How a Fraternity Survives a Membership Review

How a Fraternity Survives a Membership Review

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.


My fraternity recently went under membership review and went from a 50+ man chapter to a 9 man chapter. We are on recruitment suspension until Spring 2013. I want some advice on how to manage a small chapter, dealing with “former” brothers, and how do I manage my loyalties with the new chapter and the former relationships I had with the “former” brothers.


I’m going to break down my response to address each of your three questions. I think it’s helpful to compartmentalize them in order to keep a better focus.

Managing a Small Chapter:

–          Small chapters do present a unique set of issues. There are just as many reports, events, and work in a small chapter as any other. The real difference is that now there are fewer people to shoulder the load. Managing a small chapter requires a significant amount of patience. You know that you are asking a lot of your membership with each and every aspect of your chapter’s operations. Your officers cannot zero in one their projects like in larger chapters and may need more time and understanding as the juggle more in-house responsibilities. You have to keep in constant contact and do everything you can to avoid the “it’s not my job” reactions. With 9 people, you don’t have the luxury of passing the buck. As such, you will want to tap into any alumni help that you can. Given the membership review, you may have a divided alumni base and will need to be very intentional about who you seek out.

Dealing with Former Brothers:

–          It may not always be from such a large and significant issue as a membership review, but this is also a normal problem. Brothers quit or are asked to leave and can create some awful situations. In your case, there is no easy way and there is no silver bullet. I’m sorry, but that is the truth.  You cannot forget that there had to be a reason that 40+ of your brothers were asked to leave the chapter. Whatever their actions were, they were not in the best interest of your chapter. It is never easy to balance the relationships with former brothers, much the same way it is difficult to manage relationships with former co-workers. You have the separate the issues at hand. Are they still worth your time to associate with? Are they still that important of a part of your life? Will your continued association with them help or hurt your chapter? You have to decide if the turbulence a relationship causes is worth maintaining. Stay on the high road, but make sure that you act in the best interest of the chapter and ensure that you are not being unwittingly brought down by your association with them. You may have to steer clear entirely. Only you can decide that for yourself on a person by person basis.

Managing your Loyalties

–          When you pledge and join a fraternity, you take on a great responsibility. Every Fraternity has an oath or a pledge that is sworn. When it comes to managing your loyalties, you have to keep this oath in mind. At all times and in every way you need to live up to that oath. Your loyalties are with your Fraternity. Just like the previous portion of my response, you have to act in the best interest of you personally and in the best interest of your chapter. The 9 of you that remain are apparently the only ones that have lived up to your oath. In my opinion, your loyalties are with them.

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.

This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and contributor for the If you are interested in writing for – let us know (CLICK HERE)!


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