This could possibly be the most telling thing that can happen to your chapter. If your best friends, the guys who you hang out with and know the chapter inside and out, do not want to join, what does that say about your organization?
My best friend during college never joined the fraternity despite constant asking each semester. He was around the fraternity for years. He attending every party and had a good relationship with everyone in the chapter. Heck, he even made very good friends with the guys I was closest with. We offered him a bid nearly every semester, but he never accepted.
When we pestered him, he admitted he wanted to be a brother, but did not want to go through the BS to become one. He felt that he was too old to pledge. He always said if we would have asked him his first semester, he would have joined and loved it. Since that moment passed though, there really wasn’t any benefit to him joining. He already attended all the parties. He hung out with the guys every weekend. What was the benefit of him joining and paying dues?
We always chalked missing on that guy up to bad timing. If we were more observant, it would have challenged the very core of our organization. First, he didn’t want to go through the BS of pledging. He was able to witness it as an outsider for many semesters. If he didn’t want any part of it, what did that say about our pledge program? Second, he didn’t see the benefits of joining to be any greater than what he already had. In hindsight, that showed that the brothers in my chapter were cheating themselves. There should be definite, visible benefits to joining a fraternity. If we did not have those, than we are all at fault.
Instead of taking this valuable information and transforming the way we ran our chapter, we let him know we were disappointed and moved on. I am sure the chapter still operates in a similar manner to what it did when I was an undergraduate. I am sure there are many brothers who could tell this same story. Don’t let your chapter miss out on great guys because of the reasons we missed out on my friend.
Challenge traditions if they are detrimental to your recruitment efforts. Don’t every settle for missing out on a guy who you believe will become a great brother.
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