getting accepted into ifc

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 love your info and read it all the time. Your book (The Fraternity Leader) is awesome and a definite must-read for all fraternity men. I wanted a little more one-on-one advice, if you could give it.

My colony is a great group of guys and our nationals is behind us 100% towards our chartering, but our school’s IFC and student life refuse to let us ‘on campus’. We are not recognized by either of these institutions and, therefore, cannot officially mix with any sororities or hold any official functions on campus.

There was a rule that there could only be one colony on campus at a time, which I think is a completely anti-freedom and anti-greek anyway, and when the other colony on campus finally chartered it came time for the school/IFC to ‘vote’ on who they would allow on campus next. We were already a colony of 15-20 guys, but they voted to bring on another group with a cold start recruitment, meaning they had no guys, no interest group, nothing.

My fraternity has done nothing to deserve this treatment by our IFC. In my estimation, IFC could see that we had the drive and national reputation to become a force on campus and this is the reason they voted the way they did.

We have been moving forward and making strides despite this setback. We are now a colony of 30 and are on course to charter. As you can see, we are doing what we can, but this issue has been a continued source of discouragement for our chapter. We are trying to do what we can to continue to support the Greek system and put ourselves in a positive light with them, but do you have any advice as to what we can do to help the situation? As always, your advice will be greatly appreciated.


Answer:

Thanks for the positive comments about the site and The Fraternity Leader.  I am glad you and your brothers are getting a lot out of them.

My chapter actually went through the exact same thing. We were chartered by our nationals the semester I became a brother, but we weren’t recognized until a year later.

It seems like you guys see this as a negative, but we turned it into a positive. We used it as a fuel to create an “us vs them” mentality with the other fraternities on campus. It helped us during recruitment, because we could honestly say we were different from the other guys. We had a chip on our shoulder, and it helped our young chapter build a strong foundation.

The only negative we saw is we couldn’t play intramural sports in the fraternity leagues. We had to play in the open league. Outside that there were no negatives.

Your sorority mixer issue should not be an issue. Invite a sorority to one of your functions. If they are hesitant to call it a mixer, then don’t call it a mixer. There is nothing wrong with inviting them over for a social function (we did plenty of times). Don’t get hung up on labels.

Also, don’t forget the added benefits of not having to pay IFC dues or abiding by their rules. Most schools don’t allow rush to happen until a few weeks into the year. You guys don’t have to abide by that. Your school may also have screwy social rules which you don’t have to abide by either. Be sure to take advantage of this situation.

That being said, I PROMISE you that sooner than later you will be accepted into IFC by invitation. They will see that you are kicking their butts in recruitment and they will want you as part of their organization. If you want to speed the process up, have a talk with the Greek Life Director and explain to him your concerns. He will be able to ‘coach’ the IFC president into being more receptive of the idea.

Finally, remember that fraternity is about YOU and your brotherhood. You don’t need acceptance from anyone else to become successful. If your brothers are having the time of their lives because of their association with the fraternity, then they won’t care if they are members of the IFC or the girl scouts.






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5 thoughts on “Our Fraternity Rocks, but Can’t get Accepted by the IFC. What’s Wrong?

  1. Quite frankly, I think there’s a simple solution to this problem. IFC is probably reluctant to add a new chapter to their campus for several reasons. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. They’re thinking another fraternity means:

    -More competition
    -Fewer socials with sororities
    -Fewer new men in my chapter’s recruitment class

    All you need to do is show them how it benefits them, their chapters, their members, etc. First, you’ll need to recruit quality men. Get your “colony’s” GPA up, get them involved and showcase HOW your colony can help the Greek community, image, etc. Pick one or two of your more social, outgoing men in your colony and invite each chapter president, IFC exec member, Greek Life Advisor, etc. to lunch. Do it on a one on one basis and ask them about their concerns. LISTEN to what they say. Show them that you’re not trying to come onto campus to ruin it for everyone else, you just want to add to the success and prestige of the Greek community. Then show them how your colony will help the community rather than hurt it. The personal outreach, providing them the opportunity to voice their concerns, and most importantly, LISTENING to them and their concerns will show your constituents that you’re good people with good intentions.

    If they get into logistics of expansion rules for IFC and what not, respectfully challenge the reasoning for the rule. Why can’t three successful colonies be added to the IFC? Chances are, if these colonies are working hard to earn the respect of the other chapters and members of the Greek community, it’s going to push the struggling chapters to raise their standards to match the colonies working so hard to impress everyone else.

    I come from a campus where we had 17 fraternities and 4 expansions in one year, three in the fall and one in the spring. What we found was exactly as I described; the struggling chapters either rose to the challenge, or their headquarters stepped in and offered a lot of support, seeing other colonies succeed. All four colonies that expanded are doing extremely well, the IFC GPA went up, average membership for chapters went up and our community grew from 6-7% of the undergraduate population to 10%.

    Remember though, IFC and other chapters are really only concerned with how it affects them, so keep things in terms they can understand that are relevant to their personal situations.

  2. Dennis, I agree with your last comment. And yes, I did learn that its not as straightforward or easy to bring a fraternity chapter on campus as much as we would want it. Not to mention I happen to be in that situation currently which I am in the process of attempting to bring this fraternity on my campus. Yet the reality as I have been told on both sides is about the same thing, its not straightforward and a slow process. Especially in the interest of the greek system as I happen to go to a school where its popular but not to the extent of the southern SEC schools (ex. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, NC, etc…) , I get that they do want to make sure it benefits them as well as the school and ensure that they would succeed.

