We Don’t Get A Rise When You Close

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The administration is against you, your fraternity or sorority adviser is against you, your national headquarters is against you, and the only people by your side are the brothers and sisters funneling beer into your system and alumni preaching dated practices from a far less politically-correct time.

There is a lot that goes into making the decision to close a chapter; none of it is pretty.

For the amount of time students spend whining that their headquarters cares only about money, they seem to ignore how much it must hurt a money-hungry organization to close its primary sources of revenue.

This academic term was tough. Mix draconian traditions with adult men and women acting like children and you find the fall of 2014. Okay, it’s not just the fall of 2014, dozens of men and women have lost their lives due to fraternity and sorority activities for years. Despite being the number one activists and spenders in hazing prevention, we are still popularly considered its poster-child.

This stuff isn’t just tough for you students. As much as the media is out to get you, the administration is out to close you and other students are out to prove that you are irrelevant and out-dated, we too are dealt lawsuits, feel pain and suffer when fewer are exposed to the benefits of fraternity and sorority life. We lose donations to our educational foundations. We lose revenue used to hire professional staff members and to maintain programs. Most importantly, we lose brothers and sisters. Closure is a last resort. Always. So let’s just review why we don’t want to close our chapters; let’s review what is at stake.

Despite being the number one activists and spenders in hazing prevention, we are still popularly considered its poster child 

Fraternity and sorority is, for many of us, a permanent fixture in life. It is how some of us make a living, feed our families, donate back to our foundations and how we hope to build our organizations into recognized contributors to society and college life rather that a joke in a terrible Seth Rogan movie. (Honestly, that movie was terrible)

My job is to bring my fraternity back to some institutions and get started at others; I try to get more men involved in Delta Sigma Phi and fraternity life. The more negative press we get and the more chapters we close, the harder I need to work to convince folks that men should have the choice to affiliate with an organization that has changed my life. . . I’m sorry, did it come across that when I say “we” I mean my specific fraternity?

Any lawsuit, any negative press, any closure of any chapter of any fraternity hurts my chances to get more great men wearing fraternity letters. Any of the aforementioned turns our potential volunteers and donors away. Any of the aforementioned makes it harder to be taken seriously as a fraternity man or sorority woman in the 21st Century.

You think we’re all about money? Let’s think about it like a business:

A chapter of fifty men would bring in $20k-$30k each year for the average fraternity if you combine dues, new member fees/dues and insurance costs. I’m making an estimation of $200-$300 in dues per academic term.

. . . Any closure of any chapter of any fraternity hurts my chances to get more great men wearing fraternity letters.

From conversations with friends at other fraternities, I’d put the average cost of an expansion (when a fraternity reopens a closed chapter or opens a new chapter) between $10k and $20k. That’s the cost to put staff members on the ground for 5-6 weeks (including salary, housing and food/supplies). It doesn’t include thousands more spent to fly additional staff out for training, for initiation or to offer enhanced training opportunities to new chapters. Over the course of 2-3 years, opening a chapter may cost upwards of $40,000.

If a chapter of fifty is closed for four years, a fraternity would lose up to $120,000 in revenue. The cost of re-opening that chapter would be another $40,000 of other chapters’ dues. How does that feel? I bet when you tell a potential member “any of these guys would have my back” you don’t mean to say, “If a guy 1,000 miles away hazes the hell out of a guy, you’ll help us pay $40k to get their chapter back.” From this point forward, if any chapter of your fraternity or sorority closes, think, “They just cost me and my organization $160,000 in programs and benefits in addition to dozens of potential members”

Headquarters aren’t the only ones who lose. Your brothers who are expelled lose, your neighboring chapters lose, your Greek community loses and anyone who has dedicated even a fraction of their life to making fraternity and sorority relevant loses.

That’s the tip of a deep iceberg.

Future generations of Americans lose bright minds and potential influencers in culture, business, education and medicine. Parents lose children they’d have given their lives for. . . . Parents lose children they’d have given their lives for.

Little could compare to speaking with an alumnus about the closure of his chapter in my position. Grown men confide in me and tear up knowing their chapter may not reopen in their lifetime. They know I wasn’t the one to close it; they know that I wasn’t the one who took hazing a little too far in 1995, but as a representative of the national organization, some hate me as if I did.

Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.

– John Wayne

 

It’s tough to convince any young man that the decisions he makes may have serious, negative ramifications, particularly if those decisions are made in the mindset of having fun or building relationships. I’m not quite sure I know how to effectively do it.

If I can’t effectively reason why more care should be taken when throwing mixers, why you should follow the rules or why those rules are in place, I hope that I have reasoned why closing a chapter degrades the fraternity experience for all men and women who have taken an oath to be better. Make good choices; you are smart enough not to need me to tell you to do it.