I often encounter students and alumni who struggle to determine how they can be a benefit to their organization or who struggle to get members of the chapter “involved.”
This isn’t too uncommon, and I think the question and concern apply to many chapters of many fraternities and sororities. I often advise students to play to their member’s strengths.
An introvert who hates speaking at a recruitment event may not be of best use to your chapter at that event. But an introvert who loves to write may assist your chapter in recruitment by managing your chapter’s blog, news feed, social media accounts and newsletters.
Writing (typing in this case) can be a therapeutic experience. Just look at this website, it is clearly my therapy. Having an interest for writing or a gift in writing can also be a big boon to your chapter and national organization.
Here are some ways students and alumni can use writing to make a difference in the world of fraternity and sorority and tips to make their effort matter.
1. Start a Blog (Or Write For Another)
Maybe I am a bit biased, but blogs are the coolest development of the internet. They are a unique opportunity to build a writing portfolio and to track you or your chapter’s status over time.
We are often seen as elitist and secretive organizations. Open Up! Start a blog of your own or on your chapter’s website and update it fairly regularly. Write about experiences of chapter members, things you’ve learned while being a fraternity man or woman, and the partners you work with.
That last one is really important. To get others interested in fraternity and sorority, we must stop inflating our ego at others’ expense. It is not the DELTA SIGMA PHI [american red cross]
blood drive. It is a Blood Drive for the American Red Cross (Hosted by Delta Sigma Phi). Sharing information about the organizations and people your chapter works with, and making them the star of any publicity you offer, will encourage those partners to share a similar sentiment toward your chapter.
If starting a blog seems like too much of a hassle, write an occasional post for another blog. There are dozens of fraternity-related blogs out there! Heck, write something for FraternityMan.com if you’d like. Just make sure it’s all about liberty and student empowerment ;).
2. Write For Your Organization’s Publications/Website
Here’s a fun fact: Many chapters tell me that we don’t properly represent them in our publications, or that we favor some chapters over others.
The reality? We simply post what is shared with us.
There is an old saying that to get someone to do something the right way, push them completely off the cliff. Don’t give anyone an excuse not to do something they are supposed to do.
If your chapter did a fundraiser, or hosted an alumni event, or won an award, or was locally recognized, type up a press release or a story and share it with your national headquarter’s communications team. Ask about an opportunity to write for your fraternity or sorority’s magazine, newsletters, website or blog. If your organization lacks its own blog, or is suffering in the social media department, pressure them to step up their game!
Just be sure to keep in mind that we likely can’t or won’t share things about your rager or share photos with alcohol or unapproved hand-signs in them. That being said, a press release is your chapter’s best friend in getting things noticed. Learn to write one here.
3. Write First, Ask Later
Are you an alumnus with time on your hands or a student who is proud of what he’s done? Many times, folks will offer to write something and get lost in the shuffle, better to submit a finalized or near-complete product for your organization to use than to simply offer “whatever is available.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned managing a team of staff or working with our student chapters: Your directions should be clear and should not change willy-nilly.
Want to make a resource for your organization? Write it up and send it in. Just look at their other resources to make sure yours matches in language and style. The easier you make it for your organization to adopt, the more likely they are to adopt it.
Write articles for your organizations website or magazine and submit them. If you know of an interesting alumnus or an accomplishment from a chapter, write first, ask later.
The people at your headquarter’s communications team may not use everything you submit (that’s a reality of writing, get used to things flopping), but they’ll certainly appreciate the options.
4. Research & Record Your Chapter’s History
Do you have some time to spare on the weekends? Most colleges and universities have physical or digital archives; why not research your chapter’s history?
As we discussed here, some chapters have fascinating stories that should be written about and preserved for future generations. An alumnus of my fraternity, and past National President, now serves as our historian, and has used his retirement to explore a variety of archives, interview family members of our founders and research online. He’s completing a 5-volume history of our organization as I write this post.
If your chapter doesn’t have much of a history, or if it’s already been recorded, recruit a chapter historian who can actually write and get a job done and ask him to document your chapter’s successes, failures and learning moments throughout the year.
Things are more easily remembered when they are written down. The old tradition of an annual yearbook is less prevalent today, but should see a revival, especially when considering how easy it is to publish content online with websites like www.issuu.com.
5. Write Legislation
We created a whole page on this website to track how transparent fraternities (and eventually sororities) are with their governing documents and legislative processes.
You, the student and alumni members, have far more power than you know. Learn your organization’s process and begin drafting legislation and serving on committees. Most organizations hold a business meeting annually or biennially (every other year), and few see legislation proposed by standalone members of their organization.
If you want to challenge your organization’s transgender policy, or use of the word “pledge” or “new member,” or discuss how your dues are being spent, or discuss your organization’s direction and initiatives, make use of your rights as a member to write legislation or to write resolutions to start legitimate conversations where they matter.
It seems like making change within our organizations is as hard if not harder than getting something passed through Congress. . . that shouldn’t be the case.
If writing is your passion, there are a myriad of ways to get involved and institute change or to improve the member experience of your fraternity or sorority.
What are some of your suggestions? Include them in the comments below or tweet to @FraternityReads.