How Do You Make Fraternity Brothers More Brotherly?

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.

Question:

I am a new advisor to a national fraternity! The guys are great, but could be a bit more brotherly. Do you have any brotherhood retreat ideas?


Answer:

Welcome to the world of being an advisor! It brings with it many challenges, but I know has reminded me and reaffirmed for me all of the reasons why my fraternity experience was so valuable.

Being more brotherly is such an abstract problem that does not have the same formulaic approach to fixing as say recruitment or even new-member education. There are so many little things that go into creating strong, lasting bonds between brothers that I could write for days. Still, I will soldier on to see what we can do to help you in your situation.

I am a big believer in the power of the chapter house. It should always be at capacity and it should be buzzing with activity. This is a huge challenge as it places a financial burden on many and in the case of my fraternity, we did not allow alcohol on our property.

However it can work with your group, try to find a way to incentivize or maybe even require members to live in the house. We had a requirement and it was only needed a few times. We have looked at a dues incentive, a residency requirement for certain positions, and programming just for in house brothers.

Sometimes, directly tackling the problem can work well. We used team games and activities to challenge brothers to compete and cooperate with one another on something other than recruitment and socials. Bonds can be formed through problem solving and flag football all the same.

One other activity was a twist on a mediation circle where brothers took turns reflecting on certain key issues in the chapter and provided a safe forum to share their views without fear of consequences. As long as everyone respected the guidelines (no interrupting, judging, etc), this process allows your men to let their guard down and allow those brotherly bonds to form.

I also believe that how a chapter approaches their ritual reflects how they approach one another. If ritual is performed with no intent, with no purpose and no energy, how do you think your men will act towards one another?

To me, chapter attendance and meeting efficiency also relate to ritual. More directly, ritual practices are supposed to be symbolic of the values of the fraternity and the reflection of those who created it. Ritual is supposed to be held in high regard. If your members treat ritual as just something they have to do, then that is how they will approach one another.

There is no quick fix for this. It is a longer road than many in our current generation would like. Creating stronger brotherly connections will take some time, but if you allow those growing pains to be worked through and those hurdles to be cleared, you’ll find your membership will be better for it.

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.

This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!






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One thought on “How Do You Make Fraternity Brothers More Brotherly?

  1. Recruiting SOCIAL guys, having a strong pledge process, and an active house are what I’ve found to be the best boosters of brotherhood. It’s not a retreat that will save you, because you end up preaching to the choir. Let’s be honest, you’re trying to make a brotherhood more brotherly, the very basis for a brotherhood. There is a deep seeded problem that needs to be dealt with. Teaching selflessness during pledgeship has to be one of the best things you can do to fix this problem.

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