At the Fraternity’s 159th Anniversary Convention, the Fraternity Convention unanimously voted to charge the Permanent Committee on Fraternity Laws with revising the Fraternity Laws into a streamlined, user-friendly document. Following the event, the Supreme Council ordered the committee to carry out this charge.

What follows is the culmination of this work, undertaken by the committee, since it first convened shortly following the convention. The major product of this effort is the Official Revision Document, embodying a re-statement (or omnibus amendment) of the entirety of the Fraternity Laws.

Official Documents

The committee has produced three documents to embody its current draft of the revision. The first is the current Official Revision Document draft. The other two documents track the proposed changes to help the Realm understand what is changing and what is not.

  • Official Revision Document
  • Mark-Up Document
    This version includes the mark-up (or tracked changes) showing the letter-by-letter changes to the current version of the Fraternity Laws.
  • Comparison Document
    This version includes all the language of the current version of the Fraternity Laws with a reference to where the language may be found in the revision.

Although the committee members have taken great care to track changes to the Fraternity Laws down to the letter, the Official Restatement Document is the official draft of the proposal and will control any typographical errors in any other document.

Please also note that the current version of the Fraternity Laws incorporates certain amendments to the ESA’s and ESR’s auxiliary titles, which were recently amended by a mail-ballot vote.

Direction & Charge

The Fraternity Laws ultimately belong to the Fraternity Convention, comprised of delegates from all chapters, alumni associations, Province Archons, Past ESAs and current Supreme Council. At the 159th Anniversary Convention, delegtes unanimously approved a resolution charging the Committee “with recommending to the Fraternity Convention such changes to the Fraternity Laws as it deems necessary to revise and refine the Fraternity Laws into a streamlined, well-organized document.” You may view the full resolution HERE.

Following our most recent convention, the Supreme Council appointed the committee’s members issued the following charge to them: “To propose revisions to the Fraternity Laws to be considered by the Fraternity Convention that will streamline and re-align the laws into a well-organized document for the purpose of making them more meaningful and user-friendly to the Realm.”

It is with these combined charges and authority that the committee conducted its work.

The Committee’s Philosophy

The committee members adopted several tenets at its convening meeting to guide it throughout the revision process. They adopted those items to limit its scope, and they share these tenets to enlighten the Realm on its thought process. Committee members hope that these tenets are noticeable in the draft they have prepared.

Governing Document
The committee believes the purpose of the Fraternity Laws is to serve as the organic document for the Fraternity and not a listing of unnecessary policies or procedures.

Structural Document
The Fraternity Laws should specify the structural framework of the Fraternity and state the philosophical policies that its leaders should enact. Establishing procedures to carry out these policies should be left to the Fraternity’s bodies, such as the Supreme Council, provinces or chapters.

Policy Changes
In reviewing the policies contained in the Fraternity Laws, it is the committee’s duty to maintain the current policies as much as practical — refraining from any major, substantive policy changes.

Duties of Officers
The Fraternity Laws should list only the major duties of an officer, deferring to the officer’s governing board or supervising officer for day-to-day management.

Language Choice
The Fraternity Laws should use crisp, modern language, avoiding legalese or multiple terms with the same meaning.

Revision Process

The committee’s review process was threefold: reorganization, revision and reunification.

The committee members first started by reorganizing the Fraternity Laws into the outline you can see in the current draft of the revision. Essentially, they separated out the individual sections and subsections in the current version of the Fraternity Laws, regrouping them according to theme. This is most apparent in the ordering of the current draft’s titles and the corresponding sections and subsections.

Once reorganized, the committee reviewed the Fraternity Laws, title by title, section by section, line by line and word by word. No word in the current version went without review. Following the tenets committee members adopted at their convening meeting, they reviewed changes to make the Fraternity Laws a streamlined document.

Once revised, the committee reviewed its draft as a whole document, reviewing the word-by-word edits for consistency, grammar and typographical errors throughout the document. This mock-up of the revisions resulted in a re-unified, consistent document that speaks with one voice instead of a collection of patchworked amendments from throughout the years. The deliverable product of all these efforts is the draft shown in the Official Revision Document.

