Below is a list of 300 potential situations that sorority and fraternity presidents may face. This list is a compilation of ideas given to me by readers on my newsletter (Sign up here – it’s free).
I address how presidents should handle these situations in my new book – The Chapter President: Preparing Sorority and Fraternity Leaders for the Unexpected (Now available through Amazon).
I’m very excited about this book and think it will become a critical resource for all Greek Presidents. The greatest benefit of this book is it will help you prepare for unexpected situations that can cripple your chapter and ruin your presidency. If your chapter has problems with any of the issues below or if you are serious about leading your chapter, please check out my new book:
300 Situations Sorority and Fraternity Presidents Must Overcome
1) I think the most difficult day-to-day situations are communication and accountability. Instant communication does not necessarily make things more clear and can (and has) led to misunderstandings that can fester and cause inter-chapter conflict. Committee discussions or meetings should not be held via text or Facebook messaging. Accountability is a little more difficult. A president doesn’t want to come across as a dictator but does need to make sure the officers and chairmen fulfill their duties to the chapter, the campus, and the inter/national office. It can be a fine line. The president is ultimately the person responsible when members’ dates are out of control and cause issues or problems at events.
2) One issue that may take all the tact and diplomacy skills a president can muster is the Peter Pan alums. I’ve come across two forms of them – the ones who just won’t grow up and want to relive their chapter experiences all over again, and the ones who want the chapter to stay the way it was when they were involved and will try to do anything to keep it that way. Either type can be detrimental to chapter morale and cohesion.
3) The most difficult out of the ordinary situations are serious illness or death of a member. As unfair as it may be, the chapter is going to look to the president to keep things together. I’ve had two chapters in my geographic region (New Jersey) in the last dozen years that have had to support members diagnosed with cancer, and ultimately deal with the deaths of those members. I’ve also had chapters in Pennsylvania and New York that have had to deal with members killed in car accidents. Chapter presidents have to be able to maintain themselves and their chapters. It can test even the best leader.
4) First of all, the growth and development is dependent upon how organized you and your chapter are. That why I always preached to the associates when I was in charge of new member education ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, and then organize before. Before I took the office of President our chapter had a major problem with attendance to important events such as rush events, philanthropy, community service, ritual, and other very important events for them to attend along with when exam week was, when bills were due etc . With us being a small chapter it was terrible, and it looked terrible on us. The big thing that helped us to get on track was google docs. We were able to set-up a calender of events and have a public folder where we could put documents that people needed. Things such as our tax exempt form, an up to date chapter roster with current contact info for each member, and other important information. We require each member to have a gmail account. With the callender being on google, they could have it updated to their phone in seconds. Then we set-up a bi-law that held member accountable for check the google calender. Since then we have at least 85% participation and our community service went from nearly zero to an average of 6.5 hours per member. The more organized you are the better off your chapter will be.
5) Another way in which I like to stay organized and to better the future of your chapter. Have every exec member write down a guide out of the responsibilities they had to fulfill while in their executive position. This would include what they did, how they did it, important dates, negative and positives of their role in that position, and what worked and didn’t work. Load that up on your google docs and have the person in that position each year add to it. A key to life is learning from your mistakes and your success and help future generations to learn from your personal story as well. This could really help chapters to avoid mistakes, and we just started that this year.
6) The job of the President is to make sure that your chapter is run safely, people are treated fairly through the bi-laws, and to hold your executive board accountable. There are a lot of politics involved try not to let the drama and responsibility overwhelm you. If you let it get to your head, and you don’t properly distribute work amongst your actives. If you don’t you will have a very stressful term.
7) Learn as much as you can especially about positions you may not understand. Before I ever served on an executive board I held rush, community service, fundraising, and alumni relations. Then I only held new member education which is an executive position at my chapter. After that I immediately jumped into President. One area I didn’t understand was finance which I held a lot of trust in my finance officer, so I would never question him. Then we had a couple of big expenses come up at one time. When our alumni came to me and asked how much money we had, I had no clue what’s so over. I looked terrible, and I had no clue what was even going on. I would say that finances are something that you should be talking with your Executive VP of Finance almost every week knowing where your chapter is financially.
8) I started off at a big campus fraternity at the University of Missouri and then transferred over to University of Missouri at the end of my sophomore year. One of the biggest things that fraternities like to do is fine people when they break a bi-law or don’t attend an event. This is the most universal thing for any size fraternity house. FINES ARE NOT AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO GET PEOPLES ATTENTION. The thing is at big schools a lot of time there parents are paying their dues. Therefore a 15 or 25 dollar fine doesn’t resonate or at a small school where a lot of kids get loans often times think what is another 15 or 20 dollars to me. We would do one of two things either you would take a two week suspension from the house (you could attend mandatory events and meetings) or you could be assessed a certain amount of workmen hours to help improve the chapter house in order to uplift your suspension. Not only did this improve participation, but it made people more responsible and better fraternity members.
9) A Brother talks about suicide or even suicidal thoughts.
10) Alumni try to stay involved with Undergraduate Chapter without being involved with Alumni Association, talk about how to prepare Brothers for the transition so that both undergraduates and alumni can benefit.
11) Two or more Brothers are threatening each other to the point of killing.
12) Anger management issues for Brothers.
13) Injury on Premises
14) Date Rape Allegations
15) Media Inquiries about events
16) Working with ACB/House Corporation Boards
17) Working with Ineffective Officers — Making sure that each officer has Written Goals/Objectives
18) Setting the Tone for the Fraternity
19) Being a Young President
20) Managing a Good Chapter Meeting
21) Gentlemanly Conduct
22) How to apologize when good conduct is not followed
23) Running an Effective Retreat/ Chapter Leadership Team Goal Setting Meeting
24) How to handle members getting in trouble with student government
25) How to handle talking with student government disciplinary board.
