be your own caretaker as much as we care for our brothers.
Take the time for your own physical and mental health check-ups and if you haven't scheduled one in the last 9 months, schedule one before August ends.
This upcoming Fall semester, the Omega Fund will be returning to Regional Meetings to continue to educate the members on who we are and what we do. For those seeking more information on how they can help support the Omega Fund so we can be more proactive for the families of brothers who pass instead of reactive, please visit our website at https://www.slbomegafund.com/how-it-works. Take care of yourselves and each other brothers.
Alumni Caucus Update, Jason Smolka
This year members of the Alumni Caucus, Executive Board of Directors, Regional Directors, Education Foundation, and At-Large Alumni members met the Thursday before BetaCon started in an effort to rekindle Alumni engagement that had dwindled some during the COVID period. The day kicked off with an update from the Executive Office discussing the “Books for Betas” initiative that was recently launched and has successfully been impacting the lives of our brothers across the purple nation. We are hoping to see additional initiatives that can have a direct impact on brothers and be spearheaded by small groups of Alumni in conjunction with the Executive Office in the future.
From there the day was split between the logistical conversation of supporting the brotherhood and the need to support the brothers present. When it comes to supporting the brotherhood there were multiple examples provided of the ways in which Alumni Networks have historically provided an outlet and method of engagement for the brothers. The chairmen of the represented Alumni Networks were able to discuss the different ways in which our alumni engage; be it their Time, Talent, Treasure, or some combination of the three. The Education Foundation also provided success stories on how Alumni Associations can create and use Entity Specific Funds (ESF). These ESFs allow Alumni to direct how the money they donate to the Education Foundation is spent; how much better to have a fund established than have your undergraduates reach out randomly to ask for money?
When it comes to supporting the brothers, we were able to provide value in real-time for the members in attendance; discussing topics such as personal finance, graduate school
pursuits, career changes, and even personal obstacles in life. The framework we employed for the session, in which our present members were able to pull from their own experience and knowledge to provide advice, guidance, and support to other members, is a framework that we will look to employ for future events. The organic roundtable discussion lends itself better to leveraging the collective knowledge of our membership than the traditional lecture-style talks.
One of the largest pushes coming out of the day was an understanding of the need to reposition what was once known as Convention, which has since become known as BetaCon into more of a true Convention of Betas that is open to all alumni. The focus has grown from just the House of Delegates meeting to include a Leadership Track focused on undergraduate members, but we have yet to bring a focus on activities, social or professional, for alumni. The goal for the 2024 BetaCon will be to have that focus and value for alumni members. An increase in Alumni participation in BetaCon 2024 can help to offset costs for undergraduate members and provide networking opportunities for all brothers involved.
On that note about the focus leading into BetaCon 2024, with me being elected to the EBOD, I will be relinquishing my position as Chairman of the Alumni Caucus. Hosting the Alumni Track during the virtual Leadership Summit and bringing the Alumni Day to BetaCon will be the highlights of my tenure. We are now looking for the next brother who would like to take on the role and continue to push the Alumni movement forward. If that is an interest of yours, please reach out to brother Steve Galvan HERE.
The Newly Elected Executive Board of Directors
Bro. Steve Galvan (Chairman)
Bro. Mauricio M. Amaral-Vazquez
Bro. Jason Smolka
Bro. Brian Castro
Bro. Jose Pangelinan
Bro. Victor Diaz
Bro. Christopher Cooley