‘The fraternity is a business’ is probably a popular saying around your fraternity house. On a few levels it is correct, but I personally hate the saying. It is almost always misused in a way to justify treating brothers poorly. Is that really brotherly?
Here is the typical scenario: A brother is doing a crap job. Another brother decides to call him on it, and becomes a complete jerk. His justification for being an ass is it is just business.
This was a typical saying in my chapter. I can remember once when a brother called for an impeachment vote on another brother because the brother wasn’t doing a good enough job in his elected position. Our chapter meeting that night turned into a referendum on his performance. Some brothers were pretty critical and ugly and justified it because ‘it was just business’.
And that justification is absurd. First off, that isn’t how brothers should ever treat each other. This brother ended up keeping his position, but was turned off from the brotherhood. His brothers were jerks in how they treated him, and he never forgot it. I can’t say I blame him.
Second, that isn’t how good businesses are run. In the real business world, if you treat a co-worker, subordinate, customer or supplier poorly, it will inevitably come back to bite you. If you make a habit of calling out others, you will get the label of being a poor team player. That is the kiss of death. Good businesses simply don’t function this way.
That being said, a fraternity has a lot of business-like responsibilities. Obviously, there is a significant amount of money involved, and that has to be handled professionally. Also, there is the house involved. That has to be run like a business. And don’t forget the standard organizational functions. All have to be handled ‘like a business’.
However, you cannot forget that a fraternity simply isn’t a business. The purpose is completely different. The purpose of a business is to make money. A fraternity has many purposes, namely developing leadership and fostering brotherhood. Turning a profit is not one of them.
Whenever the ‘fraternity is just a business’ situation comes up, don’t forget the purpose of your fraternity. Let that guide how you handle your responsibilities and how you treat your brothers. Don’t forget you are part of a relationship organization. If you damage the individual relationships you have with your brothers, then you will be left with a pretty hollow fraternity.
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