26) Dealing with members who are not good representatives of your organization’s ritual/core values.
27) Getting the exec committee to be a cohesive unit that sets an example for the rest of the fraternity
28) Talking to members about drug use (especially if in the house).
29) Setting expectations and holding people accountable to a set of standards (what to do if people do not meet standards/break rules).
30) Having tough conversations with parents (living in the house, their son’s bad grades and it’s all your fault, injury/death of brother).
31) Handling situations when brothers are blurring the line between new member education and hazing when your fraternity is anti-hazing.
32) Handling the senior-bitch-corner in chapter meetings- aka essentially the brothers who don’t take chapter seriously and have stupid ideas or just shoot everything down. AKA dealing with the people who shouldn’t voice their opinion but do and are often the loudest/most persistent about it.
33) Dealing with brothers who want to go ‘inactive’ (shouldn’t exist in the first place) but people have financial issues and life happens, people want to take a semester off and come back.
34) Getting brothers to clean the house.
35) Working to develop a better Relationship with Greek Life
36) Doing recruitment training for new brothers
37) Cutting down on the gossip
38) When a brother is sent to hospital for alcohol poisoning
39) Uncooperative and unreasonable brothers (persuasion skills)
40) Theft and Fighting among brothers (problem resolution skills)
41) Corruption among the executive council (making difficult choices concerning membership reviews)
42) Substance Abuse (staging interventions for problem brothers)
43) You’re the leader not the best friend
44) How to run your organization – what you can and can’t do. Too many of my Presidents don’t know how to run a meeting or know their own policies well enough to enforce them. For example – the chapter can’t vote on breaking the law (selling alcohol, hazing, etc.).
45) How to respond in bad risk management situations. Beyond actually following the policies from the beginning, what I see the biggest problem with is that when something bad happens, they have no idea what to do. This is less the initial response – call 911, call the police, etc. – but more what comes afterward. Do they need to file reports with campus, advisor, HQ, landlord? Who should know about this? What are the possible consequences?
46) Making sure to have a clear mission/goals for the year and for your members to know these goals prior to your term officially starting. A good president will know the things that need to be addressed prior to his election and should keep a small log of these things as he sees them happening. My fraternities e-boards terms go by the school year so your term begins in may and ends at the end of April. And by the spring semester of my term as treasurer,the semester I was elected president as well, I had a decent size list of the problems I saw occurring on a consistent basis. This way you can hit the ground running and no time in your term will be wasted. Another thing is for your members to know your constitution/by laws and any changes you want to see be made. This was an issue with me and my members and people not taking responsibility for their positions and then when they wanted something they would do things they didn’t have the power or authority to do. Basically establish yourself as the leader and the voice so your members falls in line and believe in you. It’s important to have this happen early so things go well for you.
47) Building a Strong and Productive Relationship with your National Organization
48) Time management
49) When you need to remove people from the house… We’ve had issues with folks feeling entitled to live there, when in all reality there are other members who are better for the organization. I’ve had a heck of a time getting around “ritual order” and focusing on what’s best for the house.
50) Differing opinions throughout the chapter on the punishment of a brother, issues with alumni, and encouraging brothers that don’t pull their weight.
51) Handling Rush violations (alcohol usage from members), Handling Gay members and Brothers sleeping together .Complacency.
52) I think there needs to be a in depth study of why chapters continue to be good or bad we all know the basic reasons but no one ever looks at the threatening conditions to prevent bad trends before the crisis
53) Not turning in dues
54) Arguing during chapter meetings
55) Getting everyone to do their jobs
56) The “free loaders”
57) Lack of motivation in recruitment
58) I’m glad to hear you’re working on another book. One particular problem my chapter has faced is generating interest from freshmen. On my campus you can’t rush until sophomore year, so the only way freshmen gain an idea of what each fraternity is like is by parties. However, my chapter recolonized on campus this year and as a stipulation our house must be dry. So our biggest problem we face is trying to generate interest from generally apathetic freshmen (or potential new members in general) by some other means than parties. Everything we’ve brainstormed so far has been too corny and probably wouldn’t generate much interest (or worse give us an image of desperation). I think this is in general a common problem for many chapters, and any suggestions or advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
59) My challenges as fraternity President have been unique in that I was elected as a Sophomore. In the Spring of 2012 (my pledge semester), our fraternity was charged with alcohol and hazing charges (they were accurate). As a result, we were suspended from campus from May 2012 until January 22nd of 2013. The university placed strict sanctions on our fraternity in terms of hosting parties, philanthropy events, and new-member education. Due to the increased involvement by the university, the executive board was asked to resign. All did. When elections were held the following Fall, myself and a fellow member of my pledge class were the only men nominated for President. I won the election by what I am told was a significant number. Since then, I have faced numerous challenges related to being fraternity President; many of them relate to our unique situation as a chapter and my inexperience as a Sophomore. The situations listed below are the ones I believe to be significant barriers to success for a President (in my limited, personal experience). I hope you find them useful.
60) Keeping seniors involved and engaged
61) How important officer transitions are
62) Brothers who don’t pay dues
63) How to handle delegation of duties (and trust brothers to get their job done!)
64) Long-term planning (how will decisions made now affect the fraternity 2-4 years down the road?)
65) Alumni relationship management
66) Officer transitions (on both sides of the term)
67) Running an effective meeting. It seems simple enough, but I have seen many promising presidents fail to deliver in this basic function.
68) Conflicts within the fraternity
69) Conflicts with other fraternities or organizations
70) Situations in which interpersonal conflict between a brother and a non-member become the chapter against a non-member. The chapter is a brother’s support system, not his on-call lynch mob.
