Though he has recently concluded his run as Epsilon Pi Eminent Commander, outgoing senior Peter Slaats is our Snake of the Month. Here is the essay he submitted as part of his application for the Gerald L. Coffee Scholarship.
One of the main principles that I took to heart during our candidate process is that you get out of it what you put into it. Sigma Nu quickly became something that I cared deeply for and wanted to improve. Since fall quarter of my freshman year, I have continually strived to advance Epsilon Pi and contribute to the development of our members. I chose to accomplish this by taking on many roles on our executive committee including Recorder, House Manager, Risk Reduction Chairman, and now as Eminent Commander.
In all of those roles I sought to innovate how things get done. For example, as Risk Reduction Chairman I overhauled our sober monitor policy in the first week on the job. Regulations regarding events require a certain number of sober monitors who oversee the function and we had relied on volunteers for each event – a practice that left many holes in our security and frequently led to noncompliance. To change that, I instituted a rotational duty program that selected members with a randomly generated computer program including incentives for participation and sanctions for failure to uphold one’s duty. There has not been a single event where we have been out of compliance in this regard and the practice continues to this day.
This is one piece illustrating the ethical standards of duty I seek to develop in our members. My childhood was remarkably unchallenging; I knew that my path was to study as hard as possible to try and get into an exceptional school while developing comradery and morals through sports and worship. I had never been placed into a situation growing up where tough decisions were needed that would reveal whether or not I had sound character. That changed when I began to take on increasing responsibility with Sigma Nu. There is, indeed, no practical or formal training for how to make these tough decisions. In very blunt terms, many things went wrong and UCLA Greek Life faced significant adversity during my term as Eminent Commander. Numerous situations required prompt communication with representatives from the school, Alumni Board, and SigmaNu National in order to clear our name. We have been especially fortunate that our policy of honesty and open communication has prevented a crisis that would force questions of the integrity of Epsilon Pi. I often tell my leadership team one phrase; if I were only able to have one piece of legacy from serving as Eminent Commander, then it would be that we remain calm in coming forward with our mistakes and seek guidance for how to prevent them in the future.