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.
When I had pledged over a year ago, I was essentially sold a falsified dream. In this illusion, we were promised strong brotherhood, outstanding academics, success within the classroom and preference from all of the sororities. Upon crossing, we realized it was all a lie.
Now, one year later, I serve as my fraternity’s vice president. Within the next semester, I intend on running for fraternity president. While we have certainly made strides to improve, the quality of the men that we have taken within the last year to put it blunt, is garbage. The pledge father and president believe in the notion of “quantity” over “quality,” and have thus doubled the size of our fraternity while keeping the standards of quality at bar none.
In this time, we’ve won many awards, raised money and have maintained a better presence on campus. Yet still, our brotherhood is by far the worst. Because of such low quality of men, there are many factions within the organization. In essence, we have developed from a fraternity to a social clique in which trust is at an all time low.
While I understand pledging better quality of men is the ultimate solution to this problem, I ask…what is to be done of the failures and degenerates that plague our organization today? Clearly, we cannot simply “kick” people out (or can we?). But in the absence of this mechanism, how can I improve the brotherhood without mere material persuasions (meaning, bribing them to do things etc.).
Perhaps my question is not focused. What I need to know in essence is what can be done to fix the current problems with unproductive, shady, degenerate brothers that swear by the letters that they wear, yet do nothing productive nor cooperate in times of need.
The problems you describe are not about the men in your chapter. All your problems result from the lack of a clear expectation of what your fraternity is all about – meaning this is a leadership problem. Let me explain…
From your question, it seems as if your fraternity once had a problem recruiting new members. Since your fraternity doubled in size, I imagine that recruitment became the chapter’s number one priority. It is very impressive and no easy task that your fraternity doubled in size, so your brothers must have really taken to heart the goal of recruiting more members.
Now your fraternity is transitioning to new priorities. Recruitment is no longer the focus. Has the new leadership team shaped a vision for the brothers? Does each brother understand what is expected of them by being a member of the fraternity? I know the answer is no, because otherwise you wouldn’t have the problems you described.
For your fraternity to improve, your fraternity’s leadership team needs to sit down and set clear expectations for the brotherhood. These expectations will be centered on what is important to your chapter. Obviously, the input from all brothers is needed to shape the proper vision, but it is up to the leadership team to implement it.
More important than setting the expectations though is making sure the brothers are held accountable to these expectations. Members of elite organizations hold each other accountable to high standards. If you want your fraternity to reach the elite level, this is a necessary step.
Finally, there are going to be brothers that do not agree with this approach. Those brothers are a cancer to your fraternity. If they do not want to be part of the vision, then more times than not they will quit. If they don’t quit though, the brotherhood has to have the fortitude to expel these brothers.
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