71) Hazing allegations and investigations – How to lead the chapter through an investigation by cooperating completely while being tactful with the media.
72) A fellow officer’s impeachment – How to remain objective about the officer’s performance and not allow the proceedings to become an echo chamber of “but he’s a brother, we owe him another chance.”
73) Scenarios in which the chapter must intervene and help a brother face a problem or behavior.
74) Rape accusations. This is a particularly sensitive subject, and it is very easy for a chapter to side with its brother and, in turn, demonize an accuser.
75) E-mail listserv or Facebook flamewars. It’s difficult enough to moderate a heated meeting, but trying to put out a fire taking place over an online medium is extremely difficult.
76) How to deal with a ‘click’ of members that are pulling the chapter in a different direction.
77) How to deal with a brother who has cheated the chapter (withheld or stolen fraternity funds).
78) How to keep a chapter meeting on-track (if the complaint is that meetings are too long or nothing ever gets done at chapter meetings).
79) How to avoid burn-out.
80) How to groom brothers for leadership positions (the finer points of mentoring).
81) How to deal with dissension caused by outside forces (a brother dating the ex-girlfriend of a chapter brother).
82) Another item that I feel should be discussed is how to motivate brothers and how to maximize data you can get from them to build a great year for the general membership. Our chapter used a surveymonkey.com to gather information from the brotherhood to see how many events we should have, how important one type of event was over another, and getting feedback about changes for the coming year. We got great pieces of data that really helped my Executive Board set goals and stretch goals for the chapter for the semester.
83) Keeping a cohesive board together through the entirety of your term. I noticed when my executive board started to fall apart, my chapter started to fall apart. It was easy for us to stay together at the beginning, but a while we lost our unity.
84) Keeping your senior members engaged. We have had a huge lack of involvement from our senior since our chapter was chartered. If there is a way to tackle this issue that works, it would definitely solve many President’s problems.
85) Keeping your executive board from burning out. I noticed that I pushed my executive board a lot during my term and it paid a toll in our productivity by the end of my term.
86) Creating a strong relationship with your alumni board. It’s one of the hardest challenges to make decisions that agree with both your alumni board and the rest of the chapter. When you get a situation where your alumni board wants a certain outcome than what the chapter wants, it is an extremely difficult position to put the President in.
87) Setting the right culture of chapter meeting. The correct balance between an informative and fun chapter meeting is hard to find.
88) I personally would like to know about how to improve scholarship within the chapter, how to get the members more motivated after a busy month that burns them out, how to get that 5th year senior more involved and motivated to help out, how to grow a chapter with quality men at a small school, and just how to improve relations with others on campus and in the community. Let me know i this helps out and when these will be written.
89) Our house is in a residential area, which proves to be problematic in party scenarios. Perhaps a section on police etiquette/risk management for when things get out of hand at a social function.
90) Alumni exerting unnecessary influence and pressure onto leadership, creating conflicts of interest between senior members.
91) Different Presidents bring different leadership tones – thus changing the culture of the organization.
92) How to handle rival organizations when tension builds.
93) Working with advisors
94) Campus officials, local volunteer advisors, regional advisors, national level ones, etc
95) This is especially important when the advisors have different viewpoints and ideas and the chapter president is usually stuck in the middle
96) “Managing your Stupid”
97) College should be a time of exploration, fun, etc. One of the things fraternity men forget is that this position puts them under even more scrutiny than a regular student. Do other students have large house parties? Absolutely. But if something happens at a fraternity party, than it gets blown up and usually out of proportion.
98) Managing your stupid could cover a wide range of categories from parties, to social media, to behavior on campus, etc
99) Working with apathetic upperclassmen
100) How to keep them connected to the chapter by offering meaningful programming
101) Too often chapters get caught up in the recruitment vortex and don’t put an effort into providing benefits for current members, especially upperclassmen. President’s are often upperclassmen, so they have an upper hand in know what these students need/want to get back from the chapter.
102) Developing a positive campus image
103) Being the representative for a group of knucklehead guys can sometimes be a challenge, but the fraternity president is that face and needs to be out there promoting the good of the organization and helping the fraternity establish a positive campus image
104) Positive image makes EVERYTHING on campus easier to navigate and work through
105) Acknowledging, Mediating, and Resolving Conflicts Between Big Brothers and Little Brothers
106) Maintaining Healthy, Objective, Nonviolent Communication During Meetings
107) How to Handle Different Cultural, Psychological, Gender, and Religious Issues in Chapter (e.g., religious exceptions during rushing “events,” different needs male and female members may have, acknowledging and benefiting from members’ different personalities, etc.)
108) How to Keep Your Cool During Chapter Controversies and Crises
109) Equity Theory and Sharing the Load: What to Do When A Brother is Not Pulling His or Her Weight
110) How to Better Include Brothers Who Cannot Serve as “Bigs” in Fraternity Rituals/Events
111) Delegating With Dignity: Learning to Ask for Help and Voicing Expectations for Social Support
112) Sexuality, Race, Gender, Individual Differences, Discrimination, and Prejudice: What to Do When Brothers are Being Treated Unequally
113) Technology and Presence in Chapter: When Should Skype and Technologies Be Used to Communicate?
114) How to Prepare for the Arrival of Your Chapter Field Representative
115) Tips on Dealing With Brothers’ Negative Emotions (e.g., empathic listening, stress relief techniques, negotiating boundaries, etc.)
