The ceremonies and words contained in the Ritual forge a common bond that links all Sigma Chis together. Every brother observes the same scenes, hears the same words and lives the same experience. If performed correctly, our ceremonies of Initiation give the Fraternity continuity and structure, and foster pride among our brotherhood.
Ensuring that every initiate at each of our 243 undergraduate chapters has the same experience is no easy task, especially when 22 different historical editions of the Ritual have been used at some point in the Fraternity's history.
After thoughtful discussion with undergraduates and alumni, the Ritual Renaissance & Revitalization Committee has developed a Ritual certification process for all undergraduate chapters. This process will help ensure that a brother initiated in California has the same experience as one initiated in Virginia.
The undergraduate chapter certification process will be rolled out in three phases:
- Phase 1 - Spring 2014: If a chapter earns a satisfactory certification, two bonus points will be applied to its Annual Report and Peterson Significant Chapter Award application score.
- Phase 2 - Spring 2015: A Ritual certification section will be included on the Annual Report and Peterson Award application. Chapters will be expected to obtain a satisfactory certification, but will not be penalized for not doing so.
- Phase 3 - Spring 2016: To be eligible for a Peterson Significant Chapter Award, a chapter must receive a 90 percent or higher on its annual report and obtain a satisfactory Ritual certification.
In all three phases, a satisfactory Ritual certification is given to a chapter that receives a 75 percent or higher during the Ritual evaluation process.
The Ritual Renaissance & Revitalization Committee understands that undergraduate chapters cannot be expected to undertake this process alone. Alumni involvement and support is imperative. As a result, this committee is training and certifying interested alumni as Ritual peers and masters. Undergraduate members are also invited to become certified through the program.
Ritual Peers and Masters will evaluate chapters on their Ritual performance, knowledge and application. Here is a brief overview of the criteria they will use:
- Performance - 35 percent
- Chapter Meeting Ritual - Is the chapter using the correct setup? Are speaking roles memorized? Is the prescribed agenda followed?
- Initiation Ritual - Is the chapter using the 2012 edition of the Ritual and Ritualistic Statutes? Is the setup correct? Are the speaking roles memorized? What is the attendance? Are the props present and correctly utilized? Were alumni invited?
- Impact - Is there appropriate lighting? Was the Ritual music used? Did brothers with speaking roles deliver their parts with ease?
- Condition of regalia - Does the chapter have a complete regalia set? What is the condition of the set? Is it stored properly?
- Rehearsal and preparation - Was there adequate preparation using rehearsal meetings?
- Knowledge - 25 percent
- History - Is the chapter educated on the history of the Ritual?
- Symbology - What do certain colors signify? How are the badge and seal used? What is the importance of the Ceremonies of Initiation?
- Interpretation - Is there a prohibition on alcohol use? Does the chapter play loud music or organize non-standard activities?
- Application - 40 percent
- Ritual-based decision making & leadership - Does the chapter utilize a judicial board? Are sound decisions made during recruitment? Are brothers held accountable for their actions? Is the chapter focused on academics? What value does the chapter place on service to others?
- Empathy - What is the quality of a G.O.? Are brothers attending chapter meetings and events? What is the quality of the literary exercises used during meeting? Is the chapter engaged with the International Fraternity as well as other chapters?
To ensure a satisfactory certification, a chapter should use its own Ritual committee to evaluate how well it performs, understands and applies the Ritual. If the chapter does not have such a committee, now may be a good time to appoint or elect brothers to one. Suggested resources to help a chapter become certified are the Ritual and Ritualistic Statutes, the Post-Initiation Training (PIT) manual, the chapter's responses on the Ritual section of its Annual Report and Peterson Significant Chapter Award application completed last spring, as well as their chapter advisor and Grand Praetor.
Bob Jones, RENSSELAER 1973
Chairman, Ritual Renaissance & Revitalization Committee
65th Grand Consul
David Ashinoff, WILLIAM & MARY 2003
Chairman, Communications Subcommittee - Ritual Renaissance & Revitalization Committee
Grand Praetor, Eastern Virginia Province