Theta Delta Chi’s 171st Convention Recap

The 171st Convention Was One to Remember

This year, the city of Richmond played host to Theta Delta Chi’s 171st Convention. Richmond is also home to the recently re-chartered Rho Triton Charge at Virginia Commonwealth University. This Convention was one of business, renewing social bonds, and celebrating Rho Triton’s return to the active rolls.

Enjoy this Grand Banquet photo gallery courtesy of Thomas Stephan, Sigma Triton ’73, and then read on for all the details!

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2018’s Grand Banquet photos are courtesy of Thomas Stephan, Sigma Triton ’73
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The Business Sessions

Attendees arrived throughout the afternoon on Thursday. After the final meeting of the 141st Grand Lodge, the 1st Business Session was opened.

President of the Grand Lodge Jason Dietz, Sigma Triton ‘01 and Executive Director Brian Bertges, Sigma Triton ’00, gave their reports on the state of our fraternity. While the state of Greek life across the world is dire, and while we have had many setbacks this past year, the overall view of our fraternity is one of positivity. Brothers were encouraged set the example that all Theta Delts should be setting, and to have little tolerance for those willing to jeopardize their Charge and our Fraternity for selfish or reckless reasons.

The Convention was then briefed by Brother Matthew Hoyt, Iota Triton ’09 on the lone legislative proposal brought forth by the Standing Committee on Legislation (SCL). One of the four proposals discussed and tabled for reconsideration at the 170th Convention was reintroduced to the 171st. The SCL proposed removing all references of “pledge” and “pledging” in our Constitution to “New Member”, “New Member Education,” or other appropriate language based on context as a way to better our Fraternity’s image publicly, especially when we Grand Lodge and CFO petition campuses to start new Charges. The SCL felt this would promote a more positive image of Theta Delta Chi by removing any terms connotated with subjugation, servitude, and power inequalities from our governing and policy documents. Proposals discussed were “prospective new member,” “associate member,” “new member candidate,” “new member applicant,” and “committing member.” This proposal was slated to be brought up for an official vote at the 2nd Business Session on Saturday.

President of the Grand Lodge Jason Dietz and Executive Director Bertges then gave the Convention an update on legislation that will most likely be brought forth at the 172nd and 173rd Conventions. These topics surrounded: the term “revocation hearing,” the level of secrecy surrounding the preamble, clarifying degrees of initiation, clarifying alumni status, and the topic of transgender membership. Brief discussion followed regarding items 1 and 2, with items 3, 4, and 5 not being discussed due to lack of time. The SCL will address and discuss these items in the upcoming year.

Discussed:

  1. Revisiting what level of seriousness the term “Revocation Hearing” should be used for. Also, potentially adding additional terms for other needed hearings, but ones that may not have the brevity that necessitates a Charter to be revoked. Some ideas put forth were “Charge Development Hearing,” Charge Evaluation Hearing,” “Charge Incident Hearing,” “Reform Plan Hearing,”
  2. Making our Preamble semi-private so pledges could be taught our values, or even making it fully public like the constitution so the general public can understand our values.
  3. Not discussed:

  4. Changing the timelines on Degrees of Initiation to where the first degree would be given when bids are given out, and the second degree would be given as the culmination of the pledging process.
  5. Clarifying the definition of “alumni status,” and addressing what would happen if undergraduates were to “go inactive” or “deactivate” prior to their graduation. This is currently not allowed in our Constitution, however, is a de facto norm throughout Greek Life.
  6. Clarifying our fraternity’s status on transgender membership – if individuals identifying as men during recruitment are allowed to join our fraternity regardless of birth sex or gender.
  7. To close out the 1st General Business Session, Charge Consultant Gordon Bentley, Sigma Deuteron ’17, presented the following Certificates of Excellence:

    Finance – Upsilon Deuteron
    Risk Management – Sigma Triton
    Programming – Eta Deuteron
    Inter-Charge Relations – Lambda Deuteron
    Recruitment – Epsilon Triton
    Campus Involvement – Xi Triton
    New Member Education – Rho Triton
    Hospitality – Psi Tetraton
    #SocialMediaMarketing – Tau Triton, @tdxmarist

    After a day of white water rafting, a historical trolley tour, the Omega Service, and the Charitos reception, (recapped below) Saturday started off with the 2nd General Business Session.