116) How to Handle Dissolved Romantic Relationships in Chapter (especially relevant for co-ed chapters, but definitely can apply to all-male fraternities, too)
117) Choosing Your Battle and Winning Your Wars: How to Select Service Projects Without Scaring/Killing Off Potential and Current Members
118) I Complain, You Complain, We All Complain: How Modeling Desirable Behavior for Members Betters Your Fraternity
119) Discipline, Drugs, and Chapter Rules: How Psychologically and Organizationally Deal With Brothers’ Unlawful Behaviors
120) To Fund or Not To Fund: Where Should Brothers’ Money Go, and Why?
121) My main difficulty was trying to motivate our chapter to try new things. I pledged as a Junior and was president my Senior year. There were a lot of guys that had been around longer than me, and didn’t like a new guy coming trying to change our old ways of doing things. Either changing our recruitment techniques, changing rules to enforce attendance/service hours/etc, my guys would drag their feet at every turn. A good way to fix it was to get brothers I was close with to back me up when trying to change. Casual settings were the best way to change stubborn minds because I had time to talk out all of their concerns.
122) We gave recruitment a total overhaul. Our old way was to make a rush schedule, usually a couple nights at the house and maybe two at local restaurants. We would have to beg the brothers to show up and when our shy guys would walk in, they’d act like they couldn’t even see the recruits and just go talk with their brothers. So when our new exec took over we held practice events, planned to sit every-other seat at tables (that helped a lot) and used a group texting app to instantly communicate during events (who to talk to about what, etc.)
123) I know the biggest thing for my chapter at Ohio University is that we fight an uphill battle from day one to recruit people to even consider Greek life. OU is a top party school, so that usual selling point is kind of out. It’s also a very liberal, hippy-ish school so there tends to be quite a bit of scoffing at the thought of fraternities. OU’s IFC is historically weak and disorganized. As such, the men on campus are something like 8% Greek…very small. This won’t necessarily apply to EVERY chapter out there, but I’m sure we aren’t the only ones fighting not only to differentiate amongst fraternities, but also fight the bigger battle in favor of Greek life.
124) Another topic that may be interesting to discuss is the relatively recent shift away from the pledging model. I’m a SigEp, who nationally has kind of spearheaded this new model of fraternity. It is quite controversial and most established chapters linger somewhere in the middle of the “old” pledging model and the new “journey of brotherhood” kind of model. There are significant positives and negatives for both. This could be a very interesting topic to discuss/debate.
125) We recently had lost our recognition on campus mostly because I wasn’t given the information I needed to attend an event. When we went to appeal, they said we never see you guys anywhere. We know you are doing great stuff, but why haven’t you told us what you are doing. If we knew all of the stuff you were doing and had a better working relationship with us you may have avoided some of the troubles you went through. Now we send them a monthly report which is about a one to two paragraph email explaining what we did that month. That was then on my goal. I sent the e-mail, and I made myself known to most of the people in the student life office. I met with the Greek Life Assistant every two weeks and talked with the Greek advisor every time I walked up into the office. It helped and I hadn’t missed a mandatory event or form since…..
126) The same goes with alumni associations. Our alumni association always felt like our parents. We would go to them when we needed money or messed up. They had to bail us out or at least that’s the way previous presidents had handled it. This often caused them to worry about the general condition of the chapter. They would come to our chapter meeting and tell us how terrible we were doing or lecture us on how we aren’t doing so well. This built up a huge resentment between our actives and our alumni which was very negative. When I took office, I sent them monthly updates explaining what was going on, and invited them up for events at the house. This helped that relationship so much, and having a strong relationship with your alumni association could pay off majorly for your chapter.
127) We had a situation about a year ago when police searched our house with warrants and found thousands of dollars of stolen goods from pledge classes past, and tried us with grand larceny (which the charges were eventually dropped). Obviously the first thing we did was call our chapter advisor, then our province archon, who immediately got a hold of our national lawyer. The most important thing is to tell the truth. Especially to the lawyers. They are there to help you, and if you do not tell the truth, then you are probably going to get kicked off campus.
128) How to create a full-chapter buy-in. As in, “How do we get everyone motivated and “bought-in” to working really hard together to accomplish something?” For us this year it was recruitment.
129) How to deal with seniors and/or senior apathy/getting them involved. For us, we had to create Senior events that they would only be eligible to go to if they held committee roles and attended chapter meetings, etc.
130) How to deal with a brother that can’t afford to pay dues anymore, yet still wants to be a member. Dealing with possibilities of reduced dues, scholarships, and how the entire chapter would feel about it.
131) How to deal with an older brother that wants to haze / breaking the hazing history of the past and turning it into a more positive new member education program.
132) How to deal with “Well, THAT’S NOT HOW WE’VE DONE IT IN THE PAST, so why change now?” from older members.
133) How to get a committee system to work and how to handle a situation when an Exec Member or committee head isn’t pulling their own weight/needs to step it up.
134) How to deal with membership arrests/citations of your brothers/having to remove brothers from the chapter. (That’s always a fun one)
135) How to have success as a chapter when you don’t have a fraternity house. (That was big for us)
136) How to deal with IFC/University situations where they bring you to speak on a situation (that may be true or false) regarding a rumored hazing violation, party (that didn’t follow the rules), or other action. Meeting with the Dean.
137) How to deal with a member that isn’t cutting it academically and has to be suspended.
138) How to deal with a concerned parent (most often mom) who wants to talk about what to expect for her son during pledgeship.
139) How to handle a situation in which someone is hurt at a party or has too much to drink. What to do?
140) What to do when the cops come to the door (That’s pretty fun)
141) How to run a successful meeting (exec/committee meetings). Facilitate a chapter meeting in an orderly, yet not mood killing manner.
142) How to react when someone says you’re on a power trip. Or calls you out (It’s inevitable)
143) How to deal with criticism.
144) How to deal with people that want to engage in risky activity or throw parties that you can’t have and explaining exactly why you can not have these parties.
