Case Study: What Fraternity Would I Join at the University of Idaho?

Idaho Kappa Sigs

I received a question recently from a reader about what fraternity he should he rush at the University of Idaho.

At first, I blew off his question because how the hell should I know???  Then, I thought about it some more and realized that this would make a great case study.

What I did was put myself in the shoes of a new student at Idaho.  I tried to decide how they would go about deciding what fraternity to rush.  This made for an interesting case study which I think will help a lot of fraternities learn how to better market themselves.

Realize that the only access I had to Idaho Fraternities was what was online and email.  By no means am I saying which fraternity is the best because I honestly have no clue.  However, I do have a pretty good idea which fraternities markets themselves the best, and these chapters at Idaho have a leg up on their competition during rush.

Where to Start

The very first thing I did was google “Idaho Fraternity”.  This pulled up the Idaho Greek Life Page which included a description of every fraternity.  I assume this description was written by the chapter.  I read through all of those quickly to narrow my list of who I would investigate further.

Here are my quick thoughts on the write-up of every Idaho fraternity:

  • AGR – Nothing stands out in the write- up.  Very bland description of what every fraternity does.
  • AKL – Yellow Rose Formal and Neanderthal Ball sound interesting.  4 straight Founders awards – impressive.
  • ATO – Very bland write-up outside runner-up for the True Merit Award.
  • Beta Theta Pi — $5000 in scholarships.  Awards very outdated.
  • Delta Sig – Brothers Pumpkin Carving?  Fall Cruise, Pledge Dance, Carnation Formal, The Sailor’s Ball and Founder’s Day dinner listed as social events.  Seems to have a lively social calendar.
  • Delta Tau Delta — Required study halls.  Scholarships awarded $12,000.
  • Farmhouse – Required study halls.  Very committed to scholarship.  Tons of social events.  Information presented well – bullet points made it easy to pick out what is important.
  • FIJI – First in grades 3 times the last six years.  No required study halls.  Scholarship of $250 for every brother who gets over a 3.0.  Black Diamond Formal, Secret Sweetheart, Valentine’s Day Dance, Purple Garter and Islander are all social events – very interesting.  Chapter advisor of the year for two years.
  • Kappa Sig – Very descriptive of social events.  House Party sounds like a really awesome tradition.  Founder’s Award for a top Kappa Sig chapter 4 years in a row and best maintained house.
  • Lambda Chi – Very strong scholarship program.  Donated almost 3 million pounds of food – amazing community service achievement.  Two of the last three student body presidents were from Lambda Chi.
  • Phi Delta Theta – Carol Howe Foster Scholarship is incredible – $8000 awarded to all seniors who meet certain attainable objectives.  Turtle Derby held since 1957 raises $2000.  All awards listed are 10 years old.
  • SAE – Huge alumni base that is very active.  House sounds awesome.  Pledge classes bond by sleeping on the same porch?  $5000 in scholarships.  Fall Violet Ball formal held since 1919, Bowery Dance, Paddy Murphy Picnic, Sig Alpha Olympics – all sound like a lot of fun.   Exec members paid $5000 in room and board – wow.
  • Sigma Chi – Active in sports – rafting, road trips to games, Turkey Bowl football game, skiing at Big White Mountain.   Study hall mandatory for guys who need it.   Most outstanding Chapter Award.
  • Sigma Nu – Info is old – from the mid-90s.  White Rose formal sounds interesting.
  • Theta Chi – Good presentation. Bullets and short descriptions make it easy to follow.  Looks like there are a ton of events that look both fun and great to give back to the community.  Dream Girl Cruise sounds awesome.  6 national awards given the past 8 years.  Highest GPA in the Spring of 2012.

Narrowing the List to 5

From there, I feel like I almost knew enough about the different fraternities to narrow my list to five.  But I went one step further.

I emailed every fraternity at Idaho and asked them what made them different than other fraternities on campus.  Of course, there were some fraternities that I could not find their contact info on their webpage.  They got left out.

Only two fraternities responded to my email – Beta Theta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi.  Seeing that they actually took an interest in what I am doing, they immediately jumped onto my top five.  If I was actually rushing – this would always be the case.  A very high percentage of guys join the first fraternity they come in contact with.

My next step was to check the websites and Facebook pages of my top five Idaho fraternities to learn more about them.

