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.
What should I (or the fraternity) do about a member who doesn’t care about image and how he comes across? I could really care less about how he feels his actions affect him but when it’s detrimental to the fraternity, that’s where me and my president have issues. We have both talked to him but he continues to shrug it off and say that it’s not a big issue and that it’s his choices to make.
I’m going to address this assuming a couple of things.
1) That you have already tried the subtle man to man conversation
2) That appropriate warnings and other informal actions have been taken
It sounds that way. Sometimes, brothers are unresponsive to informal approaches. They don’t see a tangible consequence or feel enabled to continue their behaviors. It is much like disciplining students in a classroom. We want to correct behaviors, so we must make those behaviors result in negative consequences that are undesirable.
With your situation, this brother’s conduct is going to have effects in a few areas of your operations. You will have recruiting issues because prospects will look at him and assume that he represents the rest of the chapter.
Other Greeks will look at him the same way, causing issues when planning socials and interacting with the rest of your Greek community. Administrators will look at his actions and take steps with him, or your chapter, to address the issue. However, this is not a good thing in that it takes the consequences and the process out of your control. If you hope to address it internally, this cannot happen.
Administrators look favorably upon chapters that can handle their business internally well enough to not clutter their schedules with knuckle-head stuff. Not knowing your specific chapter and your traditions, I’m going to briefly outline a few options you may have:
1) Your internal judicial process
– Conduct Unbecoming is a catch all for behaviors that jeopardize the integrity of the fraternity. If the informal approach hasn’t worked, this might be the next logical step.
2) Address the behavior in a chapter meeting
– This does not have the same tangible power as option one, but putting on a meeting agenda and addressing it in your chapter meeting can have an impact. It shows that it is now chapter business and brings it front and center to the attention of your entire membership
3) Limit his exposure and increase your positive exposure
– Think of this as a balancing act. If he brings x amount of negative attention to your chapter, find ways to bring 10 times that amount of positive attention to your chapter. Typically, philanthropic or service based events drive this guy in the other direction. You can never underestimate the power of positive PR and drown out the negative.
4) Find the real source of the problem
– I’ve been around a lot of fraternity men that have other issues that manifest themselves as acting like idiots or bringing bad attention to the chapter. Ask around. Do some research and see what the underlying issue could be. The result may surprise you and not just give you a better plan of attack, but also provide you some perspective.
5) Use your advisor or administrators
– Being disciplined by your peers is one thing. Being disciplined or hammered down on by an administrator or your chapter advisor is another thing. Sometimes, this is like using the nuclear option. However, it can be the only option available is you have not made any headway anywhere else.
This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and new contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!
JOIN MY NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE:
Fraternity – What’s the Point?
The 10 Skills Your Fraternity Should Teach You