When I pledged my fraternity two years ago, we were a top fraternity at my school. We literally succeeded in everything. We dominated sports, always threw the best parties, had the strongest brotherhoods, had great philanthropies, and recruited the best guys on campus. After a few awesome pledge classes have graduated I find my chapter going straight downhill.
Yesterday we had to forfeit our softball game because we couldn’t get enough guys to show up. Our participation in everything sucks, we are doing terrible in sports, no one wants to show up to brotherhoods anymore, our parties are not the same as they use to be, and I find myself asking why?
We still have great, cool guys with lots of potential, but that fire just isn’t there anymore. How do I change this and bring my chapter back up to the top?
So your chapter has started to slide a bit since your last few great recruiting classes. Please, don’t panic. Every chapter in every fraternity has had some stretch where it looks like it’s going downhill fast. We have a few articles somewhere in our archives here that can help with that.
Not knowing the specifics of your chapter and the circumstances. A lot of times, asking the right questions can help you narrow down why your cool guys are not helping you any:
– During recruitment, do you go after big personalities or big thinkers, doers, or leaders? David Stollman refers to these people as Gamma Gammas, Good Guys (with a flair of mockery in his tone). Big personalities stand out, but what do they accomplish when they arrive?
– How are your chapter’s finances? Are they good guys but awful with their money? If money is an issue, then maybe the scaling back of projects and programs could hurt
– What are your relationships like with other chapter? Just like the Good Guys can hurt you internally, they are often not the best of fostering relationships with other campus leaders. Hard to be successful when no one wants to associate with you
– How well do the Good Guys know ritual? There is a purpose behind every ritual action for every chapter. If those actions and words are treated as just another item in a meeting agenda, then it’s not a sign that they don’t know ritual. It’s a sign that they don’t care about ritual. That’s a major red flag.
Finding answers to these questions at least gets you headed in the right direction. I cannot give you a blue print on how to get back your lost glory without you knowing how you got there in the first place.
Seek out other campus leaders, advisors, and members of the campus community. They’ll be honest if you genuine want the truth and want to improve. Having successful philanthropies, intramurals, and other events are outward signs of a good chapter. They are the results of more intrinsic qualities found in truly valuable brothers, not just the Good Guys. Remember, people join people. Every question I hope you ask listed above is about the people, not the product.
Also, don’t hesitate to check out our books. The Fraternity Leader addresses some of the very issues you are concerned about.