fraternity in a rut

Question:

My chapter has been the “big dogs” on campus for quite some time, and complacency has become a huge problem. We are quickly descending as a campus powerhouse and, as the chapter president, I am the only one who notices it.

How would you go about motivating the majority of the chapter to help out a struggling Exec board that has been carrying the weight on their shoulders for a few semesters now?

Answer:

The view from the top of the mountain can be lonely.

Many great chapters work their asses off to get to the top.  When they get there, two things typically happen:

The guys who made it happen are burnt out then they graduate.  The guys who they recruited to replace them don’t have the same experience and thus don’t have the same drive.  They become complacent and believe their spot on campus is their right and not a position that is to be earned.

This is a shame.  Great chapters don’t rest on their laurels, they focus on getting better.

It sounds like your chapter needs some direction.  This direction should provide the motivation to prevent the slide that you fear may be happening.

The best part about all these suggestions I am about to give is they don’t need to be implemented by the executive board.  Leadership can come from anyone in the chapter who is motivated to make their chapter better.  If you have that motivation, you can be the one who turns the fortunes of your chapter around.

I suggest doing one or multiple of the following ideas to get your chapter out of the rut you are in:

1)      Plan a big event – Plan a formal, a huge party, a road trip or any other type of big event.  The event needs to be something that the brotherhood really wants to do.  Having this event will accomplish a few important things.  One, it will give the brothers something to look forward to and get excited about.  That is very important.  It will also give the brothers something to work on together.  It will give you a great reason to create some awesome fraternity clothing.  Finally, it will provide a good time, which sounds like is something you guys need.

2)      Have more fun — Too often, when successful chapters get stuck in a rut they stop having fun.  When fraternity stops being fun, it seems like work.  Brothers are more apt to not come around if the fraternity seems like work.  Have more brotherhood events, both planned and unplanned.  Make sure you guys are having fun again.  This often will solve a lot of your problems.

3)      Have a retreat – If you feel like your chapter is in a rut, chances are other brothers feel the same way.  Have a retreat away from campus where the brotherhood can discuss what you are really about.  Set goals, make plans.  Get passionate about fraternity again.

4)      Let the fresh blood lead – Chapters that find themselves in a rut often have a generation of leadership that won’t let go.  If that happens, give more responsibility to the young guys who are eager to take their next step in the chapter.  Often, this young enthusiasm is exactly what you need to get back on track.

5)      Give Back – You are pretty fortunate to be a top dog on your campus regardless of the motivation level of your current brotherhood.  It sometimes helps to put things in perspective by doing something to help others.  Do something good for others – this is what a top fraternity does.

6)      Improvement comes from small victories – Often in life, people get stuck because they are fixated on landing the big win.  They are seeking a dramatic improvement and they expect it to happen all at once.  That is not how life works.  You get better through the accumulation of small victories.  Do something tangible today that will make your fraternity better.  Encourage others to do the same.  These small victories will create a winning attitude in your chapter, and will lead to bigger accomplishments.

7)      Talk about fraternity more – If your fraternity is in a rut, chances are the flow of ideas has stopped.  It has stopped because the late-night BS sessions on the porch of the house don’t happen as often as it used to.  Or because brothers aren’t up in the dorm rooms trying to figure out how to make your chapter the best.  Facilitate these conversations with your brothers.  This will lead to more brothers talking about fraternity.  By having more brothers talking about fraternity, more great ideas will come to light.  Making these ideas turn into action will give your fraternity the shot in the arm you desire.

8)      Partner with a weaker chapter on campus – If your chapter is in a rut, chances are you are lacking a bit in chapter pride.  You need something that shows your brotherhood how good you really are.  Have a community service event or athletic event with another chapter at your school.  Your goal is to have a good-natured event that shows your chapter how good you really are.  It is a shame that people need to compare themselves against others to realize they are good, but it is a fact of life that this works.

9)      Have a mixer with a sorority – A mixer is the perfect bonding experience.  It is a shared experience you cannot get if you are not a brother.  This is the type of occasion that brothers will look forward to and will add some life into your chapter.

10)   Have an alumni reunion – One of the best things you can do if your chapter is in a rut is have some of the old guys come back and remind the chapter of where they came from.  Your chapter history is important and should be celebrated often.  You can have a formal alumni event, or you can invite a few alums over for beer and mentoring.  Regardless, hearing the stories of conquests of yesteryear will inspire the current crop of brothers to out-do the stories they are told.  This will light a fire under your brotherhood.

11)   Recruit better – If you fraternity is slipping, chances are the quality of the membership can be improved.  You need to find motivated leaders to help get the chapter back on track.  Find these guys, and they will help you solve your problem.

12)   Learn more about fraternity.  There are many great resources out there like this website.  Read as much as you can.  Also talk to your chapter advisor and Greek advisor.  Talk to your national headquarters.  Talk to older brothers who took your chapter to the top of the mountain.  You cannot lead your chapter back to greatness unless you understand the steps necessary to get it there.  The easiest way to learn is by getting advice from those who have been there before…

This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice

 

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