Radical Ways Students Can Better Greek Life

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We labeled 2015 the year of limiting the fraternity and sorority obsession with fixing everything all of the time.For 2016, why not share our approach to each of fraternity and sorority’s main issues and how we would address them. This second post regarding the new year is geared toward students and the ways they can make genuine change. Would any of these positions be effective? Probably, but the gist of each of these is that our young men should be more courageous and attentive.

 

1. Membership

 

Follow our 2015 advice: Build a Monopoly.

In 2006, Nintendo was dogged by critics for creating the Wii, a system that didn’t have as much power as its rivals and had a controller with, basically, one button and motion control. We actually had an entire post about Nintendo’s late President Iwata, but you should know that the Wii easily outsold its competition. Why?

It’s called the Blue Ocean Strategy, and there’s a book about it. Fraternities need new target markets, and chapters willing to restrict themselves to a target market in order to experience growth and stability. Think of any organization from which your fraternity would like to pull members and gear your experience to that organization.

That means fewer socials (unless you’re recruiting from Toast Masters) and using your day-to-day events (chapter meetings, service events, brotherhood events, etc.) as opportunities to introduce potential members to your group. It sounds so simple, but one chapter out of dozens I’ve met with has had an idea of its target market. Last year, that chapter grew by 180%, this year, another 100%. It works.

 

2. Risk Management

 

Let’s start this one the same way we started it on the professional side: Take a deep breath. Let go.

Here are your two tips to fixing the majority of your risk management issues:

  • Change The Law: Seriously. Most of us think waiting to drink until you’re 21 is ridiculous and we, for some reason, refuse to accept that we as masters of our governments can change it. Start gathering petitions, (PLEASE do not wear your fraternity letters while gathering signatures. I don’t care about your reputation, but you’ll get more signatures when students think you’re just like them), then pester your senators and representative.
  • Boycott Sororities: They suck. Really, they suck. Sororities have the wonderful privilege of being barred from hosting parties and having hundreds of men dying at the chance to risk their charters in order to get a kiss. Stop. These women are using you! If you are not following FIPG-like guidelines and are interested in those of the female gender attending your functions, stick to a sports team until sororities change their rules. That might be even more difficult than changing drinking-age laws, so you may be boycotting for quite a while. But I’m sure it’ll make the news, and in a good way!

3. Sexual Assault

 

Casual sex is about 3 minutes of enjoyment (let’s be real Johnny Six-Pack) with the following potential outcomes:

  • A “Friends With Benefits” relationship
  • A formal relationship built on a poor foundation and destined to fail
  • A baby and/or abortion
  • A Sexually Transmitted Infection
  • Nothing. Pure emptiness.
  • A sexual assault charge.

Of those options, do any sound enticing? Most don’t, because casual sex is worthless. If you insist on doing it, do it sober and make sure your partner is enjoying it by asking if he/she is enjoying it, not by assuming you’re Zeus and that he/she is lucky to be in your naked, dad-bod presence.

 

4. Standards Programs

 

If your school has different requirements for a fraternity or sorority to maintain good standing than it does any other non-NCAA student organization, boycott the requirements.

Why? It’s unfair. You are, most likely, a part of an organization founded for a specific purpose. You are not receiving a scholarship from your school for joining a fraternity or sorority (most likely) and it makes zero sense to be held to a different standard.

Don’t buy the “we have higher standards” B.S. You already joined into those higher standards when you said some oath in some room with candles and people hovering around you silently or making awkward noises like coughing or shuffling their feet until you are in a fit of rage from all of the distracting noises. CAN’T PEOPLE JUST STAND SILENTLY STILL FOR 20-30 MINUTES?!

Seriously though, demand that your requirements to remain in good-standing are no different than any student group at your university. It’s unfair. Your Greek Life community standards should not determine your eligibility to exist, they should serve as a model to assess a chapter’s contribution and should be an internal coaching tool.

 

 

5. Programming (Philanthropy & Speakers)

There is a 9/10 chance that at least 7/10 students at your school do not want to give money to a Greek-letter organization. I made that up, but most statistics are just biased observations anyway.

