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I Don’t LOVE Recruitment

by Matt Mattson

I don’t love recruitment. But recruitment loves me.

Let me tell you why I don’t love recruitment.

The way people join our organizations is messed up. The process, no matter the type of organization you’re a part of, is dripping with insecurity, inauthenticity, immaturity, and a lack of ingenuity. There is unnecessary pressure, uncalled for shadiness, unexamined systems of baked in oppression, and underperformance everywhere you look. The way people join our organizations sets subtle expectations of raucous debauchery, reinforces problematic heteronormativity, leverages the cheapest and most embarrassing psychosocial pressure points felt by young people, and creates unnecessary artificial barriers between good people and good opportunities.

All that, and it yields less than a 10% market share, results in greater than 20% attrition rates, costs the industry tens of millions of dollars, burns out young professionals like crazy, and according to several studies, measurably decreases the mental well being of all involved.

And now it’s all going to be done via zoom or while wearing a face mask!

I do not love recruitment.

But recruitment loves me. And probably most of you.

Because when my organization found me and created a pathway to my membership, it was one of the greatest acts of love I’ve ever experienced in my life.

That’s what recruitment (or marketing or whatever you call the stuff you do to attract, select, and secure the right members to your organization)… that’s what recruitment should be: an act of pure love. I do this work because I believe we are called to love. We are called to share brotherly love, sisterly love, sibling-level, family level, deep and true love with people during their one of the most vulnerable and important moments in their life.

Is the way you attract, select, and secure members an act of pure love?
Or is it built to satisfy your selfish needs?
Or is it built to intimidate?
Or is it built to break others down?
Or is it built to scrape the bottom?
Or is it built to pay the bills?
Or is it built to make things even between chapters?
Or is it built to judge, demean, and downplay?
Or is it built to get by, meet quota, or survive another semester?
Or is it built to satisfy the powers that be?
Or is it built to impress others?

I’m choosing to take this moment that is constructed of societal upheaval, discomfort, and an utter destruction of so much that was once normal… and I want to make this a time that we simplify, focus, and act.

The way people join our organizations is a concentrated dose of who we really are and what we’re really about. It’s a distillation of our truest self. It’s a glimpse at our organization’s soul.

It must be an act of love. That is what we know we want sororities and fraternities to be. Love. But we never say it. We never name it.

I’m naming it. I’m calling for a collective commitment to LOVE as our industry’s shared mission.

No longer should we confuse others by claiming we’re about leadership, scholarship, service, philanthropy and the other generic words we have leaned on for too many decades, but have failed to clearly define our value in the minds of 90% of potential investors. We should come out and say it. WE ARE ABOUT LOVE. And then we should show it.

Especially in the way we grow. We should shed everything that doesn’t look like love.

If it’s selfish and about us, it’s not love. Get rid of it.
If it’s prideful and creates intimidation, it’s not love. Get rid of it.
If it’s lazy and cheap and surface-level, it’s not love. Get rid of it.
If it pits anyone against anyone else, it’s not love. Get rid of it.

When I joined my organization, it was an act of love. I was shown real love in such simple ways. I was loved by the person who introduced me to my chapter. I was loved by the members who said they saw real potential in me. I was loved when they promised me they’d never haze me or disrespect me. I was loved when they asked me how I wanted to contribute. I was loved when they made sure I was committed and ready before it was official. I was loved when they welcomed me with hugs and cheers. And I continue to be loved by that organization today.

Here’s your agenda for the next meeting on how you’re going to grow sorority and fraternity life… simply ask, “HOW CAN WE MAKE IT AN ACT OF LOVE?” Then discuss until you’ve come up with a plan to do that and only that.

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“Why Don’t They Do Blind Member Selection?”

by Matt Mattson

Just recently I was conducting a focus group of non-Greek student leaders for a campus on the east coast. We do these focus groups as part of our marketing work for sorority and fraternity communities. (They are always amazing!)

During the focus group, one woman named Savannah asked something brilliant.

“Why don’t they do blind member selection?”

The focus group participants were respectfully and thoughtfully offering feedback on the ideas that historically white sororities were not diverse and how there seemed to be “a look” that someone had to have to get in. They acknowledged that this might be a misperception, but it was a perception nonetheless.

And so, Savannah’s question is ringing loudly in my ears. Why don’t fraternities and sororities do blind member selection? (Maybe we could call it something different than “blind” like “anonymous” or something, but we’ll tackle that later)

We say we’re about values and almost all leaders I talk to describe a desire to be inclusive and diverse.

Especially in this time of deep introspection and exploration of racism (and other systems of oppression) being present in the joining process of fraternities and sororities.

This is not a wild concept. The professional HR world has been experimenting with it (here and here for example).

In an age of emerging digital and virtual recruitment processes for fraternities and sororities, who will be the first organization to experiment with a blind recruitment and selection process? Imagine the market position that organization could take, “We are the only fraternal organization that actually selects purely on objective values-based criteria. We don’t consider looks. We remove racial and other oppressive biases from our process. We review applications of highly qualified people, consider their risk assessment, consider their values-alignment, and consider the value they want to add to our organization. We are excited to meet these highly aligned and qualified people upon giving them an invitation for membership!”

