170th Convention Recap

Theta Delts converged on Philadelphia the second week of August for the fifth Convention that has been hosted in the city and 170th of the organization!

This was the second year the CFO put together a condensed Convention schedule, with the first events starting on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Hopefully this shortened schedule helps our members fit this annual event into their busy summer happenings.

There was no shortage of events or things to do in Philadelphia. The Convention kicked off early with a Minerva Session for all undergraduate delegates. That night, full registrants and delegates headed to Citizens Bank Park to watch the Mets take on the Phillies.

Minerva Sessions

Our undergrads participated in five Minerva Sessions throughout the weekend. These workshops are the required undergraduate programming that occurs at Convention. Workshop themes are selected by the Grand Lodge, but the programs themselves are made possible by a grant from the Educational Foundation.

Traditionally, Minerva Sessions have been a combination of educational programming and historic tours of the host city. Friday afternoon delegates and Convention attendees toured Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Saturday consisted of three Minerva programs. The programs were put on by: our philanthropy partner Autism Speaks, our insurance broker Holmes Murphy, and Men’s Warehouse. David Berenbaum from Autism Speaks discussed leveraging your network and setting strategic goals to influence and excel in philanthropic pursuits. Bobbi Larsen from Holmes Murphy presented to both undergraduates and alumni on liability, managing risk, and specific aspects of our liability coverage. Josh from Men’s Wearhouse gave a presentation titled “Dress for Success,” which gave sartorial advice as well as resume help. Thursday’s Minerva Session was an inhouse presentation titled “Let Us Be Judged by Our Acts: Values, Valor, and Vision for Theta Delts” which focused on how our core values need to translate into action on our college campuses.

The First General Business Session has often been a light one, as all elections and legislation occur at the Second General Business Session. The Friday Business Session featured a keynote speaker, Sarah Beaulieu. She gave guests an opportunity to have some of the necessary uncomfortable conversations on the topic of sexual assault, sexual violence, and their impact.

The New Grand Lodge

The 141st Grand Lodge has added three new members to its ranks. Five positions were up for election. Secretary of the Grand Lodge Stephan Johnson, Gamma Triton ‘93 and President of the Grand Lodge Jason Dietz, Sigma Triton ‘01 both reran for their positions and have extended their terms for two years until the 172nd Convention in 2019.

Executive Member Adam Marks, Nu Deuteron ‘99 and Treasurer Quincy Gottwig, Sigma Deuteron ‘15 still have one year left on their terms which will expire at the 171st Convention in 2018. The new faces added to the Grand Lodge were Executive Member Ian Karls, Sigma Deuteron ‘17, Undergraduate Member at Large Alec Dodds, Beta Deuteron ‘18, and Undergraduate Member at Large Julian Weller, Mu Triton ‘19.

Business Sessions

This was the first time in quite some time that all active Charges were represented in some capacity during the Business Sessions! This level of commitment to the shared governance of our Fraternity is truly exemplary. From here on out, we can only strive to reach full participation from all our Charges – active and dormant alike.

This year saw the introduction of significant legislative changes and proposals. Discussion quickly became heated. It was exciting to see Brothers engaged in debate. Some comments were applauded; others were booed. But at the end of the day, all recognized the value of having a say.

The SCL (Standing Committee on Legislation) produced four pieces of legislation on behalf of the Grand Lodge. The first was to increase the annual service fee from $100 to $120. The fee increase assists with expansion efforts, including the eventual addition of a new staff position. Moreover, it would help offset expenses associated with programming, development, and Charge Consultant travel. In effect, any effort that supports our Charges.

The SCL’s second proposal was to enable the Grand Lodge to increase said service fee, by a reasonable amount (up to 5%), every three years without the passage of legislation introduced on the Convention floor. The need for such legislation stems from a desire to have a more efficient avenue of increasing service fees to offset the Grand Lodge’s operational deficit, stabilize the budget, and focus on expansion. Some believe that bringing increases to the Convention floor involves too much debate and time (inherent in the ratification process), and leaves the Fraternity in a position of uncertainty. Others argued that undergraduates need to have a more explicit voice in the adoption of fee increases, and that the only real forum to express opposition and concern regarding subsequent increases was the Convention floor.

