1. Posting Evidence on the Internet
Your fraternity will make mistakes. You will do things you aren’t supposed to do. As long as you don’t publicize it, you will probably have the chance to handle it internally and make it will go away. However, if you do something you aren’t supposed to, and your brothers post it on Facebook, you are leaving yourself wide open to get in trouble or have situations interpreted the wrong way. You can be certain the Facebook accounts of your members are being monitored. I have heard of chapters getting in trouble because they posted pictures of hazing, underage drinking, throwing parties while on probation, illegally initiating new members and breaking rush rules on Facebook. Of course these chapters deserve to get in trouble for doing these things, but they also deserve a black eye for being that dumb.
2. Doing Stupid Crap in Public
If you are going to be dumb, be dumb in private. Your brothers may think it is cute to do stupid things in public. The reality is the rest of the world will think you are probably hazing your new members. All it takes is the wrong person to report it as hazing (even if it isn’t) and your chapter is in a world of hurt.
3. Not Making Grades
It is tough for a fraternity that gets bad grades to survive. First, chances are the university or the fraternity’s national headquarters will put the chapter on probation for not making grades. This will hurt morale for the probation period. Second, if the members are struggling in school, attrition will be high. Brothers will flunk out or quit because of academics. This will put an incredible amount of stress on your fraternity.
4. Letting Parties Get Out of Hand
When your parties get out of control, the cops show up. When the cops show up, bad stuff happens. There are several things you can do to avoid this. First, have a sober brother responsible for the event. They have the authority to make whatever risk management decisions are necessary to keep the party under control. Second, hire security to work the party. This adds a third party and will significantly help your risk management credibility. Third, practice common sense before the party. Make sure the house is as safe as it can be. Be sure your neighbors are aware of the event, and give them the contact # of the brother in charge in case they have any issues. Don’t let a great time turn into a major headache.
5. Allowing Underage Drinking
I don’t agree with the drinking law being 21. I’ve been to Iraq and have seen 18 year olds get their arms blown off by IEDs. If you are old enough to go through that, you should be old enough to have a brew. Unfortunately, the law says otherwise. And if underage drinking happens on your property, then your fraternity is at risk. Realize that the person doesn’t even have to be caught underage drinking on your property for you to get in trouble. My chapter spent a semester on probation because girls were busted drunk in public. The cops asked them where they were drinking, and they said our fraternity house. Note they had big black X’s on their hands, but the school said it didn’t matter.
6. Fraternity Vandalism
I’m sure your brothers think that painting a rival fraternity’s lion is hilarious. They get an equal amount of enjoyment ‘borrowing’ a keepsake from another chapter house. Some brothers like to ‘acquire’ fire hydrants or stop signs to use a decoration for the chapter house. This type of thing can get out of hand real quick. The second the school or authorities hear about it, your fraternity will be in big trouble. They will see it as theft or vandalism. And realize that these types of folks do visit your house for inspections. Don’t give them an easy way to bust you.
7. Not Paying Dues
Your chapter has a responsibility to the national fraternity for membership dues. This money is used to run the fraternity and pay your insurance. If you decide not to pay it, your national headquarters will place you on some type of probation. You may think it is easy to ignore their probation because they are not local and cannot check on you. I promise you they will somehow find out (probably because your brothers will do some of the things on this list) and then you’ll be in a world of hurt. Don’t be a deadbeat chapter – pay your dues.
8. Attempted Humor Gone Bad
When a fraternity tries to bring TFM to their social program, they nearly always get in trouble. It is disgusting how politically correct the world is, but if your attempt at humor offends someone you will draw more negative attention than you would ever want. Don’t make your fraternity a target…
9. Drinking During Rush
Here’s the scenario – let’s bring a bunch of freshman strangers into the house and get them loaded with booze during a period when it is clearly against the rules and the law. Not only that, these same freshman strangers will be visiting our fiercest competitors who are only too eager to turn us in for rush violations. Don’t ever forget that freshman do dumb things, and freshman talk a lot. Yep, this sounds like a sound strategy….
10. Covering Up Your Mistakes
Your fraternity will do something dumb that you know will get out. If you try to cover it up, you will only make your punishment worse. Look at Jim Tressel. He didn’t get fired from Ohio State because his players got tatted up – he got fired because he lied about it to the NCAA. Look at Bill Clinton. He didn’t get impeached because he was a dirtbag who had an affair on his wife. He was impeached because he lied about it. How about Sean Peyton? He didn’t get suspended for a year because of bounty gate – he got busted because he lied about it to the NFL. The cover-up is always worse than the crime. If you make a mistake, be a man and come clean. Your honesty will always be rewarded.