Here are the five that made the list and my thoughts:

  • Delta Sig – 10 man pledge class this fall seems solid.  Pictures all of Bike to Boise.  House looks good on Facebook.  Only two pictures though – doesn’t tell much about the chapter.  I was really hoping to see more pictures of the social events they had listed on the university page.  They were the first to respond to my email, which meant a lot to me.  Their email showed the passion that one brother has for his fraternity, and it definitely made me feel like this is a very strong chapter.
  • FIJI – Pig dinner sounds awesome.  Not sure why it wasn’t mentioned earlier.  Great tradition.  Webpage has no pictures and not much information.  Couldn’t find Facebook Page.   I am pretty disappointed with the lack of information available.  After reading FIJI’s write-up on the university page, I expected them to be the top fraternity at Idaho.  Now I have no idea…
  • Kappa Sig – House looks awesome.  Very good description of the house social traditions.  Facebook page is ok.  A bunch of pictures, but nothing that really stands out.  75 pictures of flag football from different angles doesn’t do much for me.  These guys seem to have a strong relationship with Kappa Kappa Gamma, which can’t be a bad thing…
  • SAE – House looks good – chapter looks strong.   Great assortment of pictures on Facebook.  Party picks show that the fraternity knows how to have a good time.  There is no way to contact the chapter online.  There are no email addresses listed and no online form to contact the chapter.  This makes it too difficult to get more information.
  • Beta Theta Pi – Beta would not have made the top five if they did not respond to my email.  Their write-up on the university page was bland and outdated.  It did nothing to show how awesome a chapter they are.  I wouldn’t have investigated them further if they hadn’t responded to my email.  However, in their email they shared that they are the largest fraternity on campus.  They were first in grades ten out of the last twelve semesters and first in intramurals the last five years.  Beta Rave is a huge party they have which is extremely popular.  Since they sent me an email – I checked out their webpage.  Their webpage is the best of all Idaho Fraternities.  They have a ton of awesome pictures of guys and girls having a really great time.  Their Facebook leaves a lot to be desired.  I don’t’ know why they don’t have more pictures up there.

Who I’d Rush

I would rush Kappa Sig, Beta Theta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi.

These guys did the best to market themselves, and I’m pretty confident they are among the top fraternities on campus if not the top. If they aren’t, they did the best job of marketing themselves, which is the main lesson to be learned in this case study.

What I Learned

1 – This is a visual world.  Quality pictures that show the fraternity having a good time will do more to sell your fraternity than anything else.  You want potential new members to be able to see themselves having fun as a brother in the chapter by doing a wide assortment of activities.  There should never be a shortage of great pictures since everyone has a cell phone camera.  The fraternity who has the best pictures online will often make the best first impression on potential new members.

2 – Creative descriptions on the Idaho University Greek Life page are key to peaking interest.  This is the first place where a large percentage of potential new members will be introduced to your chapter.  If the event has a title, for some reason it seems to stand out better and it sounds more fun.  This is a great marketing ploy that several of the Idaho fraternities do very well.

3 – Don’t include dates.  It can only hurt you if you don’t update it in the future.  A few chapters listed awards won – but did not include the date.  Since they did that, it was assumed to be recent even if it wasn’t.  However, the chapters that won awards in the past, regardless of how prestigious they were, will get knocked in the eyes of potential new members because of old dates.

Final Thoughts

Obviously I know next to nothing about each chapter at Idaho.  Hell, I’ve never even been to Idaho.  Everything I know about fraternities at Idaho I learned from what they share online.

Your online profile is the first glimpse most outsiders will have into your fraternity.  Your chapter website and Facebook have one purpose – to be an extension of your recruitment efforts.  This is one of your most important marketing tools – it should never be neglected.

Anyone who is interested in joining a fraternity should check out my book – How to Join a Fraternity.  This tells you everything you need to know to find the right fraternity and make sure you get a bid.

For those of you looking to improve your fraternity, please check out my book The Fraternity Leader – The Complete Guide to Improving Your Chapter.  Chapter 2 is titled “How to Use Your Fraternity Website to Supercharge Recruitment.”  This chapter will describe everything you need to do to make sure your online presence makes you stand out from the other fraternities on your campus.  This book is a must read for any Greek Leader.

If you are interested in me doing a case study of your school or your chapter – please let me know.

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