The third proposal was to replace the use of pledge, pledging, and pledgeship with new member, new member education, or other appropriate language. The SCL felt that this step was proactive, and would help our Fraternity’s public image. Additionally, the change would remove any terms connotated with subjugation, servitude, and power inequalities from our governing and policy documents. Some felt that “new member” was a misleading term because “pledges” haven’t been initiated. However, the comment which received the greatest endorsement was that hazing will continue regardless of what we call pledges/new members, and that this legislation seems like a cursory solution that circumvents the heart of the problem. What a call to action!

The SCL’s final proposal was to rename the undergraduate Grand Lodge positions (currently called “Undergraduate Secretary” and “Undergraduate Treasurer”). They are misnomers and do not reflect the duties these positions perform. The new title would be “Undergraduate Member at Large,” which better articulates their responsibilities.

In sum, the legislative proposals dealing with:

  1. Renaming the undergraduate Grand Lodge positions to “Undergraduate Member(s) at Large;”
  2. Increasing service fees from $100 to $120; and
  3. Enabling the Grand Lodge to increase the service fee, by a reasonable amount (up to 5%), every three years without the passage of legislation

were approved to be sent to Charges for ratification. The legislative proposal dealing with removing the word “pledge” and subsequent derivations from the Constitution, By-Laws and Policy statements was tabled and sent back to the SCL for revision and reconsideration.

Charge Presidents should be on the lookout for correspondence from the CFO regarding the legislation that was approved by the 170th Convention. This legislation will take effect only if ratified by a majority of the members of three-fourths of the active Charges. Should any Charge fail to respond within thirty days to official correspondence wherein the consent of the Charge to an amendment to the Constitution, or to the adoption or amendment of a By-Law, or to any measure is solicited, the consent of such Charge shall be considered to have been granted.

Charitos Society Reception

On Friday evening, Brothers and their guests attended a reception at the Hard Rock Café where they renewed the bonds under musical regalia from Elvis and Aerosmith while enjoying a wide array of appetizers and beverages. Over 50 Theta Delts in attendance were greeted and thanked by Director of Development Patrick Tiernan for their continued support of VG Dues as members of the leadership annual giving program known as the Charitos Society. The meaning of the term Charitos comes from the Greek meaning “friendship” or “care of another.” It is because of their generosity that we can provide custom programming for Charges and other services that would not be possible without the necessary funding. Guests walked away with a Hard Rock Café Philadelphia glass branded with the Charitos logo as a souvenir of their time at the 2017 Convention. They also were treated to a professionally designed vanilla cookie branded with the Charitos logo. All in all, it was a great way to close out the first full day of sessions and meetings!

Convention Photos

Grand Banquet

After an exhilarating weekend which saw the renewal of our fraternal bonds, the 170th Convention of Theta Delta Chi finally came to an end, culminating in the Grand Banquet. An annual tradition in which Brothers from across the world enjoy one final meal together before going their separate ways, the ultimate goal of the Grand Banquet is to honor the accomplishments of our active Brothers, Charges, and alumni. The success of our outstanding Charges should be an inspiration to all in Theta Delta Chi to always endeavor to improve and reform. To the Old Lady!

New Charge Consultant Gordon Bentley presented Autism Speak’s Triple Threat Award, which goes to the Charge which excels in Light it Up Blue, awareness, and fundraising. This year’s Triple Threat Award went to the Sigma Deuteron Charge at the University of Wisconsin. If your Charge would like to become more involved with Autism Speaks, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the CFO, your local Autism Speaks U Chapter, or designated Autism Speaks contact!