    The Convention discussed and voted upon the aforementioned SCL proposal to change the terms “pledge” and “pledging” in our governing documents and policies. Discussion was largely swift, as most conventioneers had determined that they had no real issue with Changing the term “pledge.” What concerned Brothers most was that any new terms properly reflect an individual that had made a “pledge” or “commitment” to our Fraternity but does not misidentify these individuals as “members.”

    The Convention floor was able to agree upon the term “New Member Candidate” as an agreeable term in place of “New Member.” The SCL report had already drafted edits for all places the terms were used, and the floor eventually voted unanimously on accepting the SCL report with all uses of “New Member” to be changed to “New Member Candidate.”

    These proposals were passed by the Convention and will now be sent to the Charges for ratification by the Director of Charge Operations.

    Charge Presidents should be on the lookout for correspondence from the CFO regarding the legislation that was approved by the 171st Convention. This legislation will take effect only if ratified by three-fourths of the active Charges. It takes a simple majority vote for a Charge to internally ratify the legislation. 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.

The Grand Lodge

The 142nd Grand Lodge has added one new member to its ranks. Four positions were up for election. Treasurer of the Grand Lodge Quincy Gottwig, Sigma Deuteron ’15 and Executive Member Adam Marks Nu Deuteron ’99 both re-ran for their positions, were elected, and have extended their terms for two years until the 173rd Convention in 2020. Undergraduate Member at Large Julian Weller, Mu Triton ’19 also re-ran and won his undergraduate position, which he will serve for a year until the 172nd Convention in 2019.

President of the Grand Lodge Jason Dietz, Sigma Triton ’01, Secretary of the Grand Lodge Stephan Johnson, Gamma Triton ’92, and Executive Member Ian Karls, Sigma Deuteron ‘17, still have one year left in their terms, which will expire at the 172nd Convention in 2019.

The new face added to the Grand Lodge was Undergraduate Member at Large Dominic Sutermeister, Nu ’20.

All other Brothers who ran for the Grand Lodge are encouraged to remain involved with our Fraternity, and if interested, should sit on Grand Lodge Committees in the upcoming calendar year.

White-Water Rafting Minerva Session on the James River

Nearly one-hundred brothers and guests started their Friday morning by piling onto yellow school buses and were shuttle to Boulevard Bridge. There, guides from Riverside Outfitters waited to brief the group before sending us onto the James River.

After getting helmets, lifejackets, and all other safety tips, Brother Dr. Richard E. Wood, Gamma Triton ’73, 64th PGL, spoke to the group. He explained the importance of team work in getting down the river and connected the risks and struggles of the upcoming rafting experience as parallels the Brothers may experience in their Charges this upcoming year.

Rafts of six departed down the river, making a stop at Belle Isle for lunch after just a few rapids. Rafters had the opportunity to swim, take in the beautiful views from the James, and catch some sun as we made our way down the river.

The Trolley Tour

For those who could not brave the waters, we hosted a family friendly event on privately chartered trolley tour. Mostly held within the confines of air conditioning, Theta Delts and their families explored the rich history of Richmond, visiting key locations such as the site of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

The Omega Service

After a wardrobe change from swim trunks to suit and tie, Theta Delts congregated at St. James’s Episcopal Church for the annual Omega Service. The Omega Service is a staple of the Convention schedule, and is a time of reflection and remembrance for the group. The program was led by Brother Robert Wootton, Rho Triton ’95 with music from his wife Robin. The service had the traditional reading of the Omega Role by the Grand Lodge, and also featured words from three Brothers who each wanted to reflect on a Brother that entered the halls of Omega.

Charitos Reception

Immediately following the Omega Service, invited alumni and their guests gathered at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for a private event celebrating our donors and volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of the “Old Lady.” A fully catered dinner from Mission BBQ delivered a classic array of southern delights ranging from pulled pork and brisket to homemade cornbread. After indulging in some of Hardywood’s renowned offerings ranging from tripels to sours, brothers saw a newly released marketing video for the Charitos Society, the leadership annual giving program of Voluntary Graduate Dues which supports scholarship, grants, and educational programming offered throughout the year. Director of Development Patrick Tiernan also introduced the giving thermometer for the Grand Banquet and encouraged brothers to make a gift to support the programs at Convention. By the end of the night over $3,000 had been contributed toward the $25,000 goal! It was a fitting night of gratitude for everything our alumni do for their local Charge and the work of the CFO!