Whenever you host a program open to the public or to raise funds, maximize your impact by minimizing your fraternity’s name. As an example:

In 2010, our chapter did a “Hands for Haiti” event (our national philanthropy is the Red Cross) and raised roughly $600 for earthquake victims in Haiti. It wasn’t a bad outcome, and pretty solid for our school of 2,300 students. It was called “Delta Sigma Phi’s Hands For Haiti.” Do you know how many non fraternity men or women participated? Fewer than 10% of all participants.

The next year, tragedy struck in Japan. We pulled our name from the event. “Hands for Japan” was combined with a “Stetson For Japan” t-shirt you see above. “Delta Sig” was only mentioned when students asked who was raising the funds, but we sold $2,000+ worth of hand prints and t-shirts and were invited to sell the shirts at a benefit concert the University was putting on for the victims.

You become a part of the wider community when you downplay your exclusivity and, in turn, will have a higher turnout of un-affiliated students. You can even recruit some of them!

If your intent is to canoodle with your sorority friends, slap your name all over everything like an insecure C-list celebrity being in a Capital One card commercial. If your intent is to raise money or have a blow out event, make the program about the cause or person, and not about your letters. You’ll still get credit.

 

6. Your Officers/Chairmen

 

Your brothers will be much better off if you don’t pick up the slack. You are not their employee or their slave, you are the President or Vice President or Service Chairman.

If someone isn’t pulling his weight, expel him, suspend him, or let him fail. There is much more to be learned through failure than through someone picking up your slack, and your chapter will withstand the pain. Trust me. Let him fail, then remove him from his position. It’s the ultimate show of confidence and leadership.

 

That’s a taste of some of what we may expand upon in 2016 and a little review of what we’ve hit on in 2014 and 2015. There will be more posts providing suggestions/resources to students, more Q&A’s with the movers and shakers of Greek Life, and more op-eds/contributor posts that make FraternityMan.com the Devil’s Advocate Blog for Greek Life

Happy New Year!

2 Responses

  1. Can you elaborate (if you haven’t already in an earlier post) on point number six, about letting officers fail? I agree that failure is an important, but I also think that if success is obtainable with effort and dedication it should be worth pursuing.

    I can imagine a scenario where an ambitious, younger officer takes on too big of a project and is in over his head. What should the president/vice president/person who last held that officer position/other leaders of the chapter do? On one hand, it’s valuable learning experience for this officer if things don’t work out as he planned. On the other, shouldn’t ambition and new ideas be encouraged? If this young officer isn’t offered support I think it could have the effect of turning him away from fraternity leadership and making him apathetic. And while it’s not the responsibility of senior leaders to be slaves and employees, I do think they should offer mentorship and support and not leave the younger guys out to dry to teach them a lesson. I guess the point I have is that while I can see how failure can be useful for the young officer, I think being left to fail would be a net negative.

    Of course, it’s a different situation when an officer isn’t pulling his weight. So before an underperforming officer is removed, what sort of work should be done by the chapter leadership to try to get this officer back on the right track? When is it appropriate to remove an officer from their position? Who should have a say in whether the officer stays or goes? How would a leader of the chapter (probably the president here) go about removing an officer? And what should be done if there’s no interest from anyone to fill that position?

    • That’s a multi-part question, but yes I think the best approach is prevention (i.e. intervening or advising a younger officer to start smaller or delegate some tasks out). I see, in a lot of chapters, cases in which the President or Vice President are doing work for other positions because an officer/chairman/chapter brother is repeatedly unable to complete a task. That’s what I’m referring to here.

      I’d follow the saying, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” No person should allow oneself to be fooled twice.

      The questions you ask at the end seem to me to be inter-related, and I can’t give a definite answer because different fraternities have different rules in their constitutions or bylaws, but first the expectation needs to be clear to all members that what is expected of a position must be delivered on. Those expectations must be made clear to each man or woman who accepts a position. One strike should always be okay, people make simple errors. That officer/person should know then that if he fails to perform again the chapter/standards board/alumni board (whichever is granted such power in your by-laws) will have to decide if he/she is right for the position.

      In other words, the leaders of a chapter need to make things fair by being clear about expectations and repercussions early on and communicating through failures. We can always talk more through this if you’d like. Failure is a great lesson only if it’s followed up with an assessment (SWOT analysis or just sitting down and discussing what can be improved), but I don’t think it’s fair for a Vice President to take on the majority of someone else’s work and that person be able to keep his or her title. It paints an unrealistic picture for the working world.