by Haley Cahill-Teubert
I was working on an entirely different blog piece earlier in the week that lead me to Google: “Characteristics of Type A personality”. Here is the result:
(Side note: Can my fellow Type A friends agree that “hostile” and “aggressive” aren’t the most flattering of adjectives to describe us?)
I did a bit more reading and found some other descriptions of Type A and Type B personalities.
Anyhow, when I read this my mind went straight to recruitment. If recruitment had two personality types, formal recruitment would totally be Type A and informal recruitment or continuous open bidding would be Type B.
When I think of formal recruitment on a large campus, I tend to associate it with words like: competitive, critical, fast-paced, time-bound. Sounds pretty Type A, right?
When I think of COB though, I associate it with things like: relaxed, laid-back, flexible. It kind of puts the (Type) B in COB, yes?
Just like Type A and Type B folks thrive in their own ways based on their own personality distinctions, chapters on campuses across the country thrive in different recruitment settings.
Some members and/or chapters like the neat and tidy structure that comes with a formal recruitment experience. It has time limits, rules and quotas. The details have been perfected–outfits, door stacks, clapping patterns–the works. It’s a fast-moving environment, with pressure to make fast connections via fast conversations. There’s an end goal and part of that goal is to come out on top. And I’m willing to bet the chapters with predominantly Type A members are the chapters who appreciate formal recruitment. (Is it possible to LOVE formal recruitment? Type A friends, let me know, please.)
Other individuals and/or chapters prefer the slower pace that comes with an informal recruitment process or COB where structure is loosely defined and pressure for perfection is minimal. Few things are timed, the need to be best is nearly non-existent and stress levels are low. Type B friends, am I speaking your language?
So why does this matter?
I’ve had some recent discussions with chapters who are participating in COB for the first time in years… Or ever. It was initially super interesting to me how overwhelming, stressful and unnatural COB feels for so many.
But then it started to make sense. Sure, a different recruitment structure (or lack thereof) can be stressful because it’s uncharted territory. But I also think it’s worth exploring that for many of these chapters, maybe that source of stress comes from simple personality differences. Perhaps COB is stressful for many of us because we are used to being in control, having rules, time limits, structure and competition. In true Type A fashion, it’s only natural for some of us to be anxious when we don’t have those things–those things are a large part of our identity, not just our recruitment preferences.
So how do you embrace the Type B recruitment life when you’re a Type A person, or part of a largely Type A chapter?
I could tell you you need to stop stressing. Relax. Embrace it. It’s got to be done. But if I know anything about Type A friends, I know that’s not effective.
Instead, let me offer these thoughts:
Speaking to your goal-oriented side, you’ll be happy to know COB is in fact very goal-oriented. The goal may be smaller in quantity, but that doesn’t make it smaller in quality. Maybe your goal in formal recruitment was to hit quota and welcome 100 new members into your chapter, but you welcomed 94. Sounds like it’s time to adjust the goal. New goal: 6. The number may change, but the quality of human you are recruiting does not.
Speaking to your competitive and status-minded nature, you may be interested to know COB has a surprising competitive edge. In formal recruitment, you likely feel the need to somehow be better than every other chapter. That spirit of competition exists in formal recruitment, but with COB, the only chapter you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday. COB is an opportunity to continue to grow your chapter by offering bids to extremely qualified women who will enhance your chapter in new ways. You get the opportunity to be better than you were the day prior by being in a position to extend bids to women who don’t yet belong to a chapter. You don’t have to wait a whole year to be better than you were yesterday. You get that opportunity with every opening you have and bid you extend.
Speaking to your controlling tendencies (sorry–there’s no pleasant way to say that), you’ll probably be happy to know that because COB is much more laid back and less time-consuming, you can allocate more time and energy to other areas in life you need to control. Many of us feel like formal recruitment tends to control our lives when it’s happening, rather than us controlling recruitment. You know what I mean–when our lives becomes constant states of song practice, outfit review and decor prep. With all the time spent on formal recruitment, we lose our grip on other things. How about a recruitment structure that allows you to have control over other areas of life while still meeting your chapter’s goals? COB for the win.
