by Matt Mattson
This blog normally focuses on fraternity/sorority recruitment. Marriage equality really has nothing to do with fraternity/sorority recruitment, so far as I can tell. But to my personal story, fraternity recruitment has a lot to do with me becoming an ally to the LGBTQ movement. And today seems like a good day to honor that.
So, I’d like to publicly thank my gay and bisexual chapter brothers for changing my life.
I’m sure our chapter wasn’t always the easiest place to be yourself — though I’m proud of the extent to which we tried to be inclusive. Despite our stupid jokes and constant immaturity, you influenced, inspired, and taught me (and I’m sure many others) about friendship, dignity, and struggle. I learned about “being a man” from the courage of our openly gay brothers and from the acceptance shown by most of our straight brothers. I learned about brotherhood when the man who recruited me to our chapter came out 1/2 way through my freshman year — to this small-town-straight-kid, that act was both shocking and beautiful. That experience and the countless late night conversations and moments of brotherly love shared with my gay fraternity brothers, changed who I am. I was exposed to my first PRIDE festival, I was recruited to volunteer for the LGBTQ student organization on campus, and I had stories (and friends) to share with my own family to help them understand homosexuality on a new level. I’m so thankful.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a trite “I have a gay friend” post. I’ve just been trying to find a way to express the joy I felt yesterday after the landmark Supreme Court ruling, and a rainbow profile pic (while cool) just wasn’t doing it for me.
Fraternity was such a transformative experience for me. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to it. Fraternity is not always the thing most people associate with LGBTQ rights. But for me, LGBTQ rights became something I cared deeply about ONLY because of fraternity. Thank you brothers. And may your marriages be forever full of joy.
by Matt Mattson
I posted something on Twitter last week that read, “Maybe we should replace the idea of ‘high quality’ new members with ‘low-risk/high-reward’ members. How do you select only the best?”
Of course, I thought this was both obvious and brilliant. I think these things about my Tweets. But it turns out not everyone on Twitter always agrees with me. This time though, I wasn’t getting trolled. Instead, a smart higher education professional engaged me in some thoughtful dialogue. LOVE IT!
Shannon McKechnie (@s_mckechnie) tweeted back at me, “I disagree – Our organizations should welcome all, celebrate diversity of experience and challenge all to grow.” and “We shouldn’t be creating an even deeper culture of exclusivity among collegiate leaders.”
I love conversations that challenge my assumptions and make me think. Even (especially!) when they happen within 140 character statements. Kudos to Shannon for offering a strong opinion. I think her point of view is not only valid and important, but reflected a blind spot in my point of view. I don’t think we necessarily disagree though.
As she and I discussed further via DM, I believe that fraternities and sororities can be both inclusive and selective at the same time. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. That’s not something I teach often though, and Shannon pushed me to consider how to do that better.
Fraternity/sorority members should be both INTENSELY SELECTIVE and INTENTIONALLY INCLUSIVE when selecting members, in my opinion.
By “selective,” I mean they should have clear, written, objective, values-based selection criteria they use to determine eligibility for membership. Some groups have this; most don’t.
By “inclusive,” I mean they should consider the obstacles to membership that might exist (probably exist) for certain groups of students on their campus — consider those of different race, different native language, different ability, different religious and cultural experiences, different sex/gender/sexuality identification, different socioeconomic background, different mental health challenges, and so on.
Once those obstacles are identified, many chapter leaders will be interested in exploring ways to remove those obstacles. Although, many obstacles will likely be complex and difficult.
This is an important area of education for student affairs professionals to explore. I know many are.
Here’s my basic belief: Fraternities and sororities are membership organizations. Membership organizations are made of members. Therefore the quality of your organization is directly correlated to the QUALITY of the members you bring in. I don’t think it’s very easy to make a great organization out of mediocre parts. Prospective members should be evaluated on the choices they’ve made. We have WAY too risky groups of women and men (mostly men) within our Greek fold. Fraternities and sororities should work hard to reduce risk early (prior to pledging or any level of membership). We can evaluate choices (to reduce risk) while still being fully inclusive. Greek Life is not, in my opinion, for everyone. We’ve allowed our chapters to be built from weak bricks for too long. This is the root of our cultural challenges within the fraternal movement.