145) How to run a chapter that doesn’t have much alumni support/reengaging with alumni
146) How to work with a pledge that is thinking about dropping.
147) A great chapter would be about Officer transition. I believe that that is a key to a successful chapter. Far to often we see bad transitions and mistakes are repeated over and over again.
148) A hot topic I see is one man trying to do the work for the whole Chapter. If they do it alone, they get burned out and everything crashes.
149) Ritual is always key. That is the embodiment of what we are and how we exist. Every Fraternity has a ritual and a set of ideals that make them who they are. Every decision should be based on these ideals. If it doesn’t coincide with what our organizations ideals are, DON”T DO IT.
150) Fraternities are funny because young men with little or no accounting experience are given control of budget up to six figure sums. The man I had as a treasurer was someone I trusted, but had bad practices with money management. He did things like buy concerts tickets with fraternity money and try to resell them to make a profit for the fraternity. I believe his intentions were good, but I think this lost money for the fraternity and I am not sure this is even legal. I usually was too preoccupied with what seemed to be more pressing matters to have a solid understanding of cash flow in the fraternity and I think this brother was left unchecked and was reckless with money. A fraternity leadership council is made or broken by money management. Solid advice on this subject would be appreciated. I think an entire book on this subject alone could be written.
151) Hazing is the most discussed aspect of fraternity life but is still very prevalent. I feel this is because the conversation we have is usually about legality. Most 18-22 year old males don’t often understand the repercussions of their actions from a legal standpoint. The stance on hazing is its wrong because it kills teamwork. You cannot build an effective organization with hazing because it breads hate, mistrust, and fear. A good fraternity must work together, and hazing destroys this before it can even begin.
152) I spent several summers working at a summer camp as a unit leader. Boys would come for 4 weeks and live in units of 10-18. By providing activities that challenged these boys in ways they had never been pushed before, but still supporting them as human beings you can forge incredibly strong bonds and achieve great things. I took this lesson to heart as a president and did not sanction any group activity that I felt demeaned our pledges.
153) Communicating this idea to brothers who themselves were hazed is hard, but the leaders in the fraternity get it. They remember what it was like being a freshman and having the trust they placed in an older brother shattered when he demeaned them and bruised their manhood. A fraternity is not built my defeated men, it is built by empowered ones. The pledge period I tried hard to oversee as President embodied this. Activities were hard and demanding, but at no times demeaning. I think you touch on this idea nicely in your first book (eliminating hell weeks, etc.). I would like to see it developed more into a plan of action to communicate this idea to all members of the fraternity so to discourage rogue brothers hazing away from the eyes of the executives.
154) I read a great article onetime about how people form friendships. The thesis was something along the line that geographic convenience plays a larger role in forming friendships than shared values, beliefs and hobbies do. This means that above sharing the same values of the creed and brotherhood, living close together would build the strongest.
155) A great book on fraternity leadership would address this. The problem with housing is that each fraternity will have a very unique situation: urban/suburban/rural schools, housing market, laws, chapter size, etc. all play large roles. As president I found a good short term solution be creating a committee of leaders in the fraternity to lease 4 houses right next to each other. The largest was used as the main house and we had 3 satellite house we considered to be extension of the fraternity house. This allowed 32 members to live as neighbors and increase interaction and friendship.
156) Fraternities need retreats. It’s good to get away from the campus environment and the power of females for a weekend and build strong bonds with just the chapter. A list of good activities and good things to discuss on these retreats would be a huge benefit to a book.
157) On my fraternity retreats we would go river rafting and then camp on a members property after. This allowed us to be much louder than we could of been at a public camp site. While around the fire I would have all the new members talk about a thing the fraternity has taught them this year and then have the graduating seniors say something it has taught them over 4 years. I would of liked to use it as a venue to discuss large things like mission statements, but it was towards the end of the year and did not seem productive. a retreat in the beginning and end of year would be ideal to me.
158) Fraternities’ have targets on their backs, and will be scapegoats for most a college communities’ late night behavior. My school existed in a residential setting with fraternity houses only blocks from families, working people, and elderly. These people put a lot of pressure on the police at city council meetings to crack down on us, seeing it as a way to remedy all problems that came with moving into a neighborhood that has been home to a university for over 160 years. I always attended these meetings and prepared well for them. I put on pressed khakis, buttons ups, and ties. I printed business cards with the name of my organization, email and cell #. I arrived early to set a time on the agenda to speak and brought my secretary to take minutes. When given the floor I would calmly explain the role of our organization and the strict rules we face when throwing parties. After the meeting I would approach particularly vocal neighbors, offer my card and listen to their complaints. I would also make an effort to talk to police members and city council members to establish a rapport and get direct contact info. This went along way to build bridge with people in power and to give neighbors a contact to voice concerns. I believe it ultimately led to better relations and decreased fines.
159) A discussion of how to build rapport with police, fire fighters, city officials, school officials, and neighbors would be great for the book. PR is fraternities is too often about working with sororities when this is really the easiest part of the job (but still important).
160) In my experience the most successful chapters over time all have one thing in common; solid alumni support.
161) As far as I am concerned one the MOST important thing to do for a president is to COMMUNICATE with the Chapter Advisor. Just shutting down communications does not build anything.
162) You could talk about how to bounce back from rock bottom. How does a fraternity at rock bottom on sanctions rebuild and be better.
163) Apathy – what to do when someone is elected to a position just to fill it and doesn’t actually do the job.
164) Strategic Planning & Direction – why does a Chapter need vision and how you can do it.
165) Operations Management – how do you qualify/quantify a chair or executive’s job performance?
166) Were parties getting busted, brothers trying to take Pledge events to far, lack luster attendance at community Service and philanthropy events.