Are many readers immediately naming all the downsides to this idea? Yes. But please take some time to list all the downsides to our current selection process. Let me help you get started.

  • Most chapters actually know very little about potential members before they’re selected.
  • Nearly zero chapters are screening potential members for risk factors.
  • Perceived physical attractiveness is DEFINITELY a factor used by many chapters to select their members.
  • The selection process of nearly every fraternal organization includes a lot of subjectivity and opportunity for bias to creep in.
  • Individual members (who are racist, homophobic, ablist, etc.) have a high amount of power in current selection processes – especially black-ball style processes.

Next question: What if we made it “double blind” or “fully anonymous” (we really have to work on naming this idea). But what if PNMs chose based only on legitimate objective information? That might be too much for today, but we’re ready to get into the conversation (and to build software, education, and tools to start experimenting).

We are hoping to work with interested professionals and organizations to experiment with blind/anonymous selection processes for the industry to learn from. We’re seeking partners now. Please email matt@phiredup.com.

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The Complete Guide to Virtual Recruitment

“Virtual Recruitment.” Or wait, maybe we’re calling it “Digital Recruitment.” You know what, we’ll use both terms in this resource just to make sure everyone’s as comfortable as we can be while we’re adapting to a rapidly changing world. But you will adapt. And Phired Up & TechniPhi are here to help. This page is a compilation of all the best resources we’ve built on doing virtual recruitment. Please share this resource widely.

Here are some shortcuts to specific resources we’ve built.

Digital (or non-face-to-face) recruitment will look and feel a little different, and it will take on myriad forms throughout the fraternity/sorority world. But smart recruiters will keep these principles of digital recruitment in mind.

  1. SPAM IS BAD. The tendencies of many fraternity/sorority members will be to try the fastest, cheapest, and easiest method to “get your name out there” digitally. This is SPAM and SPAM is bad. Focus on trust-building. Focus on permission-based-marketing. Focus on generosity. Focus on highly personal outreach. Focus on being as HUMAN as possible in a digital space. Anything that feels like a mass-approach is the wrong approach.
  2. DON’T RUSH IT. Going from a stranger without a face straight to, “HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT JOINING A SORORITY/FRATERNITY?” ummm.. That’s a bad idea. Little steps. Stranger > Acquaintance > Friend > Prospect > Hot Prospect > Close the deal. Don’t skip steps (unless they’re asking you to skip steps).
  3. SCALE REQUIRES ORGANIZATION. If you’re operating digitally, you’re probably operating at a larger scale than you’re used to. More people. More points of contact. Less big events (macro interactions) where everyone is together all at once, and instead a whole bunch of micro interactions. That’s going to require you to be super organized. Have a good tracking mechanism. We recommend ChapterBuilder. Keep track of every interaction. We’re sure you’re already familiar with our other technologies, but they’re all very relevant within a digital recruiting landscape. Learn more here.
  4. FORMAL TAKES ON A NEW MEANING. Digital recruitment might be more formal than you’re used to (and we’re not talking about rounds and rules and process). Your conversations and interactions might look and feel more like interviews than “hangouts.” That’s o.k. In fact, it might end up being good. There’s good research to show that non-Greek students already know we’re fun, but they don’t know much else about us. Maybe more formal interactions will mean they have higher expectations about what it means to be a fraternity/sorority member. Members will likely have longer more meaningful, in-depth conversations with prospective members than what can happen during an event, a presentation, or a “round” of recruitment.
  5. PURPOSE OVER PEOPLE. This one might be controversial. In a digital recruitment environment, it is likely that prospective members will make more head-based decisions than heart-based decisions. In other words, they might not join because “they like the members.” They might join because they understand the value the organization will have in their life and they are inspired by the purpose (not just by the people). We don’t necessarily think this is bad. You’ll become friends along the way. But if new members join for the PURPOSE and fully understand the value of membership up front (beyond having close friends), they’ll likely engage with the organization in different (better) ways as members.
  6. RE-PRIORITIZE. In the past, parity, fairness, rules, and structure might have been the priorities. Those were priorities for a reason, but they might need to change in this new environment. Social capital, showing off, flexin’, swag, large-group-everything, house tours, events, presentations, handshakes… these might have been the priorities of the past. Those made sense then, but they might need to change in this new environment. Decide what is truly most important to you today. Make a list of your own principles. Build a plan based on that list.
  7. YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT WRONG. Sad face, right? But we all are. It’s o.k. We’re adjusting and inventing on the fly. Do not aim for perfection, aim for compassion and care. Don’t worry about what should happen, worry about what could be. Know your values. Focus on them fully, and execute to the best of your ability in a way that aligns with your values and makes you feel like you’re being good human beings.
  8. EMPOWER SMALLER GROUPS. This is going to be a difficult one. We’re used to a very inclusive holistic democratic approach to recruitment. Most of the time most chapters want all of their members to participate so that all members can meet all prospects and then everyone votes on everyone. That is going to be difficult. Good news… we have plenty of models of representative democracy around us to learn from… we know how to empower small groups of leaders with clear expectations of how to make decisions on behalf of the larger whole. Trust and transparency will be the secret sauce that makes all this work.
  9. DON’T FORGET THE BASICS. Just because it is digital recruitment, doesn’t mean core philosophies don’t hold true. Your plan has to be Dynamic, not static. You still have to be Socially Excellent.  All the “basics” hold true (but the handshakes are digital now). Values must lead! We will grow fraternity and sorority by demonstrating fraternity and sorority… whether that’s on-line or in-person. This is still a relationship business; the methods of building those relationships might just need to be altered slightly.