All this is to say, KUDOS to Shannon. Let’s all continue to engage with each other in conversations that matter about fraternity/sorority life. Turns out, I think Shannon and I at least partially agree on a complex topic (not to speak for her). At the very least, I know that I’ve learned from her civil retort and continued discussion.
Phired Up Productions is so grateful to the over 130 Fraternity/Sorority professionals who joined us in Indianapolis on Monday for GROWTH SUMMIT/FRATERNITY CONSULTANT TRAINING 2015. The day was a huge success with education for many inter/national fraternity/sorority headquarters professionals.
There were specific education tracks for new consultants (many were there on their first day on the job!), seasoned consultants, expansion professionals, and director level headquarters staff. Recruitment, marketing, retention, technology, building staff culture, and many more topics were covered throughout the day.
Phired Up is proud to support the industry with this event. We gather together those charged with growth, all are invited, and create a space for learning, discussion, planning, and networking.
by Taylor Deer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a brother tell me that their ambitions are to be the “Top House” on campus. Followed up by some half baked statement trying to convince me that they are “probably top 3 right now” but its those damn [Insert Rival Chapter Here] who occupy the “Top House” spot on campus. Usually said with a hefty dose of resentment and disrespect towards that organization.
Whenever I hear that come from a chapter, it reinforces a creeping fear in my soul that proves to me that we have lost focus as Fraternity men. Saying you that your goal is to be the “Top House” is the same as saying that you want to be the most popular dudes on campus. To be clear, the reason I am using quotations around those words is because those words are subjective and extremely close to not being real. “Top House” exists in your brain, in your thoughts, in your desperate psyche. It is a subjective measurement of achievement only given through the jaded and biased opinions of your peers who are equally as confused about the subject.
What bothers me is that the “Top House” on a campus has too much to do with their social standing. Who they do mixers with and how ambitious and creative their parties are. GPA, community service, or campus involvement play some sort of a factor in it, but somehow the conversation always comes back to “We’re trying to do more socials with [Insert Popular Sorority Here].”
I think Fraternities were created to be prestigious, not to constantly pursue popularity. It seems to me that our chapter’s image is just as important (if not more) as the service we provide to our communities.
Popularity is temporary, its a fleeting feeling that we all try to convince ourselves we have achieved constantly. Its the conversation that we have with ourselves that sounds like “Katie from [Insert Popular Sorority Here] says ALL her sisters like us, so that means were popular”. To me its a definition of success that we can only get if its given to us by others. Which almost never happens. And so we get caught in constantly scrambling to be the “Hot Topic” on campus by throwing crazier parties than the other houses.
Its like living life on a treadmill. You’re working hard, you’re sweating, but you are literally going nowhere.
To me prestige is what happens when popularity grows up. Prestige is built over time. It’s a deep respect that is slowly and consistently earned. Its a perception of quality that stays with you and isn’t slowed down by the thousands of flimsy opinions that people try and throw at you.
Popularity is the runner that only runs when its sunny and above 71 degrees, dresses up in the hot athletic trends and takes 10 selfies along his 1 mile run #running #watchmerunning #admiremeplease #recognizeme. Prestige is the runner that wakes up early everyday, runs when no one else is on the path, whether its a downpour or windy, and pushes themselves towards a goal because they are driven by a compelling purpose.
If you are concerning yourself with your chapters image. Are you chasing popularity to be liked? Or are you demanding prestige to be respected?
I know this isn’t directly about recruitment — that’s what we normally write about. But fraternities that are proud of themselves tend to recruit better. They exude confidence, they have a story that they’re proud of, and they work hard to maintain that pride. It’s hard to be proud of yourself if you’re always on the treadmill… always doing the 1 mile selfie run. Become prestigious, and you’ll attract others who value prestige over popularity.