167) Suicide (Include working with IHQ, Housing Corp, Administration, & Family)
168) Alcohol poisoning and other medical emergency
169) Death threats (one of our pledges father threatened to kill me, while in psych care)
170) Kegs & IFPG violations
171) Being in the middle of a House Parent & Housing Corp
172) A poor house parent/housing corp
173) The effect alums stories have on under graduates
174) The resignation of a house parent/advisor/greek life administrator
175) Death in a members immediate family
176) Members with addiction problems
178) Dealing with Police
179) Revenge from Suspended Members (pranks on house i.e. fire crackers in windows)
180) How do I build a leadership group?
181) How do I identify my allies?
182) How do I work with my “opposition”?
183) How do I make a good first impression with my University advisor, other chapter presidents, campus leaders, etc?
184) What’s the best way to run a leadership retreat at the start of my presidency?
185) What’s the best way to run a chapter meeting?
186) Who should my confidants be in my chapter?
187) Why is Risk Management seemingly all I do?
188) I’m becoming overwhelmed with my chapter, school, work, my gf/bf, etc.
189) Where the heck do I start my work?
190) Mid-term (usually first fall semester as president):
191) What is the president’s role during recruitment?
192) What can I do over the summer for and with my chapter?
193) What are the best ways for me to establish myself as President with freshmen?
194) With so many new officers (if semester positions), how do I get everyone to stay the course or buy into the chapter’s mission?
195) We had a lot of guys drop out. How do I keep morale high?
196) We have a new Greek GA. What do I do?
197) Recruitment is over. Now what do we focus on?
198) New Member education is over. Now what?
199) How do I monitor potential hazing when I am not around?
200) End of term issues
201) Is it inappropriate to endorse a “candidate”?
202) How do I encourage a potential successor?
203) How do I help the next president transition?
204) How can I tell that I made an impact?
205) Who’s in charge immediately after elections?
206) What is my post-president role?
207) How can use my presidency after graduation?
208) Is it ok to not be active after my time as president?
209) What do I do about hazing and risk management?
210) Do I need to be hands on with everything?
211) We have a PR problem. How can I fix it as chapter president?
212) We don’t have the best relationship with other chapters on campus. What do I do as president to fix that?
213) What’s more important: success as a chapter within our fraternity or success as a chapter within our institution? How do I know?
214) We have a money problem! What do I do?
215) We’ve had a couple of hard ones in the past few years. A while back, I was stunned to find out that one brother had been accused of stealing–not money, but a sizable amount of marijuana–in order to support his cocaine habit. The brother who was stolen from was plainly selling it while residing at our house. All individuals involved in the incident have moved on and we’ve established a much more aggressive monitoring policy to ensure these sorts of problems are identified early and steps taken to keep our chapter drug- and crime-free. It’s not difficult to draw a bright line on such subjects, but it’s still surprises me that we have to.
216) Another perennial issue is non-payment of fines and dues. My president and officers told me late in the semester that the chapter was owed around $20k from brothers–many of whom simply mismanaged their own cash and left the fraternity hanging out to dry. I’d love some input about how to deal with this, other than dropping the hammer hard on the members who get behind.
217) What I think all presidents struggle with, especially in my chapter, is bringing everyone together. What typically happens in my chapter is a split between officers and non holding members where lots of debate is started and seems like a constant battle.
218) One of the biggest issues that we face here in the South is racial tension. It might not be as prevalent in other parts of the US; however, being from and living in the state of Alabama, there still seems to be a lot of consciousness toward it, even in the period that we are in now. The fraternity that I am in is called Phi Mu Delta. We are one of the first fraternities on the campus of the University of Alabama to not truly recognize race, creed, etc as a factor thus having a mixed group of guys – which is the way it should be.
219) Keeping the chapter morale up when transitioning to a dry house
220) When executive board members cant agree or have a different vision for the future of the chapter
221) How presidents need to be the “face” of the fraternity
222) How to recover when a chapter member creates an issue with one of the sororities
223) Chapter members not taking ritual seriously
224) How to make meetings fun
225) What to do when members are searching for loopholes in the by-laws
226) When a standards board isn’t upholding the standards for themselves or for others
227) How to transition out of hazing practices when “I had to go through it so why shouldn’t the new members?”
228) When members are comparing themselves to other fraternities (or lowering their standards to the level of the others)
229) Destructive behavior. I’m sure your fraternity had a guy or two that is a destructive drunk. We reach out to a consistently unpleasant violent drunk. It’s hard to confront a brother on a drinking problem but sometimes it has to be done.
230) Also how to address overall destructive behavior o the chapter I.e. breaking folding tables walls lights ect… We addressed in monetarily and also blocking them from holding positions.
231) As much as I look forward to reading your first book I have actually yet to do so. I apologize if this was already covered: As I entered the second half of my junior year here college, and as I enter the second year of my status as a member of this returning I find myself less enamored by the organization itself. Of course I love all of my brothers and my feelings towards any brother has never changed, but due to administrative incompetence and extenuating circumstances leading to a lack of acceleration on the fraternity behalf I seem to be less willing to attend fraternity events, meetings, etc. This whole idea of senioritis has plagued my fraternity for quite some time and I think it would be worthwhile to know some techniques of getting older brothers involved with younger brothers. This also piggybacks on the problem of alumni intervention, we had very little if any alumni support and I do believe it’s because of a lack of involvement in your senior and junior years as a brother at my fraternity. As always, thank you for your continued tips and tricks on how to be a better Greek.
232) I’ve personally struggled with balancing effective alumni relations, a welcoming atmosphere, and taking an authoritarian approach with those alumns who, while always a good time, present more risk than benefit to the current membership.