Before we get to detailed tactics and plans, let’s take a moment to imagine some basic case studies so that you can picture this in your mind. These are from our staff…

A Panhellenic Example
Imagine a Panhellenic community that mimics rounds on a video-interview style platform. Each PNM might receive a schedule followed by links (for UberconferenceZoom or Google Hangout meetings) and times to log on. On the chapter side, each bump group might have X-1 links for their group if they have 4 women recruiting in the same room (If they are a bump group of 4, they have 3 links and talk to 3 women) and rotate members in front of computer screens. If completely remote, chapter members can “bump” by sending the PNM the video link to the sister they talk to next in the round. Imagine PNMs receive a link to “interview/chat” with a designated chapter member for the allotted time. She can screen share some photos to talk about their experiences etc. If the chapter wants to share a common message, they create a recorded video that the chapter member shares with the PNM (maybe one for each round). On the bright side… these video convos would likely be longer than a normal bump rotation. Chapters who use MyVote’s advanced matching feature could easily generate suggested matches to designate what PNM speaks to what chapter member. Each chapter could host a digital “pre” round on MyVote where chapter members can review PNM’s profiles and make matching recommendations on what chapter members they think would be a good conversation match. Recruitment counselors could host an Uberconference room and be available to login and chat whenever a PNM wants to hop in. She could ask questions/gauge the group by using tools like Mentimeter. Councils can continue to use CampusDirector paired with the PNM Companion App to enter preferences and complete the MRABA. Bids could easily be distributed digitally or in a more personal manner with Panhellenic exec members doing a two-minute video call with each PNM (depending on the size of the community).

A CBFO Example
Imagine an MGC chapter that starts by building a prospect list from three key pipelines: a) Instagram Follow/Follow-Back/DMs to incoming and current students, b) A list acquisition from a multicultural affairs office, and c) A small scholarship managed entirely through social media and texting for targeted incoming students. They conduct interviews for the scholarships, of course. They also host three “Virtual Informational Meetings” using a tool like Zoom. They push out 3 simply and affordably made videos that feature their members talking about their values/purpose, what they’re seeking in prospects, and answers to the most commonly asked questions (i.e. What does your process look like? What if I can’t afford it? Do I have to be from a certain demographic?). Each prospect goes through a series of group interviews, and all final top prospects get a one-on-one interview with each executive board member. This is a lot of interviews and video calls, but it is worth it.

An IFC Example
Imagine an IFC council that creates an experience for potential members that starts in the spring and continues through the fall, entirely via digital media. The council launches a major paid social media inbound ad campaign, conducts a scholarship for “Incoming Gentlemen,” executes some major Instagram DM’ing, conducts direct email, phone call, and texting work to a list acquired from the university, and does virtual “town halls” targeted to local communities from which a lot of incoming students typically come. They then conduct two weeks of on-line potential member orientation classes, “virtual fun” events, video releases, live video presentations, small group and one-one-one video interviews, and a final live bid presentation “show” (that seems like the NBA draft). Here is one very relevant resource, and another that might give more insight for this particular example.


This is not meant to be an all-inclusive or perfect list of digital tactics and plans for your plug and play usage. These are meant to demonstrate digital possibilities. It is so important to live in possibilities and solutions right now. We CAN do this (should we need to). Sure there are obstacles. We’re leadership organizations, so now it’s time to lead and come up with new solutions to the new challenges we’ve been presented.


