fraternity legacies

A subscriber to my fraternity newsletter recently asked me about my opinion on fraternity legacies.

He has a fraternity brother who had his younger brother rush.   For whatever reason, the brotherhood decided the younger brother did not deserve a bid, and this caused some discontent in the fraternity.  He asked me my opinion on legacies.

As frequent readers of TFA know, I believe your fraternity should only focus on having the most high quality men in the chapter.  If an individual doesn’t meet your expectations, then they should be cut or not given a bid.

However, my opinion on fraternity legacies contradicts this mindset.

I believe in nearly all cases a legacy should be given an automatic bid – especially if the original brother is still in school.  Only in extreme circumstances should he not be given one.

Here is why:

1) It is necessary PR move.

Think about the brother in the original question.  His fraternity brothers essentially said that his family isn’t good enough.  I love my fraternity and chapter, but it would be very hard to remain committed to an organization that wouldn’t accept my real brother.  Also, think about the problems it is going to cause his family.  How is he going to explain to Mom that little brother isn’t good enough – especially if Mom is paying his dues?  I think you risk losing a brother if the legacy isn’t offered a bid.

2) There is a more tactful way to handle this situation.

Let the legacy become a new member.  If the new member program does what it is supposed to do, it will prove whether he should become a brother or not.  If he isn’t a good fit, it will be exposed for everyone to see.  In nearly all cases where a new member isn’t cutting it, a new member will realize this and quit.  However, if he doesn’t, then you will have concrete reasons why he doesn’t meet your expectations of a brother.  You will have given him every opportunity to prove himself, and can now justify not letting him in.

3) He may turn into a really good brother.

Maybe he just gave a bad first impression during fraternity recruitment.  We have all seen 100x the recruits that try too hard and come off bad, or the ones who are a little socially awkward.  However, often times these guys are diamonds in the rough and turn into great brothers.  If the original brother is a good member of the fraternity, there is hope for his legacy.

I am very curious to hear your thoughts on legacies.  Should they be given automatic bids?  Does anyone have a story that could help the chapter that is having this issue?  Please leave your thoughts below in the comments.

Any insight will really help this struggling chapter…

To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.

2 thoughts on “Fraternity Legacies – Automatic Bid or No?

  1. While I’m certainly biased, being a multi-legacy when I came in, I do think there is enormous value in being a legacy.

    Our fraternities are about taking people of similar beliefs and shaping them into lifelong commitment to the philosophy that is our ritual so that they can go into the world as alumni and spread that message to society through their daily lives. That is the ONLY reason we exist. Everything else is bonus. If you ever lose sight of that, your charter should and likely will follow shortly after.

    When talking about the child of an initiate, they have theoretically been raised in your beliefs. So much about them should already be in line with your purpose that your work can be more focused on making them better in other ways. There is an opportunity there for greater gain than you can achieve with almost all other potential members. That’s the theory anyway. I know it doesn’t always hold true, but it’s worth the benefit of the doubt.

    In the case of a brother, cousin, etc that doesn’t have the benefit of being raised by your principles, I put less stock in the value of their legacy and see it instead as respect for that person’s very strong recommendation. For that reason, most national organizations have rules making it more difficult not to bid a legacy. I highly encourage you to reference those rules and follow them.

    Long term, a family that shares this link will be more apt to care about and support the organization in the long term.

    I am worried in a case like the one referenced that the vote on the younger brother not be a referendum on the value of the older brother. Don’t let that happen.

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