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 have been with my fraternity at a smaller college for about 2 years now and it seems like the end of the road is nearing. When I was a freshman, I met some of the guys in the fraternity who were seniors at the time and they were all cool. But after I joined, they graduated the next semester leaving the rest of us having to rebuild my fraternity and recruit new members.
Well our chapter currently has less than 15 members and there is no drive to become better. There are no socials, not much campus involvement, and the interaction with other sororities/fraternities is not what I want it to be. It seems there is no direction and it is starting to cause me to think to myself if I want to continue being apart of the chapter.
I know that nothing is perfect but I expected to have more fun and have a better college experience by joining a fraternity at my school. I want to do more things, but my brothers are fine with the normal ‘go to meetings’ and not do much of anything else. It is a bad feeling seeing the other fraternities at my campus thriving and being popular with all of the students when most of the people do not recognize us as a fraternity at school. Please help because I hate quitting on people and just giving up with commitments, but I’m starting to have thoughts about leaving the chapter.
I am going to tell you right now to not even let the thought of leaving your chapter cross your mind. Once you put that on the table as an option, it tends to overwhelm every other idea out there. Option A might be too tough. Option B might be too slow. Not enough people would go with Option C. Those negative thoughts come from keeping the quitting option on the table. We have to start our discussion on what to do next without quitting being on the table.
Next, you can hang in there. By seeking out help and wanting to rebuild your fraternity means that you are already most of the way there. It’s easy to find the way to do it when the will to do it is there. Everything else after this paragraph is doable. I assure you that you can do this. Even if it isn’t perfect, you will learn more by trying to improve your chapter than by walking way. That experience in and of itself is worth the price of the struggles that may come.
The beautiful thing about a small campus is that your chapter is able to recover more quickly and more efficiently than other campuses. It makes it easier to answer the following questions about your chapter:
– Why do we have a damaged relationship with other Greek Organizations?
– Why are we not engaged in the campus community?
– Why is motivation and participation so low?
– Who in the chapter is enabling these issues or setting the negative trend?
– Who on campus can be the engine of change?
– What are other chapters doing that we are not?
If you take some time to really examine those questions and talk to the people that can give you answers, then you can start building a plan. Trust me, Greek men that didn’t choose you and Greek women that want nothing to do with you will tell you exactly what they are thinking. You’ll be shocked at how cooperative they will be if you ask and genuinely want their feedback. They’ll be so stunned, they’ll help you more than you know.
With small schools, you are one great recruiting class away from turning the corner and making real improvements. So what if only 5 of your brothers are on your side? So what if the entire chapter isn’t a part of the plan? If the small group of motivated brothers goes out (with the information from those questions above) and starts a new trend for your chapter, your recruiting class will be big enough to drown out the voices of discontent. On a small campus, you don’t have to look very hard to find smart, motivated, young men who can become great brothers. Small campuses also tend to be a draw for people that want to be connected on campus and more involved in student groups. It’s a target rich environment, even if the sheer number of targets is not incredibly high.
My chapter was in a similar, albeit less dire, situation. We nearly doubled our chapter size in one class of high energy young men and really made great improvements as a chapter. You can do this too. You have allies in your chapter that will help.
My last statement is more of a story than anything. There is a crowd of people walking briskly down a city street. A man on a bench stands up and declares, “Those are my people. I must go with them so that I can lead them”. His friend looks at him with confusion and replies, “Why follow the crowd to lead? Walk confidently this way and they will follow where you lead them.”
In your chapter, you can lead in a different direction. Obviously, the old way is not working. Walk confidently where you feel is best for your chapter with the information to lead.
This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and frequent contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!