  • Inbound Marketing: “Outbound” marketing is about “getting your name out there.” It’s fine. “Inbound” marketing is about marketing efforts that result in getting people to share their name, contact information, ideally more data about them, and permission to continue connecting with them. Almost all of your prospecting efforts should be “Inbound” marketing efforts. Chapters, councils, and entire communities (not to mention inter/national orgs and umbrella organizations) should be quickly investing heavily in smart inbound marketing efforts to build your prospective member lists.
  • Social Media: There are about a million ways to utilize social media to drive names onto your list. And they change every few months, it seems. Here are some basic ideas to consider to use social media for more than just showing off cool pictures of your members’ summer vacations.
    • FOLLOW/FOLLOW-BACK/DM: Follow incoming or current students from the chapter account. When they follow back that is an invitation to send a personal DM (making clear you’re not a robot) to invite a conversation about your organization (or just about regular stuff). Add them to your list.
    • PAID ADS: Purchasing advertisements on social media platforms is a smart and useful use of your money if those ads direct people to connect with you and give you their contact information. Use smart inbound marketing techniques that result in names on your list (hint: aim all interactions at a landing page that collects contact information)
    • SCOURING FOR CONNECTIONS: Nothing wrong with spending some time looking through individuals who have self identified as incoming students next year. Learn about them, connect with them if appropriate, offer to be helpful in their lives. Don’t be creepy, but do be smart enough to realize that they’re begging for connection before they get to college.
    • SEEK REFERRALS: Share the fact that you’re seeking to connect with “the best of the best” students through your chapter and personal social media feeds. Make clear who you’re seeking and don’t just post publicly, ask individuals and leaders of other student organizations privately through social media for those connections too.
    • COMMENT: See a current or incoming student posting some strong content? Let them know. Give them some social media love in genuine ways so that they know they’re being noticed. Invite further conversation in your comments.
  • List Acquisition: A list of incoming students, a list of current students, a list of Eagle Scouts at your institution, a list of students from key feeder high schools with intentions of enrolling, last year’s no-bid list, a list of student organization leaders. Ask anyone and everyone for access to lists. Use them responsibly and be as personal as possible with your outreach.
  • Referrals: “I’m trying to connect with the best of the best students on campus.” “I’m trying to identify students who care very much about helping to uplift our cultural history and those who share our heritage.” “I’m just seeking 5 incoming students that you think would be real change-makers.” Asking questions like that (via email, text, phone call, or social media) to as many people as you can possibly think of is probably going to yield better results than anything else we can recommend from a prospecting standpoint.
  • More Digital Prospecting Tactics: First open this document of “60 Tactics for Meeting Non-Affiliated Students,” and consider that the following could all be done digitally (with slight adaptations): Recruitment Scholarship, Sorority/Fraternity Referrals, Mind Joggers, Partnering with Select Organizations, Non-Greek Surveys, Ask The Rest to Find The Best, Professor and Class Referrals, Alumni Referrals, No-Bid List/Past Recruitment Lists, On-Line Referrals, Resource Center, Chunking, Scouting, Parent Solicitations, Referrals from High Schools, Presentations to Student Organizations, Niche Targeted Marketing, Top 20 Lunches & Coffees, Crossword Puzzle Help, High School Pipelines, Positive Absurdity, Organize Study Groups, Advocacy, Make it Easy To Sign Up, Text For…Something,.


  • Registration: This is an easy one. It’s almost entirely digital on most campuses now already. If you use CampusDirector, our team can help you optimize your registration process to make it as easy as possible for PNMs and for your community to collect the right information. If you’re not using a registration tool, it’s time to start. Having a single simple way for someone to officially indicate interest in fraternities and sororities on your campus is a must-do in this environment. CampusDirectorChapterBuilder’s Council Dashboard, Google Forms… whatever it takes. Make sure there’s a single central place for all of your prospecting and pipelining efforts to funnel interest into.
  • Potential Member Orientation: There are plenty of campuses and communities who are already doing pretty intense PNM orientations digitally. We recommend reaching out to Florida State as a model community for this. They’re doing it for all councils, and their Panhellenic digital PNM orientation is second to none. TechniPhi’s PNM Companion App can do most of the heavy lifting of this process for you as well.
  • Videos: Marketing, promotional, and recruitment videos are not new. In fact, many organizations have gotten pretty good at them. You might be wondering how to make a great one. Good news. We have instructions for that right here.
  • Texts and Phone Calls: Let’s be honest. A lot of digital recruitment is likely to be done via text message. Here’s an example of an effective outgoing text message to someone who just got onto your list through some prospecting efforts: “[Name!] This is Alex. My friend KC connected with you on Instagram. We’re trying to connect with incoming students to talk briefly about involvement on campus. I’d love to FaceTime or video call this week. Does Thursday or Friday afternoon work better for you?”
  • Live Presentations: In place of informational meetings, house tours, “Meet the Greeks,” portions of recruitment orientation, chapter presentations on their philanthropic work or preference round presentations could all (conceptually) be delivered live via webinar software (ZoomAnyMeetingUberconference, etc.)
  • One-on-One Meetings: There will almost certainly be more on-on-one meetings in a digital recruitment scenario. There are professional fraternity/sorority recruiters who basically only do referrals, texting, and one-on-one meetings to build a chapter from scratch. And those one-on-one meetings can absolutely be done through FaceTime, Skype, Google Meet, etc. Here’s a resource for how to conduct a great one-on-one meeting.
  • Formal Interviews (1:1 or Group): At some point (whether we’re doing face-to-face or digital recruitment), every potential member should probably be interviewed formally. Maybe multiple times. Plenty of major businesses conduct employee interviews all on-line, and there’s no reason this can’t become a staple part of a digital fraternity/sorority recruitment experience.
  • Virtual Fun: Admittedly, face-to-face fun is more fun than virtual fun. But work with what you’ve got. Consider streaming multiplayer video games, virtual Netflix watch parties, board games on-line, group video chats while doing service work, shared playlists and discussions, and more. Our world is quickly coming up with lots and lots of new ways to have fun in groups while everyone is located in a different place.
  • Potential Member Pitch Videos and Application Packets: It is not unimaginable for fraternities and sororities to require significant digital pitch packets, personal videos, and deep applications from prospective members in order for them to be considered for membership. Some organizations already require some of these things.
  • Questions & Answers: We recommend getting started right now with written and video answers to these questions that are easily accessible on-line to potential members and their parents.
  • Membership Selection: We already have one tool that many Panhellenic chapters are using for digital membership selection from their own personal mobile device. MyVote. Let us know if you want to talk through that tool or other alternatives for your needs.
  • Bids/Invitations: Giving an invitation for membership can easily be done virtually. We have a guide on how to give a bid appropriately (and ideally). Just do it via video call.