    Even while there are existing options, I agree its probably better to go with these. Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be in the position to blindly rush and join one if I really do not align well with their value and culture personally. Especially at this point while Im in the process of basically “re-activating” this fraternity that existed a long time ago, it would be nice if I could see it come through which I hate to say but it may not work out too smoothly. Until then as fortunately I know of 2 fraternities that will be coming onto my campus in the fall (which I hope they aren’t rogue nor will they be as you described but rather have gone through IFC), Im not banking too much with this re-activation solely.

  3. Pat,

    Every school’s enrollment is different. It may be full of hippies or prep school kids, whites suburbanites or foreign exchange students, commuters or kids living at home with parents. Whatever it is, there’s a natural balanced percentage based on the makeup that will be willing to go Greek.

    Beyond that, social becomes a factor. If it’s a remote town with nothing to do unless you go Greek, then naturally the Greek community will be big, and vice versa.

    Most non-Greek are not that way for lack of opportunity. It’s not that all the chapters are full and hence too selective to give non-Greeks a chance. It’s that most of those people have zero to negative desire to go Greek. The Greek percentage will vary slightly but big moves in spite of the underlying factors are just about impossible. In other words, just because there is a large number of non-Greeks on campus doesn’t mean there is necessarily a large untapped market.

    When a new chapter comes on, they do somewhat recruit that untapped segment by selling that they will be a new/different kind of fraternity, be a founding father, and no pledgeship to speak of. As soon as they’re established, they revert to subdivision of the traditional rush pool. The overall number of men in fraternities will go up slightly, but chapter averages will go down to a greater extent.

    I absolutely do want to add more chapters to most campuses, but I want to do it in a responsible way.

    I want IFCs and universities to focus internally on making their current chapters strong &/or getting rid of consistent problem groups that can’t be salvaged.

    I want to grow chapter sizes. That makes a bigger leader pool and more campus impact. I want individual chapters to be able to do 16-20 social events a year, and do them the right way. I’d like to see them renting buses to a rented out venue the next town over 2-3 times a semester, do an overnight formal and local semi-formal, hire third-party vendors and security every single time they have a party at the house. That’ll keep you out of trouble, but it costs a ton of money. Based on the socioeconomic make up of your campus, the market will only bear so much in dues. It’s straight forward formula from there to what size do chapters need to be. If that’s not the chapter average on a given campus, then they should be focused internally rather than trying to add new chapters.

    I’m not saying never add chapters. I do want to add them. For sure if you’re at the optimal number of chapters for a given point in your development cycle then replace when one leaves. When you do decide to add more chapters, do it cautiously with a couple years between additions to make sure things stabilize before you take the next step. I know looking from the outside wanting to add a new group that can be a frustrating wall to face, but you have to protect the Greek system as a whole. If those individuals want to go Greek, there are existing options. Starting a new chapter has to be the right timing in-synch with the changing dynamics of the university and the evolutionary cycle of the IFC. Just trying to bulldoze your way in isn’t going to be well received by anyone.

  4. Dennis – agree with your most of your comment.

    However, I always think there is room for more chapters on nearly every campus. Most of the time the Greek population is 10% to 15% of the total student body. That means there is a huge untapped base of students to recruit from without hurting other chapters on campus.

    Going rogue isn’t the way to do it though.

  5. The solution here is easy. Be successful despite them and eventually they’ll just let you in because it’s better to have you controlled than not.

    This is screwed up though. I don’t know what national this is or why they would extend a colony without an IFC invitation. That’s brazen, and not in a good way.

    Fraternities can’t (or at least shouldn’t) colonize whenever and wherever they feel like. That would destroy Greek systems.

    A greek system with 100 chapters of 10 guys each is terrible, while one with 10 chapters of 100 guys each is very strong. It’s still the same 1000 guys, but there’s a big difference. When chapters are too small, they don’t have the resources to not only compete but operate according to the rules. It’s easy for a colony to breeze in and fill up with non-traditional recruits, but a couple years later they’ll be taking rushees from other chapters. That means those other chapters get smaller, weaker, less social budget, violating rules more often in a desperate attempt to compete in a cutthroat world. That’s not acceptable.

    IFC’s job is quality over quantity. They are supposed to be protective of the chapters they have, not add as many different chapters as possible. They want to strengthen and grow existing chapters over a period of many years. Only when the majority of chapters are as big as they want to get them, and the capacity coming in is so strong existing chapters can’t handle it (lots of rushees don’t get a bid anywhere), then you add colonies. When you do that you are cautious, selective, and meticulous. You select strong national organizations that align with the values of the school and Greek system, and who will put resources behind a local chapters. Normally that’s an older big national with stable finances and a lot of existing chapters in the state.

    This rouge colony got somehow got started without going through IFC. I don’t know how or why that happened. I don’t know, but I’d bet this colony has been having parties with girls and alcohol while IFC orgs were stuck behind strict formal rush rules. Maybe they targeted people going through formal rush as well versus recruiting outside the rush system the way most national expansion teams do. All that pisses off the people on IFC.

    You don’t have to like that, but I’m just trying to explain why they didn’t invite this group after the previous colony chartered and why they’re not going to be welcoming unless they don’t have any other choice. They probably want to sit back and let this rouge group die off. They may close expansion after this other colony charters just to ensure that happens.

    If there’s some way this group can do enough of the mea copa bit to get IFC to forgive them for breaking every possible rule up to this point, then that would be the best scenario. And talking to the Greek Affairs Director would be a really good place to start figuring out how to do that. As a chapter though, all they can do is continue getting bigger and stronger both internally and socially. They do need to make sure their national is going to let them charter without university/IFC recognition (that’s unusual). And do what they can to resolve any issues there.

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