233) We’ve also run into some difficulties with visiting alumni… They sometimes fail to recognize the changing climate on today’s campuses. Things that used to be commonplace can result in a pulled charter this day and age.
234) In my situation particularly, we’ve had a lot of issues with holding brothers accountable to a grade point minimum. It often gets personal when people don’t want to get rid of someone who didn’t perform well academically. It is more important to uphold fair rules for everyone.
235) People don’t realize how difficult decisions on the E-board can be and how there are often two right answers to a problem. The most important thing is to figure things out as an E-board then stand together on a unified opinion, even if someone didn’t agree with it. When other brothers see the EB disagreeing, they discount their credibility and things start to unravel.
236) Additionally, don’t ever debate or argue something back and forth with brothers during a chapter meeting. It’s such a bad display of attitude and it again makes us look like the enemy.
237) “Working the Halls” is an important technique for presidents, in which they test their new ideas with certain individuals or groups of brothers and get it floating around before they propose it to the chapter.
238) One issue we had to deal with at our University of California, Merced chapter was the suicide of a much-loved but troubled brother of ours. Our President worked with University resources to assure that we knew of the counseling and other services on campus, but he let each person grieve and support in their own way while continuing to keep the chapter going. Moving forward made it a very strong uniting point.
239) circumventing cliques
240) facilitating meetings
241) “j-boarding” a popular member
242) university sanctions
243) fight between brothers at a party
244) getting an unpopular motion passed because it needs to pass (aka politics)
245) time management
246) Also, another good one is what to do if your Big or another Brother is emotionally, mentally, or physically abusing you or another Brother.
247) Establishing clear, consistent expectations is key. When the alumni or school administration make expectations that aren’t clear or are constantly changing, ask for clarification, for the expectations to be in writing, or ask them to explain the expectations in a different way so you can clearly understand them; after all, saying “oh I didn’t know” isn’t good enough. On the flip side, as the leader of the fraternity, demand that your leadership team provide clear, consistent expectations of the chapter. Business items like fraternity standards, dues payments, alcohol/party guidelines, etc. are too important to the health of the fraternity and demand clear, consistent expectations.
248) Do the key constituencies outside the chapter know you by name? Have you built a network with the alumni, school administration, IFC, greek community, intramural staff, etc.?
249) Have you replaced yourself? Is there anyone in the chapter you see as being the next chapter president? What about replacing yourself twice and giving the chapter two great candidates to choose from?
250) One situation I encountered was dealing with my having a social disability. While rare in the general population, at least autism spectrum disorders appear to be increasing. Social disabilities can be difficult to understand in general and unfortunately providing general guidance is difficult since each individual is unique and long-term interactions may be necessary to understand social disabilities. Identifying and including the individual’s support network to consider and facilitate social interactions may be appropriate. Sometimes communications are confused and misunderstandings may develop. It is appropriate to include support individuals while resolving these issues. When in doubt, bring in some professionals.
251) This topic will relate to two situations. The chapter offers the ability for a brother to go inactive for a semester. It also mandates that a brother not meeting a minimum GPA 2 semesters in a row must go inactive.
252) The new President is asking that brothers who want to go active meet with the executive committee, and those who have 2 bad academic semesters. Exec will consider exceptions.
253) The chapter has already created bylaws and voted on them. The exec was voted on to enforce the bylaws.
254) A 2nd semester was added to give those who had special situations occur during that first semester (death of a friend/family member, divorce, class mishap, bad health, etc.)
255) I’m opposed to Exec choosing which bylaws to enforce and choosing which brothers get exceptions. While they may not play favorites, those who don’t receive a favorable decision will surely cry favoritism. This will create a chasm between exec and non-exec brothers.
256) If there are bylaws that aren’t worth enforcing, why keep them on the books? It just lessens the strength of those bylaws exec feels should be enforced (kind of a 2nd topic to be addressed)
257) 3rd topic-have the President not be shortsighted. Don’t look at a short term fix. Look at what’s best for the chapter in the long run.
258) Maintain the lines of communications with chapter advisors, alumni board members (executive board), and representatives from the national headquarters.
259) Maintain the chapter’s financial obligations.
260) Maintain the chapter’s academics.
261) Enforce the fraternities values, goals, pledge education/ritual, etc.
262) Lead by example (i.e. pay dues on time, maintain a high standard of GPA in order to lead, be an outstanding campus and community citizen).
263) Effective Communication in-between committees/VP’s/Presidents and setting those expectations early on.
264) Effective/Organized Exec meetings
265) Maybe a chapter on Colonizing and building a fraternity from the ground up. (I’m currently the 2nd President of a colonizing chapter. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about this topic.)
266) Getting the most out of your Exec Team and their committees
267) Defining a Direction/Purpose/Goal as a chapter. This can be very hard to do with a large group of diverse people.
268) Brotherhood Building “Activities”
269) Dealing with diversity/opposing views
270) a division/cliques within the chapter
271) how to assist members with maintaining grades
272) One of the biggest things for a President is that of head cheerleader. He must learn to delegate – he can’t do it all. But, he can’t just sit back and watch, either.
273) He must be very ingrained in recruiting. That might even be his number one priority. As chief representative for the chapter, he’s a face guy that potential new members should look up to and become inspired. That’s not to say that a President should be elected resulting from a popularity contest, but being a popular house member can go a long way in developing the house atmosphere and bolstering recruiting.
274) The President must insist on input from all the officers to develop and post a year-long calendar. This plan can go a long way to a smooth operation. Include everything – initiation dates, paintball weekend, spring formal, football games, brotherhood weekends, philanthropy events, mixers, house road trips, and more. Having something like that posted in the house can also show PNMs that the house has their act together and there are lots of fun and meaningful stuff planned – better than the other houses on campus and one heck of a bunch better than dorm life.