While this particular urgency is a surprise, the idea of digital recruitment is not shocking to us. We’ve been thinking about it.

Until we’ve created Match or eHarmony for fraternities and sororities (and yes, we’re talking about it), the above list is a good approximation of what “digital recruitment” could look like starting right now.

Phired Up is ready to help. And here’s to hoping and praying that things go back to normal (whatever “normal” means).

Kickin' It

Kickin’ It with Sean Austin & Pi Lambda Phi

by Matt Farrell

Phired Up and TechniPhi are sharing stories of growth professionals across the industry. 

Below are highlights from a recent conversation with Sean Austin, Director of Expansion at Pi Lambda Phi Headquarters. Our Phired Up conversation prompts are labeled in bold, and the rest is in Sean’s words. 

If you are a brother of Pi Lambda Phi, or recruiter anywhere, you will learn a lot from this story. 



Sean Austin, Director of Expansion at Pi Lambda Phi Headquarters


Why Recruitment Matters

The importance of recruitment definitely didn’t hit me as an undergrad.

It hit me more as a financial advisor shortly after graduation.

I quickly realized that the growth of my business would only be a result of two things: my time or effort, and my skill.

Obviously, skill was going to be limited since I was new, and the process of improving that was going to be slow. So, I quickly started thinking more about how I was spending time effectively to build and advance relationships.

I was also learning growth strategy through running an adult kickball league, which is a crazy story.

I had just graduated from the University of Florida and moved back to Miami, where I’m from. I knew people but definitely needed to get up to speed since I’d been gone for four years. Some friends were playing in this Friday night kickball league and I went to check it out. It was perfect for young adults, you could meet people the same age and go out together after.

After my first season, I made friends with people who ran the league, and they hired me to help, which was a cool way to earn side money for something I did for fun. In doing so, helped them make the league bigger, mostly by figuring out why people were actually showing up.

The parallels to fraternity were pretty wild. When I got there, it was very competitive. We didn’t want to take that away, but we also knew most people were coming to make friends and have fun. As we focused on that in our marketing conversations and used that to get new relationships (and positive word of mouth), we became the largest World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) league in the country. At our peak we were over 600 members, which was much larger than we thought possible, and perhaps even somewhat unsustainable.

We also had to make sure people weren’t having too much fun so we could keep our permits, but it’s hard to manage risk.  So like I said, definitely some parallels to fraternity.

If you simply do a good job making friends, both sides are going to bring up their hobbies, likes, skills, and goals, and both sides are going to benefit. That’s a great opportunity for anyone who is recruiting anywhere.

Skills You Can Take From the Pros

It all starts with creating a Names List. That was rule #1 as a Financial Advisor, and it worked wonders in kickball too. For Pilam expansions, we use ChapterBuilder to store everything. Simply start by putting as many potential names in ChapterBuilder as possible. In an expansion, we create this with only one or two coordinators and we can still dig up over 1,000 names per school, regardless of size.

Our expansion response rate is generally low because people don’t know who we are yet. However, our existing chapters that do this have a much higher response rate because it’s coming from a student (and likely gets sent to Spam less from a student address). If you’re in a student org already, you can ask for their membership roster to offer your scholarships to. That grows your chapter’s Names List. Multiply that by each different organization your brothers are in and your marketing can reach the whole school!

Finally, you need a measurable goal. Part of that goal has to be your Names List. If you just say you want quality, that’s going to be a failure. That’s true for fraternity, and for any business you want to be in.

Why IHQ Is Getting More Involved With Chapter Growth 

Pi Lambda Phi is a unique experience that lets us cast a wide net. We want all of our chapters to have the best tools to reach everyone they can.

We want to coach you and learn from you. If all our chapters are using different recruitment or Names List systems, then we can’t coach them all properly. Our expertise with ChapterBuilder quickly lets us figure out what you need and what you’re doing well.

I can’t coach chapters that only use an Excel sheet. I can’t read the notes as they relate to SMART goals and they probably can’t either. So ChapterBuilder lets us build that system. If all our chapters are on the same system, it makes our ability to coach and improve their recruitment so much easier. We’re not there yet, but we want to get closer, especially in this current climate.

Our Ohio State chapter is a great example. In Fall 2018, we started a strong colony. They sparsely used ChapterBuilder the next term, using Excel instead because it was more familiar. However, they weren’t growing at the rate they should have. Then, we got them back on ChapterBuilder and everything changed.

Once they better understood what it was and how to effectively use it, the Ohio State chapter doubled. They were on a system and plan that the VP of Recruitment was able to track easily to hold members accountable to, and IHQ was able to quickly check in and adjust what they needed to do. They’ve improved each semester and just brought in a new member class of 30 this Spring.

At IHQ, we can’t figure out how to play to your strengths until we have the data for it. Even having data on language like “If I offered you a bid, what would you say” compared to “If I offered you a bid, would you say yes?” makes a difference. Simple, little tweaks like that can be the difference between which side of the fence your favorite recruits land on.

