How to Deal with Deadbeat Fraternity Alumni

deadbeat fraternity

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.


I am part of a local fraternity and as such our alumni base is limited and focused to this one chapter, as we only exist at our school. This is both a blessing, due to their loyalty the fraternity, and a curse, when more recent graduates decide to take advantage of our hospitality.

We’ve recently been struggling with the issue of members of the fraternity that are initiated, but do not graduate from the school. The academics themselves are rigorous and challenging so some initiated members have failed out, withdrawn, transferred, etc.

Issues then arise when they return to visit and expect the same level of respect and reverence an alumni that graduated from the college and has been a part of our alum association for 2, 4, or 5+ years. Typically they’ll return and then take advantage of an event we’re throwing and not donate, gift or contribute any assets to the event.

Some of these men, while we respect them and enjoy their company, occasionally have outstanding debt with the fraternity or just regularly take advantage without ever returning the favor, so to speak.
We’re unsure how to handle the matter, particularly when the members are our peers, of similar age, etc. and have done nothing to earn the status of alumni, the additional requirement being they did not graduate from the school.


This is an issue that even larger national and international fraternities face. I have seen this in my own fraternity and in other chapters where I went to school. They spend one year in the your fraternity, they can’t handle the school for various reasons (money, conduct, waking up before 11am for their 9am and 10am classes), then they keep coming back. These are also the guys that tend to be VERY negative influences on your newest and prospective members. Hopefully, these four tips can help you start dealing with these folks effectively.

1)      No pay, no stay

–          I help manage a housing complex, so this mantra is something I use all the time. Apply this to your chapter. These guys have outstanding balances. They owe you this money and probably have for a long time. When you have more formal events, have initiations, and alumni retreats, these guys do not get to come. It really is that simple. No pay, no invite. Granted, an incentive to pay all (or even most) of an outstanding balance may help you as well.

2)      Make it unpleasant when they come back

–          If these folks keep coming back, try looking at what enables them to come back and cause so many issues. Are they being enabled? Are there no real consequences or deterrents for them? You’d be surprised how many will stop coming if they don’t want to be annoyed / harassed / given flack while they are there. Remember, no one likes being asked “where’s my money” every single time you see them (see tip #1).

3)      Have a conversation

–          Where is the harm in this? Why not pull these yahoo’s aside and just have a civil conversation? You can even go out of your way to bring this group together and outline what is going on. Getting all hopped up about it isn’t always the best way to go about fixing the problem. Keep it level and keep it simple. You’d be surprised how this turns out.

4)      Chill out

–          Look at the last bit of #3. Stay calm. There are worse things. A lot of times these guys are still young a little bit wild, but will level out. It is inevitable. You can’t necessarily control what is going on with your alums, but you can more closely control what is going within the active chapter. Why waste your energy? Channel it towards what can do the most immediate good and have a more tangible impact. More positively contributing active members will lead to more positively contributing alumni.

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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