We’re having an increasingly hard time getting people to live in the fraternity house. It’s the cheapest place to live on campus, and living in the house gives you cheaper dues, and yet people still want to move out or not move in. It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming a financial burden on the chapter. Do you have any other ideas about how to convince people to move in without forcing them to? And when does it come time to call it quits and get rid of the house?
Your house cannot be a financial burden on the chapter. In nearly every case the chapters who get in severe financial trouble are the ones with problems filling the house. If you are having to subsidize the house with chapter dues, then you need to seriously consider not having a house. While this may seem like a drastic measure, your brotherhood has proven that they don’t want a house since they won’t live in it. Your organization cannot continue to hemorrhage money for something the brothers don’t want.
Of course, this is the last resort. You want to get brothers to live in the house. Your first step is to figure out why brothers don’t want to live in the house. Create an anonymous questionnaire for your brothers to fill out explaining why they don’t want to live in the house. Make it anonymous to make sure you are getting the real answer from brothers. Then your challenge is removing these barriers to living in the house.
Hopefully, these barriers will be easy to overcome. If not though, it may require you to move or give up your house all together.
I have a new member that was elected the graduate relations chair. What are some ideas of events or advice you have for him?
This position is my commonly called the alumni chair. The main responsibility to this position is to keep your alumni aware of what is happening with the chapter through newsletters and other communications.
Most chapters are horrible at this though.
If your new alumni chair would spend a half hour a semester writing about the latest news in the chapter, then email it to all your alumni, then he would be doing more than most chapters. Your alumni would also appreciate the update.
Here are some other resources that will help:
We have a new pledge and he wants me as a big brother really bad, but he can’t because I’m ineligible. Should I recommend him to pick someone else, or try to work out kinks to be his big?
Don’t get lost on titles. This is something that fraternity men get all worked up about but in actually means very little.
If you want to be this guy’s big brother, then act like it. Take him to dinner. Teach him what you know about fraternity. Make sure he is set up for success academically. Be a friend and a mentor. You don’t need the official title of big brother to do all those things.
Hopefully he is getting the same type of guidance and involvement from the guy who becomes his official big brother.
These actions will show the new member that fraternity is not about status or titles, it is about a group of men bonding together to help improve each other. That is a powerful lesson to teach a new member.
I want to help my fraternity have more quality members and my concern always arises due to the fact that when members cross or are initiated into the organization, they lose their passion for the fraternity or get too caught up in partying. They forget that the reason they even joined the organization which should be to build brotherhood, strengthen ourselves as leaders, scholars and men, and to serve our community.
What do you believe are some effective strategies to get members to be more active in the fraternity and not leave/become inactive? Members who do go inactive reflect poorly on the fraternity. It is as if we are recruiting the wrong type of people or not giving them motives to stay active in the organization.
You answered your own question with the last sentence in your question.
Recruiting better will help – but understanding your chapter will help out more.
By understanding I mean you have to understand what your members are looking to get out of their membership. Too often motivated executive boards will try to impose their interests on the brotherhood and those will not align with the desires of the chapter. When that happens, you have the situation you describe.
I talk about this very subject extensively in my new book – The Chapter President. You need to figure out what the brotherhood wants, then you need to figure out how to motivate them to action to achieve those goals.
Changing fraternity culture is not the easiest thing to do, so don’t become discouraged while you travel down that path. Realize though it will be worth-while and will teach you a lot about your own leadership abilities.
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.