We want to help, and we’re excited about growing Pi Lambda Phi through these times!

How CampusDirector is Responding

How CampusDirector is Adapting to COVID-19

CONTACT: Ellen Chesnut
Carmel, Ind. — Phired Up and TechniPhi have been paying close attention to the changing dynamic of the fraternity/sorority industry and campus environments resulting from the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We truly appreciate our partnerships with campuses using TechniPhi’s recruitment technology, CampusDirector.
Earlier this month we posted this blog that promotes additional questions to consider asking PNMs during the registration process.  We have seen several communities adopt these questions on their registration form and start educating their chapters on how to benefit from this additional information.
In our conversations with campus communities across the country, we’ve observed that task forces have been created, contingency plans are in the works, and experiments with virtual rounds are starting to take form.  We our proud to say that when our partners come to us with ideas and feedback, we have always done our best to implement that feedback.  During this time of uncertainty, that is no exception.  That is why we have created three additional features for our campus partners to benefit from as they adapt to a different style of recruitment:
PNM Video Link Field
Wanting PNMs to share an introduction video? The new Video Link Field will allow PNMs to input a video link that will appear and be accessible through the MasterList. Additionally, it will be available in the PNM Information tab of MyVote for chapters leveraging that technology.
Video Conferencing Links in Schedules
Are you doing virtual rounds? Do you need an easy way to share video links in a PNM schedules? CampusDirector now allows the Council Admin an ability to input a video link for each chapter (Setup > Site Setup > Chapter List). This link will populate on the PNM’s schedule in the “Video Link” column. The button entitled “Link” will appear for each chapter, and PNMs can click on it and be taken to the conferencing room that was inputted on the Chapter List.
PNM Companion App
Worried about cleaning computer labs or large groups entering in priorities? CampusDirector has you covered with the PNM Companion App. This app will allow PNMs to enter their priorities on their phone. They can also access schedules, resources, and videos shared by the Council; the council still has the ability to turn access on or off and to require passcodes.
“It’s important as a technology company focused on transforming the way members join our organizations to adapt to an uncertain environment and help our partners be able to continue to successfully manage recruitment,” said Ellen Chesnut, TechniPhi’s Vice President. “Whether that be through new features or support, taking care of our clients will remain our number one priority.”
To learn more about CampusDirector, contact Ellen Chesnut at Ellen@TechniPhi.com.
About Phired Up & TechniPhi: Phired Up & TechniPhi help fraternities and sororities grow. Both company’s products, services, and brands are creating the future of fraternities and sororities by transforming the way people join. We deliver relationship-focused, data-driven, results-producing TECHNOLOGY, EDUCATION, and STRATEGY solutions for every aspect of the pre-member experience from first-impression through initiation.
How Racism Lives in Joining Processes

How Racism Lives in Modern Fraternity/Sorority Joining Processes

by Matt Mattson

Let’s start by saying this. YOU are probably not to blame. But YOU can help work against racist infrastructure and systems that linger in fraternity and sorority joining processes.

I should also open with a comment about which organizations we are mostly talking about here. “Historically white” fraternities and sororities. That term in itself is uncomfortable for many, but is both accurate and not an uncommon phrase. To be aware of which organizations we mean by using this term is a first acknowledgement of the fact that racism exists in fraternity and sorority joining processes.

This is not an all-encompassing list. This is not even a review of the pertinent research on the subject. These are simply observations from a guy who does fraternity/sorority growth education and consulting for a living. I look at this stuff all day long, so I happen to have a point of view that perhaps can see it a little better than others. And this is written by a white male who is a member of an IFC organization. I’m certainly blind to many things that I should see, and I invite others (see the bottom of this blog) to share their thoughts with me. I’m going to screw this up, I’m sure. But I’m hitting “post” anyway.

Oh, and this barely touches on the ways in which heterosexism, ableism, classism, religious oppression and more all live within the system.

If you are a student leader or a headquarters professional or a volunteer, please read this: These are observations about the system, not about you. They also aren’t observations about your organization. Nobody is suggesting that you are intentionally creating this. I mean, you might be contributing to these things, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. These are general observations. Here are four important questions to reflect on and discuss with other stakeholders after reading this.

  1. How is our chapter/council/organization contributing to these racist realities?
  2. How can we fight against these systemic realities?
  3. What else contributes to racism in the way we attract, select, and secure members to our chapter?
  4. What are we going to do about it right now?

Two more parenthetical notes before we dive in…

We (Phired Up & TechniPhi) know that WE ARE PART OF THE SYSTEM. A big part. And we own our role and responsibility. We have the technology much of IFC and Panhellenic recruitment runs through. We teach chapters how to be successful within the system. And we’re raising our hand here to say that we’re actively working to improve these things.

We can help you with this work (imperfectly). There are others that can help you with this work too. Nobody is asking the 19-20 year old VP of Recruitment to fix all this stuff today. We know it is a long-term commitment. We wish there was a short-term magic solution. We are ready to work alongside you to fight against racism and other forms of oppression showing up in the way people join fraternities and sororities.

Here are 10 Ways Racism Lives in Modern Fraternity/Sorority Joining Processes.

