Brothers from a fraternity in Illinois read my article Should We Have Two Fraternity Recruitment Classes a Semester and informed me that they had recently made this change. They allowed me to interview them about how the process is working out for them. Below is what they said:
1) Why did you guys make the change to two recruitment classes per semester?
The change to two classes was originally motivated by an effort to recruit more quality men while maintaining the smaller class sizes that had been tradition in our fraternity.
This change was complimented by a shortened membership education program (6 weeks) that we could repeat in a semester.
2) What successes have you had?
The biggest positive note of this change comes in continuing the momentum of fraternity recruitment through the passion of the new associates. Early on in the membership education process the associates learn about the recruitment process and utilize it reach out to other new freshman and sophomores that are likely outside of our normal sphere of influence.
The smaller class sizes maintain the strong bonds between the associates. We have also found that the more concise program enables us to focus on academics and other extracurricular commitments – something that we highly encourage.
While we were unable to formally start a second round of membership education we have been able to maintain consistent contact with potentials and their friends.
Maintaining this momentum has been so vital. As a result members have integrated the importance of meeting new people and generating names into their daily routine.
3) What difficulties have you had?
The transition to this new system has taken time– we were not able to fit in an entire member education due to time it took to implement the new changes. We have however will be pre initiating the next class whose member education will begin immediately in the spring.
Our new program also really demands for continual recruitment, which is a good thing, but the adjustment in keeping members motivated throughout the semester has sometimes been daunting. We have had to focus more upon small opportunities and more informal events to maintain relationships and generate names. Tabling – something ubiquitous to our chapter – has been an important part of this process.
We are about to face the completely new territory of recruiting over breaks in semesters. With it will come more obstacles– the summer may be particularly difficult in our area. We may refine our recruitment to three classes over the two semesters Fall/winter/spring.
4) How did two recruitment classes impact the rest of your new member program?
The 6 week program put more demand on our membership education and ritual team but it appears to be a stress that they will be able to handle. We still will need to figure out the timing of the second program and I week — whether it will overlap with the first program or begin immediately after.
At this point I’ve begun to think we really should transition to a “classless” or at least less class based membership education program. The program would be similar to how Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Balanced Man program works but shorter in length.
Revolving regular membership education would occur, for all members not only associates, focusing upon our 5 tenets of class, our philanthropy Push America, and an additional portion spent on history of the fraternity.
Important rituals would be spread throughout this time period. When all of these portions are met an associate could then be voted upon for the next initiation date. Classes would still happen but much more informally as groups of friends or associates decide to begin the process together.
This is a radical departure from our current status quo and would require overcoming obstacles that we cannot forsee — But given the informal nature of our university’s recruitment it would be a perfect fit and eliminate the organizational stress of holding back to back/overlapping formal associate membership classes.
5) Would you recommend having 2 classes to other chapters?
I would, regardless of having formal recruitment or not there are almost always dead periods of time when a chapter is not recruiting. I would also challenge younger chapters to look into a classless revolving membership education program– It really appears to be the new horizon of where membership education and recruitment is going.
Our biggest obstacle is the barriers formed by the tradition we feel obligated to maintain with our system of classes. A fall/winter/spring system may be best for my chapter. Regardless of the chapters situation I would urge chapters and their leaders challenge the one class per semester system.
Each organization will have its own unique set of both obstacles against and opportunities for recruitment. Take advantage of what is normally those periods of little activity and continue recruiting– so many potential members are simply lost from lack of contact during the mid-semester lull.
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