The following recognitions were made during the banquet program:

Individual Awards

  • Undergraduate of the Year – Michael Allen, Gamma Deuteron ‘18
  • Alumnus of the Year – Dr. Bruce Tench, Iota Triton ‘06

Loyalty Cups

  • Charles P. Schmid Loyalty Cup for highest number of donors— Gamma Deuteron, University of Michigan
  • Charles P. Schmid Loyalty Cup for highest percentage of donors— Upsilon Deuteron, Wabash College

Convention Awards

  • Glenn Marston Travel Cup – Rho Triton, VCU
  • Graduate Attendance Trophy – Sigma Triton, Penn State University
  • #TDX170 Photo Contest – George Economou ’20, Lambda Deuteron, University of Toronto
  • Brian J. Bertges Service and Philanthropy Cup – Xi Deuteron, University of Washington
  • Guy C. Pierce Improvement Cup – Epsilon Triton, Arizona State University
  • Ritual Improvement Cup – Sigma Triton, Penn State University
  • President’s Cup – Upsilon Deuteron, Wabash College
  • Theta Delt of the Year – Randall Meyer ’11, Theta Triton, Binghamton
  • Victory Cup – Gamma Deuteron, University of Michigan

This year saw some repeats and newcomers when it came to award recipients. For the second year in a row, Sigma Triton sent the most alumni to Convention!

The Brothers of the Upsilon Deuteron Charge consistently are one of the best when it comes to adherence to our Ritual, and this year they only improved upon it.

The Epsilon Triton Charge at Arizona State University should be noted for having only 3 Brothers at the beginning of the year, but have grown to a solid 22. Good luck in future recruitments, and congrats on your award!

Most importantly, the Brothers of Gamma Deuteron have taken home the Victory Cup for the second year in a row, a feat rarely accomplished. Since their re-founding in 2009, the Charge has shown continued growth. Not surprisingly, the 2016 Charge President, Michael Allen, won Undergraduate of the Year due to his commitment to the Fraternity in all aspects. The Brothers of Gamma Deuteron excel in every single category of their operations and management. With strong alumni involvement and sustained hard work, they are poised for success. The question for next year’s Convention is: will Gamma Deuteron pull of the first Victory Cup 3-peat since Delta Deuteron did it between 1947 and 1949? We shall see!

Adam Marks and Dr. Bruce Tench presented the following scholarships on behalf of the Scholarship Committee and Educational Foundation.

Scholarship Winners

  • Davenport--Kyle Friend, Beta
  • Davenport--Raymond Lau, Xi Deuteron
  • Davenport--Miles Lucas, Beta Deuteron
  • Davenport--Michael Hughes, Lambda Triton
  • General--Kieran Baack, Gamma Deuteron
  • General--Jason Nelson, Alpha
  • Porter--John Schroeder, Sigma Deuteron

Special Recognition for his Service:

A special moment during the awards ceremony came when Jim Fath (Sigma Triton ’66) accepted a custom charter on behalf of his friend and fellow Wilmington Graduate Association member Spencer Manthorpe (Phi ’58). It served as a reminder of his numerous years of dedicated service to the “Old Lady” while serving the Founders’ Corporation, Educational Foundation, and his own Charge at Lafayette College. While Spencer was not able to attend the Grand Banquet, an enthusiastic applause made sure his numerous contributions were not overlooked!

Charitos Development Award:

John “JB” Geisler has served as President of the Educational Foundation for over twenty years. During his tenure, our endowment has grown significantly allowing us to provide more scholarships and grants to deserving active members. In addition to being recognized for his tenure of service, the CFO also presented him with a new flag and tickets to the Detroit Lions season opener!

That’s a wrap! With the 170th Convention in the books be sure to mark your calendars for the 171st, which will be held in Richmond, VA. The dates are August 9th, 10th, and 11th, 2018! The Fine Southern gentlemen of Rho Triton will play host, as Theta Delta Chi’s annual Convention returns to Richmond for the first time since 1989.

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