A Long History of Discriminatory Practices and Policies
It is really no secret that many fraternities and sororities have a history of discriminatory practices and policies. Many historically white fraternities and sororities were founded during a time when only white students were allowed to enroll in universities, and following that period many organizations had written policies that specifically allowed only white, Christian members. This history is not only known by many, but also features as a primary plot point in the story of why culturally-based fraternities and sororities exist. This background knowledge for students and their parents is perhaps the most obvious (but rarely discussed) factor in racism being a continuing presence in the joining process of fraternities and sororities today.

Blatant and Less Blatant Selection Practices
There have been any number of stories historically white fraternities and sororities potentially using race as a reason to reject a potential new member. Chapters throughout North America still use literal “blackball” systems of selection which allows one quiet racist or otherwise discriminatory member in the chapter to keep BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students or students from marginalized identities from getting in. And the conversations that members have during the selection process can be full of code words and phrases like “fit,” “he might not mesh with the guys,” or “she’s not going to feel like this is a place for her” that members use to justify the fact that race is, for some chapters, a factor in selection. (Sections of this passage were reinforced by this excellent research article by S. Brian Joyce titled, “PERCEPTIONS OF RACE AND FIT IN THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS OF TRADITIONALLY, PREDOMINANTLY WHITE FRATERNITIES” published in Oracle in February of 2018.)

Blatant Symbols of Historical White Supremacy
A potential member can walk into some fraternity houses across the country and see symbols of the confederacy on display over fireplace mantles and within fraternal paraphernalia. They might see pictures of men marching at night in hooded robes. They will often see old (and recent) composite pictures with nothing but white faces that tell a story about a chapter’s past and infer what selection criteria might be. What these symbols represent to organizational members doesn’t matter much when it comes to the perception of those symbols in the eyes of prospective members and their parents. And one chapter displaying these symbols (or with a reputation of racism from the past) tells a story to potential members and parents whether we like it or not.

We Have Groups For You Over There
Students of color are often told (explicitly or implicitly), “There are groups for you over there.” Or perhaps they’re asked, “Have you checked out NPHC or MGC groups on our campus?”

What Does A New Student See?
“Is this a group for people like me?” That’s a normal question many college students ask themselves, in one way or another, when they join any student organization. Any number of factors are likely to play a role in their own individual answer to this question. Race is certainly a factor for some students. Do they see people who look like them and share cultural identity with them? In many cases, the answer is simply no. Remember, racism doesn’t have to be intentional.

Legacies, Referrals, and Recommendations
At some institutions, the amount of legacies (individuals whose close relatives were members of that organization) showing interest in a particular fraternity or sorority chapter can be so high that new member classes can be nearly filled to capacity (in the minds of chapter leaders). Because many times the majority of these legacies are from white families, the mathematical possibility for a person of color to gain admittance to a historically white fraternity/sorority chapter on some campuses is exceptionally low. The same math holds true for referral pipelines and letters of recommendation. [Update: Policies have recently changed within NPC organizations which is worthy of celebration. Policies and practice are two different things.]

Continuing Racist Acts in the News

Fraternities and sororities have been featured as perpetrators of terrible acts of racism and racial violence on college campuses in recent years. Potential members and their families can read the news and Google related stories.

Language & Structure
Expansion and colonization have been named as problematic terms that conjure ideas of European imperialism and the genocide of indigenous peoples.

Here’s a tough pill for our team to swallow. Our own software was originally built to serve IFC and Panhellenic organizations, and the language within it (which is being written out in an upcoming iteration) implicitly excludes many non-historically white fraternities and sororities. To build upon language, we need to look at the details of the infrastructure. Here’s a quote from one of our developers about our current fraternity/sorority growth technologies as we’ve looked at them with critical eyes this week, “We have an app that lets people assign scores to their peers based on criteria that could disadvantage them, and another that tells people what groups they are and aren’t allowed to join. That’s not for me!”

Appropriation in Marketing
Historically white fraternities and sororities have appropriated other cultures for their own marketing and recruitment purposes in plenty of ways. Here’s an example. Here’s another. Here’s another. I only searched for about 2 minutes to come up with those three examples.

Prioritizing IFC and Panhellenic
When we do marketing strategy work for entire fraternity/sorority communities, members of NPHC and MGC organizations regularly share that they feel like they’re always promoted alongside Panhellenic and IFC groups, but “in the back of the brochure.” Incoming students are often given very early opportunities to “sign up for recruitment,” but really what that means is to sign up for historically white organizations. Panhellenic and IFC groups get top billing (especially during the summer and early fall) in promotion and support.

Lack of Effort
Put simply, many historically white fraternities and sororities just don’t try very hard to recruit and retain BIPOC students. They probably aren’t against it and very rarely are actively trying to discriminate. But many groups just don’t have this at the top of their priority list from our observations. To be clear… some do! And some are trying hard.

How to Combat Racism in Recruitment

Well, the Top 10 list above is not the most fun thing to read, but it’s exceptionally important. Also, we know that more and more of today’s college students (not to mention professionals and advisors) are, to put it plainly, more woke than our members from even just a few years ago. We are in an age when an article like this shouldn’t really ruffle too many feathers. Most student leaders will probably read this and nod affirmatively (and add a couple more of their own astute observations to the list).

