Fraternity Rush – The Numbers Game and 8 Potential Outcomes



Summer is starting to come to a close.  Rush week will be here before I know it.  Along with rush week comes the bi-annual slide show of “bid/no bid” discussions.  

Over the last year and a half, I have argued against many a potentials receiving bids, but my disdains are often ignored and responded to with the saying “bids, not badges”, meaning we can drop them if we feel like it later.  However, it is in our ritual book that a potential may only receive a bid if the brotherhood is unanimous.

Furthermore, as a second question, one brother that did get pinned was brought up for discussion about being blackballed 3 or 4 times last year, but it seemed as if 4 out of 28 of us at the time were willing to drop him.  Now, at least half of our 45 man chapter, including a solid proportion of his 17 man pledge class, complains about how he was initiated and that it was “a bad idea” in hindsight.

How can I make sure that these kinds of guys don’t get bids and if they do, get dropped when it is time?


Here are eight possible scenarios that will happen when you lower your standards to get your numbers up:

1)     You will be stuck with a guy you don’t want.  It is hard to get rid of a guy (as you realize), especially if your reason is you don’t like him.  You chapter will be involved in numerous backroom discussions about getting rid of guys, which is not healthy for a chapter.

2)     You will lose a closeness in the brotherhood.  Strong chapters hang out and spend time together because they genuinely like each other.  Brothers will not hang out with the new brothers if they don’t feel like these guys are at least same caliber of the current brothers.  It won’t take long before this causes a serious divide in you chapter.

3)     Your reputation will suffer.  The reputation of the individuals in your chapter is what forms the reputation of the entire organization.  Low quality brothers will pull the reputation of the entire fraternity down.

4)     It will kill you during recruitment.  Your chapter’s current mindset is to take a chance on guys to get your numbers up.  This is a very near-sighted strategy.  Eventually these guys will become brothers, and they will put off future potential new members.  You may increase your membership by one guy now, but this one guy will cost you many in the future.

5)     Losers attract other losers.  Once these guys are in your chapter, they will recruit their friends to join.  A strange phenomenon will happen.  Since the quality brothers you have do not like the new guys, they will disappear from the chapter.  The losers will be the only brothers who are active, and it won’t be long before they transform the entire culture of your brotherhood through their recruitment efforts.

6)     These questionable brothers will display questionable behavior. In other words, these are the guys who typically get chapters in trouble.  If a guy is trouble, you will not be able to hide him in the brotherhood.  He will stick out and he will eventually bring the chapter down with him.

7)     Your social program will suffer.  Sororities won’t want to have mixers with these types of guys, so they won’t.  People won’t want to come to parties with these guys, so they won’t.  These guys will eventually  kill your social program.

8)     Not all possible outcomes are bad.  Maybe he will become a solid brother.  Maybe you had him pegged wrong during recruitment.  Maybe he is a good guy, but it was difficult to figure him out during rush.   Maybe your chapter culture is strong enough to turn this guy around and get him to conform to the high character ideals of your chapter.  This is a strong possibility, and we all have seen examples of this happening.

As you can see, I see a lot more potential problem outcomes than good outcomes by giving this guy a bid.

If I were in your shoes, I absolutely would not to give a problem guy a bid.  If a guy is bad news, he is bad news.  I would cause a stink and reference your chapter bylaws to back up my position if I was in the minority.  The chapter doesn’t need these types of guys regardless of how bad your numbers are.  Examples of guys who are bad news are guys with substance abuse problems, guys who like to fight, guys who are on the verge of failing out of school and guys who don’t know how to act in public.

I would take a chance on a guy who has the potential to display the qualities that are important to the chapter.  Think about how you were as a freshman.  I am sure you are a lot different today then you were when you entered the university.  Part of fraternity is helping guys become the best version of themselves.  There is some truth to the diamond in the rough theory, as long as the chapter is dedicated to building these guys up.

Finally, I would be quick to kick a guy out during the new member period if I didn’t feel he would become a respected brother.  This is extremely hard to do, and is rarely done except in the very best chapters.

Once you have made your mind up on a guy that he isn’t the type of guy you want in your fraternity, let the executive board know your reservations.  For the benefit of all, you need to kick the guy out sooner than later.  Dragging it out isn’t fair for anyone.

This is about the only way you can handle this situation tactfully.  A fraternity is a democracy.  Make your opinion known, then let everyone decide on the outcome.  If you go this route, be sure you have concrete examples and reasons of why this guy should not become a brother.  Being able to get the rest of the chapter to see this guy as you see him will be your biggest challenge.

Without a doubt this is a difficult situation that fraternity leaders face each semester.  Chances are you don’t have much history with the perspective new member so you don’t know his true colors.

I think a great test when deciding on a guy is asking yourself if you would be comfortable with this guy representing you.  If you 100% sure you wouldn’t want him to represent you, then I think you have the answer you are looking for.

Don’t ever take guys just to boost your numbers.  This strategy will backfire and backfire fast.  Quality guys attract quality guys.  The second you compromise that will be the second your fraternity starts to slip.

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

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