275) Thinking about some current situations, one of the key things for a President these days seems to be of setting the tone to keep his chapter out of the newspaper. Most things in a newspaper regarding fraternities is typically not good news. The press loves to cite examples of those mean-spirited fraternities having been caught drinking or doing whatever the press perceives as bad. Many university administrations are aggressively targeting fraternities, or even just one fraternity on their campus, to nail for any behavior they can remotely characterize as unacceptable. Presidents must reiterate in many a chapter meeting the need for responsible behavior from every member.
276) I would talk about chapter suspension/expulsion. Even though this is one of the worst things that can happen, in my opinion the president is still president while this happens. I also think it’s important for presidents to know how to deal with chapter growth. To me this has 2 shapes: too slow, or too quick. When it’s too slow, the president needs to work with recruitment, but also needs to find a way to improve or build the face of the fraternity. If a chapter is growing too quick that means the chapter doesn’t know how to react to classes so large, and, as in the case of my chapter, can cause more problems because it amplifies disorganization or whatever internal problems exist.
277) For more general topics I would say conflict mediation is a big one, and trust is a big one. I first contacted you because I was planning my chapter’s first formal. Because of my effort and level of research I was logically allowed to plan it, however the executive board did not believe in creating a committee or chair specifically for formal. They told me I had to do all special events in order to get a position name. To me, this demonstrated a lack of trust. Once I felt the president and vice presidents did not trust me, even though I had all the information on paper or was able to explain it, conflict arose. This spread like wild fire throughout the chapter because it put people in the position of choosing one side or the other: having the chapter’s first formal vs having faith in the president.
278) As both a past chapter consultant, HQ staff member, regional volunteer and past national president, I’ll offer a few thoughts on working with the national organization. A chapter president can really make the difference in creating a good relationship between his chapter and the national headquarters team and such a relationship can only make the chapter stronger. The key is for the president to be proactive.
279) Build positive relationships with the appropriate staff personnel and volunteer–email updates and occasional phone calls will go a long way.
280) If the organization offers a presidents retreat or training program, the president needs to attend and actively participate.
281) Share the chapter’s strategic plan with the HQ, especially your plan to grow the chapter, improve grades and keep members and pledges safe!
282) Know where you stand financially with your HQ, if there is an issue, work with them on a plan to address it.
283) Make sure the chapter sends large, well prepared and well behaved contingents to national events.
284) Make sure you send in good news and pictures for your national publications.
285) Use the correct terms and nomenclature for your fraternity; sound like you know what you’re talking about. Most fraternities have a manual or similar that will spell this all out. Use specific terms for referring to your national level officers, staff and events. In most cases, use of the term “nationals” is not acceptable.
286) Set up a visit to your national headquarters; arrive at the agreed to time and be respectful!
287) If your fraternity has visiting chapter consultants, make sure you are well prepared for the visit
288) Get ahead of your problems and discuss them with the appropriate headquarters personnel or national level volunteers. Remember that your HQ wants you to have a strong chapter and for all of your members to have a positive, productive and safe fraternity experience. HQ’s are in the business of strengthening and growing the fraternity. HQ’s and national boards hate closing chapters but they also hate surprises.
289) Your headquarters would rather hear about your chapter issues from you vs. the alumni, parents, the university or the police. If there is something you need to deal with (hazing, risk management issues, financial issues, etc.) have the courage to lead and bring them up with the people who can help you. You’re much better off if you bring up the issue—your national organization wants to work with you to solve issues before they major problems, injuries or worse.
290) If you do have an emergency situation, make sure you get any local emergency assistance you need first and then notify your appropriate HQ staff contact ASAP. Be 100% forthcoming, honest and responsive with your HQ.
291) Get ahead of recruitment and chapter size issues—your national headquarters can offer resources, training and more. Your HQ wants your chapter to grow and maintain a healthy membership size and balance.
292) Get to know the men who volunteer to help you and your fraternity at a national, regional and local level.
293) Invite your current or past national officers and other volunteers to chapter meetings, initiations or even a special dinner; make sure you are well prepared to for any such visits.
294) If your fraternity elects officers at a national convention, get to know the candidates and ask them good questions about their vision for your fraternity.
295) If it is a school or Chapter rule that there will be no drinking on the premises, then I believe that the Chapter Executive Committee should make a ruling to fine the Brother(s) or Pledge. This way, the President (Consul) will not take all the heat. If they cannot reach an agreement, then the Consul should make an executive decision.
296) Hazing – this is, has been, and sadly always will be a part of pledging. I seriously doubt that there are any Greek organizations that do not. You only hear about those where someone is either injured or killed. I believe that the only way is to either suspend or expel those participating. When I was still an Active, our IFC representative & IFC President turned us in for an illegal “walk”. He was ostracized.
297) No matter how much we talked with and threatened the Actives (National included), it was ‘they did it to me and therefore I can do it to you all”. We’re hoping to recolonize in about 4 years with an new group, some good Actives transferred in, a strong support of the local Alumni Association, a good Chapter Advisor, and National support.
298) Respecting tradition- In the ’50’s and ’60’s we believed in the Jordan Standard and formal Initiation. Over the years I have seen almost a complete implosion of these traditions. Chapter meetings with T-shirts and ragged jeans, and the same attire at Initiation along with drinking during I-Week and at Initiation . If the Executive Committee is not strong enough (or themselves participating), Charter suspension may be the only answer. If it is strong enough, then rules must be set and enforced up to (and including) expulsion.
299) How to set your chapter up to win awards at the university and national level.
300) How do you ensure the next president continues the programs you started and doesn’t ‘start all over’
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