The question is, how do we actively combat racism in recruitment? (Please note that I didn’t say, “How do we recruit more students of color to be members?” That’s dehumanizing to say the least. We need to be focused on actively combatting racism and oppression in our joining processes, and creating environments that are actually inclusive and are actually equitable and that actually honor the humanity of everyone we encounter in a joining process.)

That’s a big question, and we are absolutely not going to pretend to have a special 7 point plan that will eliminate racism from 100 to 200 year-old institutions. Here are a handful of tactics that student leaders can actively use to move the needle this year.

State This as a Goal
It’s time to graduate from phrases like, “We’re about quality, not quantity.” Let’s try, “We envision a future where systemic oppression is eliminated from our organizations, and it starts with the way we attract, select, and secure new members. This will be a top three priority for our chapter/council for the next five years at least.” Naming it as a top strategic goal gives it power. This will certainly lead your chapter/council toward building a modern sorority/fraternity experience for modern students.

Actively Admit Your Shortcomings
Make your own Top 10 list of ways your current system is racist or otherwise oppressive. Talk about your organization’s past (not just the nice parts of the story). Share it publicly. Say you’re working on it. Work on it. Show progress every semester. It will be too slow for your patience and far too slow for the patience of others. But it will be better than not starting. Also, make an additional Top 10 List each new semester (now you’re up to 20, so the pressure’s on!). This work will be on-going.

Your campus is FILLED with professionals (and other students) who would love to teach your members, coach your chapter/council, and support you as you work to combat racism in the joining process. Seek that education. Not once. Not a program. Not a keynote speaker. Consistently and as part of the chapter/councils’ regularly scheduled experiences. It doesn’t have to be a big event either… lunches, coffee meetings, and 1-on-1’s are great learning environments. Ask, “I’m looking for people to help me see, understand, and root out systemic oppression in our joining process. Can you help or can you connect me with someone who can?” Important note: Don’t burden the folks who have experienced oppression with the additional task of educating you about how to stop oppressing. Especially if it isn’t their job to do so. There are a LOT of resources that exist on your campus that are specifically built to provide this education, and if you can’t find what you need on your campus look on the internet for help.

Don’t Be Bullied By The Back of The Chapter
Strong leadership knows the difference between right and wrong. If you got elected to a leadership position it wasn’t to be a facilitator of everyone’s feelings, it was to lead. Which will require strength and resilience. You’ve got that. Don’t be bullied by the back of the chapter. Don’t be bullied by some alumnus. Listen to them, learn from them, then always know the difference between right and wrong. Act on your conscience.

Build Genuine Relationships Outside Your Circle of Comfort
Not so you can recruit some BIPOC students, check a box, and say “problem solved!” No, build these genuine relationships to improve yourself and your chapter/council. Build trust with new groups. Yes, the campus cultural center is a good idea. The Black Student Union leadership is a great idea. But again, don’t see this as a scorecard. This is about being a humble learner, a relationship builder, and a helper.

Ask Your National Organization and Umbrella Group Leadership For Help
If your organization is a member of the NPC or NIC, reach out to their leadership. Our conversations with current leaders at both umbrella organizations suggests that there are a lot of great professionals and volunteers who really want to fix these problems too, but maybe they’re looking for students who are driven to do the work alongside them. If your chapter is a member of NALFO, NAPA, NMGC, or NPHC, all of these umbrella organizations have fruitful records of doing this work. They are there to support you to fix these systems. Call your national organization. Call your advisor. Work with your campus-based professionals. All of these stakeholder groups are looking to you, student leaders, to lead the way into the future. You’re on the ground. You know what’s happening. You know how to make a difference.

Practice Combating Racism in Other Ways
You’ll get better at identifying and removing racist or otherwise oppressive systems in fraternity/sorority joining processes if you’re working on the cause in other ways. Ask around. Keep an eye on social media. Find events, rallies, protests, lectures, etc. you can attend. Read some books. Get involved. If you’ve read this far, you probably already are.

Thank you for reading. Share if you like. Email me, Matt Mattson, Phired Up & TechniPhi’s President and co-Founder (Matt@PhiredUp.com) with your comments or recommended additions.

A note from Matt Mattson: Phired Up & TechniPhi is decidedly imperfect as a company when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusivity. I’m proud of the work we’re doing, but we have A LOT of work to do.  As the President of the company, I take responsibility for that and for what we will become. We want to serve 100% of our industry. We have incredibly talented staff who want that same thing. It would be inauthentic of us to post something like this without saying out loud, “We are the builders of the system. We have created inequity. We have perpetuated white supremacy. We have contributed to the problem.” I hope it goes without saying that we didn’t mean to do those things… but it doesn’t really matter, does it? We’re here to do the work on ourselves and our industry to make progress. Oh, and we should have written this 15+ years ago. I’m sorry we didn’t. I’m sorry we haven’t done more to address the issues named in this post. We are committed to this work moving forward. We hope our focus, now, on this little corner of the world – the way people join fraternities and sororities – is a small contribution our company can make to the larger efforts in society. We stand by and full-heartedly support those larger efforts to honor those who have been murdered and lynched for being black through protest and revolution as well. Thank you for reading.