Minerva Sessions

After the 2nd General Business Session, undergraduate delegates went to further Minerva Sessions, while alumni attended the 142nd Grand Lodge Meeting, Founders’ Corporation Meetings, or the Educational Foundation Meetings.

Christina O’Neill, Field Development Manager for Autism Speaks, led the first Minerva Session. Since Autism Speaks became our philanthropy partner in 2011, we have looked to find new ways for our groups to support the Autism Community through fundraisers, awareness, and “Light It Up Blue” events. Throughout the year, the CFO supplies our Charges with resources on how to fundraise, however, Christina took this opportunity to motivate our members by discussing why they should want to fundraise. Seeing and hearing about the impact Autism Speaks makes will be great motivation for delegates to bring back to their Charges this fall!

Bobbi Larsen, an Educational Consultant for Holmes Murphy, (our Insurance Broker) presented on liability and intervention. Bobbi has presented and engaged in conversation with many of Theta Delta Chi’s rising leaders over the years on the topic of knowing your liability and coverage.

Brother Patrick Tiernan, Chi Triton ’99, Director of Development, led a session titled “Masculinity, Misogyny, and Morals in 2018.” The session objectives were to develop an increased awareness of issues surrounding masculinity and gender as a way for the undergraduates to reflect on their role as agents of change, and to recognize the constitutive elements of a holistic relationship.

This was followed by the session “The Roles and Responsibilities of Title IX,” led by Trisha Saunders (M.Ed., NCC is the Associate Director of the Wellness Resource Center at VCU), Tammi Slovinsky (Virginia Commonwealth University’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students), and Eric Garrison (Assistant Director, Office of Health Promotion at William & Mary, Chair of the Virginia Campus Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assault). The session gave delegates an increased understanding of Title IX and presented them with need to know information as members of their respective campus communities.

The Minerva Sessions culminated with a panel discussion on “The Roles and Responsibilities of Title IX, Risk Management, and Insurance.” The presenters of the three previous Minerva sessions sat on the panel to answer questions from the delegates. The conversations started off slow but transformed into an open dialogue between the floor and panel. Questions and answers alike came from both directions. We are thankful to have had such great presenters join in their topic-specific conversations and on the panel!

PGL Reception and The Grand Banquet

The culmination of the Convention weekend always ends with the Presidents’ of the Grand Lodge Reception and the Grand Banquet and draws the biggest crowd of any Convention event. Over 200 guests were in the banquet room, with many more following along via live-stream!

One of the main focuses of the Grand Banquet is always awards. This year, we also decided to highlight specific Brothers and their stories. Our speakers gave special insight to their personal journeys on how Theta Delta Chi has played a special meaning in their lives. It’s the “why,” not the “what” that matters the most. From Brother Steve Hedberg’s speech of following your passions and having the brotherhood support you in both good and bad times, to Brother Bruce Tench’s words about how our Educational Foundation took his students to somewhere that otherwise would not have been possible, the impact was clear. We will post the video in the near future and encourage everyone to watch the whole event, as the Grand Banquet exemplified what brotherhood is all about.

Awards

Our Scholarship Winners:

General $1847

  • Brendan James Gudenburr, Gamma Triton 2016
  • Jack Frank Chovanec, Sigma Deuteron 2015

Davenport $4000

  • Tim Dabrowski, Psi Tetraton 2020
  • Yoab Garcia, Psi Deuteron 2018
  • Scott Robert Hojlo, Alpha 2019
  • Colin DeMeritt, Beta 2019

Individual Awards

  • Undergraduate of the Year – Levi Garrison, Upsilon Deuteron ‘18
  • Alumnus of the Year – “Wally” Thomas Stephan, Sigma Triton ‘73

Charles P. Schmid Loyalty Cups:

  • Highest Number of Donors – Gamma Deuteron
  • Highest Percentage of Donors – Rho Triton

Convention Awards:

  • Glenn Marston Travel Cup – Rho Triton
  • Graduate Attendance Trophy – Rho Triton
  • #TDX171 Photo Contest –@uwtdx
  • Service and Philanthropy Cup – Gamma Deuteron
  • Guy C. Pierce Improvement Cup –Delta Deuteron
  • Ritual Improvement Cup – Lambda Deuteron
  • President’s Cup – Upsilon Deuteron
  • Theta Delt of the Year – Taylor Early
  • Victory Cup – Iota Triton