fraternity probation

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I was initiated my freshman year into a house that was on probation for alcohol-related incidents and we have been on probation ever since. Probation has made our house alcohol free and we’re not allowed to have social events unless they are educational. We are also not allowed to participate with other Greek houses on campus.

As you can imagine, this discouraged many of our members and we continually lost members, as well as motivation. We are currently at 6 members with 2 pledges and a pretty good sized names list. I am extremely worried about our house and don’t know what to do to increase our numbers and get us out of this rut. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!


This is a tough situation to be in. However, being in this situation actually has a few advantages which I’ll explain in a minute.

Before you can focus on rebuilding your fraternity, you must make sure you have a clear understanding of what your chapter is all about. Why should guys want to be a part of your fraternity? What do the brothers get out of being part of your organization? What are your goals?

Once you get a clear understanding of what your fraternity is all about, then you will be able to sell potential new members on those ideas. Hopefully, you will be recruiting guys with the same mindset.

And when you recruit these guys, explain to them that they will be expected to run the fraternity once they are initiated. You and the other brothers have to be willing to give away control of the fraternity to the newly initiated brothers. This is a huge recruiting advantage you have over the other fraternities on your campus. It will also attract leaders, something desperately needed by a struggling fraternity.

That is the first major advantage. Another one is the guys you get to join will be highly motivated. Older, more established fraternities can lack guys with the drive to innovate. You won’t have that problem. The excitement of the new brothers will be contagious, and your fraternity should be able to rebound fairly quickly.

As for your probation issue – you need to do a few things there. First off, you need to understand why your fraternity got in trouble, and put the safe-guards in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Fortunately, no probation lasts forever. Be sure you are proactive with the Greek Life office, Student Conduct and your National Headquarters during this tough period. Ask them for advice, and let them know the things you are doing to turn your fraternity around. It is on you to reach out to them, not the other way around.

I know you don’t believe it right now, but these folks want to see your fraternity succeed and prosper. Treat them like they are on your team, and your fraternity can come out of this stronger than ever.

If anyone has additional thoughts, please leave a comment below.

To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on being a fraternity president: How To Be a Great Fraternity President

2 thoughts on “I’m the President and My Fraternity is Really Suffering – What Should I do?

  1. I agree with both the previous men, the good thing is you guys have two more years to make an impact. Every Chapter eventually has ups and downs, but once your image is affected then it becomes a test of your character. The first thing your chapter needs to do is address why you joined initially? Then ask people around campus you don’t know what is the image of your Chapter, sometimes the issue is also how other organizations see you, so ask people you do not know, your friends normally do not address this. The last step is see if this is the image you want on campus, if you need to change it make sure all your members are on board and do it. Sadly this takes more than a semester or two and to a point if your image is viewed as irreparable your Nationals and to an extent you guys will need to close shop so that image can disappear. It doesn’t seem like you have reached that point so going to Nationals, improving your image, and having brothers recruit in different ways well beyond parties. BBQs, football games either at your house or on campus, meet new freshman at the gym, cigar night, and in other social settings on campus that do not include alcohol or parties is by far one of the best ways to meet guys who are social, fun, and that girls enjoy talking to. My final warning is don’t wait until rush to recruit, the first week of the semester is critical. I was our chapters refounding President when we recolonized in a school of 49 other fraternities, but with 9 guys we recruited another 22 by using different practices. We are raging in our house with now 45 active brothers and the chapter is getting recognition for being different and for partying. It is a different from the image we had when the chapter was closed 5 years earlier. If you want any more vise why email is here, hope you guys do well.

  2. I amen everything Pat has said. It is all terrific advice, and spot-on.

    Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself. Have you (and your other 5 initiated brothers) admitted that what your chapter was doing was wrong? Not just bad for the chapter, but actually wrong. Ask, “Are we willing to turn completely away from the things we used to do?” You have to stop all the bad habits. If you think you’ll be able to get the chapter back on its feet, and then you can begin partying like you used to, you’re mistaken.

    First step, in my opinion, is to find adults on campus or in your city who can be advisors to your chapter. (Use your connections by asking friends and adults around you. You can also ask your HQ if there are a few alums in the area who have experience–former HQ staff, former leadership consultants, former advisors etc.) Overall, though, you’re looking for someone excited to help, and it’s useful if he/she has any type of related experience. You might want a general advisor as far as the whole operations, but if a professor, for example, wants to help only in a specific area, allow him to work with an undergraduate in that one area. If you have a general advisor, involve him in every aspect of the chapter. He doesn’t have to be at everything, but he should be in the know on everything. Don’t hide anything from him.

    Second step is to connect with all local alumni and ask for their help. This can be difficult because many alums may have a view of how your chapter should operate that doesn’t align with the values of your organization. (“In my day, we had the biggest parties…”) Well that’s not what you’re looking for. So select an alum who wants to build the chapter. *Then, give him the number to your HQ guy for help.* That’s an important step. Your alum will become more capable because has the help of the HQ and all of their knowledge. Anyway, get alums to come to recruitment events. Ask your HQ for info about how to do this, and what the role of alums at recruitment events should be.

    Your HQ likely has someone on staff, likely called the Director of Expansion, who is responsible specifically for starting new colonies/chapters. He’s going to be the best guy to go to, hands down.

    And to reiterate, follow every step of advice Pat included. Very, very crucial bits on recruitment there as well.

    Oh. and it should go without saying that you should not be hazing your pledges. No use in hazing pledges when your chapter sucks.

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