dead weight

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 we do when members and officers aren’t committed to their fraternity responsibilities? The minority sees that “dead weight” needs to be trimmed, but every time the idea is proposed, everyone starts attacking!


I understand how frustrating this situation is for you.  It is very difficult for guys like you and I who are super dedicated to their fraternity to realize why other brothers don’t seem to care about it as much.

We have to realize that the fraternity just isn’t as important to some brothers as it is to others.  This is unfortunate, but is true for all membership organizations.

Be mindful though that it is probably equally frustrating for the ‘dead weight’ brothers in your fraternity.  The last thing they want is to get their balls busted all the time for not being active enough.  They will slowly start drifting farther away from the fraternity because of this.

To solve this problem, your fraternity needs to establish minimum standards for what is expected out of a brother in your chapter.

Once those standards are established, leave the brothers alone that meet them.   If the brothers don’t meet them, then expel them from your fraternity.

It is imperative that your brotherhood agrees to leave the brothers alone that meet the minimum standards.  This will be very difficult to do.  However, the effort and energy of your brothers is much better focused on improving the fraternity.

TJ Sullivan does a great job explaining this situation in his book – Motivating the Middle.

This would be a great resource for fraternity leaders who have this problem.

Good luck.

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.

2 thoughts on “What to Do with Dead Weight Fraternity Brothers

  1. Dennis – I agree with your point that the local chapter should not have the power to expel. My intent is that they go through the proper channels (which should be alumni governing bodies) to do so.

    However, I disagree with the notion of hanging on to brothers just because we don’t want to expel them. If the chapter establishes minimum requirements that every brother agrees upon, and a brother refuses to meet them, then he is a cancer to the fraternity and must be removed.

    Of course, every attempt should be made to get the brother to meet those minimum standards. There are probably reasons why the brother isn’t meeting those standards. Realizing those issues is essential before expulsion. No one likes kicking a brother out.

    But letting those members who refuse to adhere to the chapter’s standards is a tremendous drain on the brotherhood. Removing these brothers will make the chapter stronger in the long run.

  2. I don’t like how quick you jumped to “expel them.” Hopefully there is a system of incentives on one side and incremental punishments on the other, with every attempt to salvage members.

    I would just mention a couple things. What are those expectations? Do you expect a member to be at countless mandatory events, doing hours upon hours of community service, making a high GPA, etc. It has to be reasonable. You have to understand that the guy working 40hrs a week to pay for school while majoring in physics isn’t likely to perform the same way as a poly sci major getting an allowance from the parents every week. Universities, IFCs, & Nationals are all famous for saddling us with far more than many college students have time to do. In many ways a fraternity is good because it averages those requirements across the membership rather than taxing everyone. It is exactly those overwhelmed and overly busy students who benefit most from a fraternity that provides the logistics of their social life and friendships that they may not otherwise have enough spare time to pursue to the level they need for fulfillment. You need to seek balance and keep your expectations reasonable. Please do as part of this process evaluate what you’re asking of your members and why. Shave off things that aren’t really needed. You can keep them, but make them voluntary or incentive based rather than mandatory. Don’t punish people who can’t do as much as you can. They are not your problem members. The apathetic negative guys that do have all the time & money in the world and just feel like causing problems are. Know and differentiate between the two.

    Secondly, I don’t like expelling people at all. Everywhere I’ve gone we’ve adjusted the local policy to say that the chapter is not allowed to expel anyone for any reason. They can temporarily suspend and make a recommendation for removal to the alumni governing board, but they can’t directly remove members. I like it this way because it makes the alumni the bad guys rather than your members having to deal with the personal impacts of feeling like they’re betraying a brother. It lessens the negative implications on the brotherhood and gives you a better chance of retaining that guy’s best friend who is going to be very pissed off when this goes down. It also gives another look at the information from a group of people who have had a lot more experience with the good and bad of fraternity operations. Lean on those guys for help. If you don’t have that kind of support, recruiting it with your national’s help should be a higher priority than dealing with this problem.

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