Our nationals went dry without our consideration in the matter a couple years ago. Since then, it has become increasingly hard to get new members. The house has been run into shambles. We live with mold, floor rot, no central electricity in any room, and gas leaks. Nationals has refused to help us or criticized us for being ungrateful when bringing up these issues. We aren’t happy with these authoritarian figures which have been giving us constant scrutiny. Many members are considering dropping. We are looking for creative solutions. Maybe asking another organization to open a chapter over ours? That may be a long shot, but if they were aware of a situation, they might feel empathetic.
It looks like you actually have multiple issues going on here, and not simply one problem. Let me address individually:
First and most pressing, is you have members considering dropping. Nothing speaks to the health of a chapter more than that. I sense that you believe that this sentiment stems from having a dry house. That could be the case, but regardless that is something you cannot control. What you can control is having an outstanding organization. There are a million things that you can do to have an outstanding fraternity, and still abide by that rule. Focus on what you can control, not what you cannot.
Second, sounds like the house is a mess. My first question is who owns the house? Ultimately, they are the ones responsible for fixing it. If it is owned by your National HQ, then by all means they are responsible. If it is owned by the university or private owner, same thing. And if they won’t fix it up to livable standards, stop paying your rent until they do. However, if the chapter or alumni own the house, then it is your responsibility. That means it is on you to figure out how to fix it up.
Third, you are having a hard time in recruitment. That isn’t surprising due to the two things already discussed. I would challenge you to figure out why people should join your chapter? Put another way, if you were a freshman, what would you be looking for in a fraternity? Whatever that is, build that. If you have a healthy organization, then recruitment will follow.
Finally, the dry policy. That is a tough one. I’m a black and white guy, so I will address it like that. If you want to stay a part of your fraternity, something you pledged a life-long commitment to, then you will have to abide by the policy. However, if your brotherhood simply cannot deal with it, then you can quit. The problem there is it will be very difficult to join another fraternity. Fraternities will not accept you if you have already been initiated into another organization. That leaves you with the option of joining or starting a local fraternity, which is no small undertaking.
My advice is to fix your fraternity. For better or worse, you made a commitment and real men honor their commitments. And all problems you described are solved by having a real strong chapter.
Some thoughts on where I’d start:
- Remember the first secret to running a healthy organization is having something to look forward to. Make sure there is always something that the brotherhood is excited about.
- Recognize there are issues, and the rebuild is a major undertaking. For the brothers who don’t want to be part of the rebuild journey, allow them to quit. Your situation demands having guys who are fully invested. Those that aren’t need to go.
- Get advice from your alumni and your university Greek advisor. Those are valuable resources who can assist you navigating your problem.
- Put some sweat equity in and fix what you can with the house. Ultimately, that is your home and the home of the fraternity. Take pride in it.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to dismiss how challenging your situation is. I completely understand that this will be no small undertaking. However, the life lessons you will learn and the personal satisfaction you will gain will be very rewarding, and will serve you well in your post-graduate life.
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