Sigma Chi Derby Days 2023

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Layout by Dora Kreitzer ’25, Print Managing Editor.

Victoria Hall, Contributing Writer

The Bucknell University chapter of Sigma Chi will begin its week long Derby Days philanthropy event on April 17. This annual competition involves participation from all sororities on campus and raises money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. 

The Huntsman Cancer Institute partners with Sigma Chi chapters across the nation as a philanthropic partner. The research center was established by Jon M. Huntsman who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania as a brother of Sigma Chi. The center has now expanded to a treatment center as well and continues to treat and research various types of cancer.

Bucknell Derby Days 2022 raised $112,401.80 for Huntsman and ranked the chapter as third for the most money raised across the nation and among 244 Sigma Chi chapters. This money along with money raised from the year before has gone to establishing the brand new Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers. A dedicated Sigma Chi floor on the wing will feature various plaques for the top donating schools. This year the Bucknell Sigma Chi brothers hope to raise more money than they ever have before. 

Seven on-campus sororities will be participating in this year’s Derby Days events. Sororities nominate two of their members for the week and encourage participation from all other members. Two members of the Sigma Chi fraternity are assigned to each of the sororities also as captains for the week, along with seven brothers as team members.

With events Monday through Friday, the Welcome Dinner and Banner Competition kick start the week. The Greek community and all students are invited to attend the buffet style dinner at the Academic West Pavilion at 5:30 p.m. During the dinner each participating sorority will have their banner debuted and displayed. The banners will be judged by a panel of faculty members and brothers of the fraternity. 

Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. features the new event for the week, the Sigma Chi Call-a-Thon. Teams will work to cold call alumni, family, friends and other connections to try and raise the most money. The event will have catered food and drinks for participants along with bells to ring when donations are made. Later that night the teams will travel to Imperial Lanes at 9:00 p.m. for a bowling competition. Each sorority is allowed two bowling teams each with four of their own members and two members from the fraternity. Winner of the Bowling Competition is determined by the total pin count from the games played by each sorority’s teams.

The annual Sigma Chi Search will start Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 6:00 p.m. Each sorority will be sent the task list ranked from easy to hard. Some examples from the scavenger hunt include taking a picture in a Bucknell athletic jersey or completing an act of kindness for a member of another team. The sorority to complete all the tasks the fastest will win and if teams don’t complete the full hunt they will be ranked by the most tasks completed.  

Participation in Thursday’s Trivia event will feature the sorority teams while also being open to all students on campus. Starting at 5:00 p.m. it will be held in the Terrace room and students can form teams of up to eight members. There will be four rounds of different trivia categories and the team with the most points will be declared the winner. While the sorority scores will be calculated for the Derby Days competition there will also be prizes for the winners of Trivia whether they are a part of Greek Life or not. 

Friday features the last event for the sorority competition. At 2:00 p.m. on the intramural fields the annual Flag Football Tournament will take place. Teams will play five vs. five with sorority members being coached by both Sigma Chi teammates and their own sorority sisters. The games will be refereed by both IM referees and Sigma Chi members.

During the competition there are various week-long events that sororities and other Bucknell students can also participate in. Penny Wars will be ongoing outside of the Bison in the ELC. Coins added to a sorority’s bucket will add to their total while dollar bills will subtract from their total. Any student can add coins or dollar bills and the sorority with the highest total will win. Additionally, a small white cross will be hidden on Bucknell’s campus. Each day sororities will be given a clue as to where it is and the team to find it will win a point for the competition. Along with these, T-Shirts and Wristbands will be sold during the week as $23 for a shirt and $3 for a wristband. If a student is buying both the price will be $25.

Planning for these various events takes time and effort. Each year a Derby Days Executive Board of Sigma Chi brothers is elected to organize and run the competition. This year’s board includes Rhett Robins ’23, Max Hefner ’23, Brad Tauscher ’23, Brooks Burt ’23, Kevin Cody ’23 and Ben Sandusky ’23. Before Derby Days begins the board reaches out to each sorority to elect one member to meet and discuss the events, ideas from past years or raise any questions and concerns. This year’s executive board shared with the Bucknellian parts of their planning process for events, why they participate and more. 

“As a senior, it is my third year as a brother of Sigma Chi and I have had the chance to participate in two Derby Days philanthropy weeks so far,” Cody said, speaking on his decision to join the executive board this year. “For both of those weeks, I was beyond impressed with how well the Bucknell community came together and worked towards a cause that has affected everyone at this school in one way or another. Because of this, the philanthropy work that we do has become a huge part of my identity, and so I knew I wanted a more significant role in this year’s Derby Days.” 

“The planning process for this year’s Derby Days began back in the Fall semester of 2022 when we decided who the executive team would be,” Cody said. “Immediately after, we reached out to last year’s Derby Days’ executive members and listened to their thoughts on how last year’s event went. We learned about what went well and what didn’t go so well, and took that to help us create a smoother Derby Days week. We also began our conversations with the Greek office very early on and started working with them to make the events possible.”

Cody explained that his official title is Events Planner along with Burt. Although the board collaborates on most activities, this role specifically handles planning events like Trivia and bowling.

“Our committee has been meeting since last December in preparation of how we were going to make this our most successful year to date,” Burt shared. “The early action we take generates excitement throughout not only our  entire fraternity in the months/weeks leading up to our start date, but also those in other sororities whom we are interacting with.”

Burt went on to share his thoughts on the success behind the money Derby Days is able to raise. “I believe everyone taking part in Derby Days knows the great cause we are supporting and also unfortunately knows a close family member or friend directly affected by cancer giving everyone their own personal motivation,” Burt said. “This makes participation much easier in the end as well, when everyone has their own personal “why” it allows us to have successful events which people truly want to be participating in. We have been blessed that we can organize an event that serves as an outlet for so many of us in the Greek life community to pursue incredible philanthropic efforts together.”

Continuing on from this Tauscher shared the positive impacts of Derby Days at Bucknell. “Derby Days encourages community involvement for both members of Greek Life and Bucknell as a whole by bringing students together in support of a great cause,” Tauscher said. “Although our student population is smaller than other universities across the country, the passion and energy that the Bucknell community provides has resulted in some of the largest contributions from Sigma Chi Chapters to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The historic success of Derby Days is living proof of what the Bucknell community can accomplish together.”

“One of our biggest hopes for this year is to raise $150,000,” Cody said. “We know it’s ambitious, especially since we’re part of a fairly small school, but we’re going to try. Last year we raised a little over $112,000 and so we’ve been working incredibly hard on finding ways to expand the Derby Days presence both on and off Bucknell’s campus.”

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