Speaking to your impatient side, COB may irk you a bit, but you know what might make you even more impatient? Countless standards meetings and chapter votes surrounding members who want to withdraw from your chapter. Retention workshops because people are experiencing misaligned expectations and want to leave the chapter. With COB, you can make more meaningful connections without the pressure of timed rounds, and you can portray your chapter and membership expectations more authentically… Which might just mean extending bids to people who have a really good grasp on what it means to be a member of your organization and who truly want that. More COB now might mean less headache later.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to COB. (The lack of frills is my personal favorite.) Maybe it’s uncharted territory, but rather than fear it, I encourage you to recognize which elements actually compliment your personality traits so you can embrace the Type B life (and be successful with it) when you’re more of a Type A human or chapter.
by Alonzo Cee
As some would say, joining culturally-based fraternal organizations is a serious matter. A sentiment that can sometimes reside in the fear of having folks join for the wrong reasons. And this fear is legitimate for organizations that are smaller compared to their historically white counterparts. To also be tied to a long history of social justice and uplifting people of color, it becomes imperative to continue the legacy and only allow those who align with the values of our organizations to join.
While this may sound great in theory as a way to protect and safeguard our organizations, in practice it actually creates more walls and overcomplicates the process to join. Less related to intake, however, it is that our unwritten rules are quite simply outdated. The ways that we as members weed out those that are interested before they even make it to applying to our organizations is problematic. The problem is entrenched around assumptions of what prospective members are supposed to know. The reality is that students may not be legacies or may not have grown up with these organizations present in their lives before getting to college.
In my case, Alpha skipped a generation in my family. My grandfather served as a Regional Vice-President before I was even born and passed away when I was ten. My father never joined, and my mother is from Europe and only knew of Greek life through what was on the news or in movies. I use this to say that when I went to Elon University, I did not know anything about NPHC or Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I did not know of the history, the traditions, the service, or the commitment to uplifting humanity. I did not know what discretion meant and that I was not supposed to show visible interest (I did not know how to show interest in general). I did not know about the lifelong commitment, and I did not know of the unwritten rules to joining these prestigious organizations.
What I knew was this. I saw Black men that were a part of something bigger than just themselves. I saw Black men who strived to be leaders and advocates that served the community. That is why I joined. I was thankful for the opportunity and thankful for my prophytes seeing the value that I was going to add to the organization. I was thankful that even though I was ignorant to some of the unwritten rules, I was given a chance. This gave me access to a platform and countless opportunities inside and outside of Elon to positively impact communities.
It is understandable to want to protect or safeguard our organizations, while also upholding the traditions and history (to a certain extent). However, to expect that prospective members continue to know these nuances of joining is unreasonable and hurts our organizations’ ability to recruit quality members.
We sometimes close the door on prospective members before opening it, not realizing the ways in which they could have positively contributed to our purpose. As members of culturally-based fraternal organizations, we have to do better with recruiting members, instead of setting incredibly high standards that we rarely communicate in the first place. Standards that often end up being greater than those we have for folks currently in our own organizations. Instead, I have some suggestions that may be helpful, especially in being more open-minded:
Let’s be clear, when I say recruitment, I’m not talking about Panhellenic or IFC. It looks different for us. Recruiting members is not something to be thought of with a negative connotation. For organizations that already struggle with numbers, we cannot afford to think harder, when we could be thinking smarter. Besides, the more quality members we have, the more impactful our organizations will be.
About Alonzo Cee:Alonzo Cee was born in Harlem, New York City and is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Higher Education at Elon University. He currently works for the Center for Leadership. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Statistics at Elon University as well. Alonzo was initiated into the Sigma Delta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in the fall of 2015. Alonzo serves as a member of Phired Up’s Culturally Based Fraternal Growth Committee.