Throughout this process, committee members reviewed their revisions with all of the constituencies affected by these changes, including insight gained from the breadth of the committee’s membership as well as the Supreme Council, the Fraternity Service Center, the Council of Province Archons, the Fraternity’s standing and biennium committees and the SAE Financial & Housing Corporation. In addition, committee members reviewed more than 50 years of historical proposed amendments to the Fraternity Laws and the publicly available governing documents of other fraternal organizations.

Revision Highlights

Although the document does not include any major policy changes, there are some minor, yet substantive, changes that help improve the document’s clarity and authority. Below is a snapshot of the major areas affected, including areas where the committee spent significant time and energy.

Member Discipline
The committee clarified many issues where the current version of the Fraternity Laws currently is silent and removed the legalese nature of the discipline process as much as possible.

Membership Statuses
The committee refined the steps and levels a Fraternity member goes through, making it clear how a member’s status is classified given the several actions that can take place affecting his membership.

The Fraternity’s Regularly Constituted Bodies
The Fraternity Laws creates and structures the bodies that carry out the essence of the Fraternity, including the Fraternity Convention, the Supreme Council, the province conventions and the Chapters Collegiate. Committee members reformatted the structuring sections for each of the aforementioned bodies using a consistent format throughout the document.

Deference to the Fraternity’s Regularly Constituted Bodies
The committee expanded the authority for these bodies to govern themselves, including the authority for these bodies to establish by-laws or internal rules not inconsistent with the Fraternity Laws or the directions of the Fraternity Convention.

Officer Duties
The committee reduced the specified job duties for many Fraternity and chapter officers, giving deference to the Supreme Council and the chapters themselves to govern their respective officers.

House Corporations
Committee members refined the Fraternity Laws’ philosophical directives toward house corporations, given their separate legal status from the Fraternity and their affiliation with the Fraternity for tax and insurance purposes.

Defined Terms
The committee removed cross-references that cited one section of the Fraternity Laws with another. Instead, members utilized defined terms (found in small caps where defined and capitalized elsewhere) to convey consistent legal meaning throughout the document.

Committee Membership

As appointed by the Supreme Council, the committee includes Fraternity members from various backgrounds and experiences:

  • Clark Brown (Arkansas-Fayetteville ’07), Fraternity General Counsel
  • Thomas Dement (Middle Tennessee State ’90), Supreme Council Member
  • Austin Evans (Wisconsin-Madison ’05), Province Archon & Committee Chairman
  • Alan Moore (North Georgia ’11), Province Archon & Committee Vice Chairman
  • Edmond “Buddy” Noel (Dartmouth ’68), Alumnus Member
  • Steve Schneider (New Mexico ’68), Alumnus Member
  • Richard Shanahan (Fort Hayes State ’03), Alumnus Member
  • Timothy Sirota (UC-San Diego ’14), Staff Liaison
  • Greg Williams (UC-Riverside ’16), Collegiate Member

By the Numbers

  • 64: Approximate pages of the current version of the Fraternity Laws
  • 25: Approximate pages of the restated version of the Fraternity Laws
  • 10,997: Net reduction in words between the current and re-stated versions
  • 2,362: Number of textual edits embodied in the mark-up version of the proposal
  • 10: Number of Committee conference calls to craft the proposal
  • 1963: The earliest year of Fraternity Law proposals that the committee reviewed in understanding the history of the document over time

How to Provide Comments

Receiving feedback from Fraternity members of all ages, locations and involvement levels is a critical part of this process. The committee is actively seeking feedback from members to ensure that its vision for what the Fraternity Laws ought to match the Realm’s.

To provide feedback on the current draft of the revision, you may e-mail your comments to Committee members will review all comments and, if appropriate, will incorporate such comments, as appropriate.

Feedback of any kind from anyone will be useful, and committee members specifically encourage your feedback.




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