New Year’s Resolution = Recruitment Opportunity

105846-1by Josh Orendi

New Year’s Resolution Support Group

You make a New Year’s resolution or two every year, right?  And, what happens by February or March every year?  Yeah, me too.  Guess who else does this … the rest of campus!  Take a look at the 10 most common New Year’s resolutions (according to this) listed below:

#1: Spend more time with friends & family
#2: Fitness
#3: Lose weight
#4: Quit smoking
#5: Enjoy life more
#6: Quit drinking
#7: Get out of debt
#8: Education
#9: Help others
#10: Get organized

So if the fraternity/sorority’s mission includes making better men/women and improving our members, campus, and community, we might have just hit the recruitment jackpot!  What a great opportunity to make new friends and offer something of value…

Experts say the best ways to keep a resolution are to be vocal about them, write them down, and get an accountability buddy.  For more tips on keeping resolutions, click here.  What if your chapter lead the way this year?

- 6:30am open jog around campus or group trip to the gym (“sign up and we’ll physically drag you out of bed”)
- study groups formed with non-members
- financial management expert (e.g. alumnus) joins you and non-members for dinner, cigars, ice cream, etc
- support group of people who want to stop smoking/drinking … what if the fraternity/sorority actually lead your campus with non-alcoholic opportunities to support those resolutions.
- open van rides into town, out of state, etc. just to have fun.
- members with a knack for organization sell their services to get people ready for the spring semester (fundraiser?)
- accountability group of 10 people (1/2 non-members) each put in $20 and make a personal resolution.  The last one to keep his/her commitment keeps the pot.

I know we could make a huge list, but you get the point.  Fraternities and sororities are uniquely positioned this time of year to offer the support that we’re all looking for to keep our New Year’s resolutions.  What will your chapter do to make the most of the opportunity to help and serve others?

Here’s a final thought:  What if your chapter made a New Year’s resolution as a group, announced it to the campus, and asked everyone to hold you accountable to making it a reality.  Oh, I like the pressure that would put on us!  How big could you dream?  You know what I like even better?  The number of non-members that will ask you throughout the Spring how your resolution is coming along.  You can simply respond, “really well, would you like to be part of helping us make it happen.”

Damn, I love recruitment.

Happy Holidays, so how’s the frat?

by Matt Mattson

turkeycarving_468x475Happy Holidays!  Welcome home… Enjoy sitting around for your holiday meals with family members, and fully expect to get this question… “HOW’S THE FRAT?” (or the sorority equivalent).  Quick, how do you respond?

Believe it or not, holiday dinners, parties, and get-togethers can be a great time to practice telling your fraternity/sorority story.  The way you describe your fraternity/sorority to crazy Uncle Lenny is probably going to be a little different than your typical recruitment conversation, but try to use this opportunity to refine the story, to reinvigorate your excitement, and to explore ways to get other people emotionally connected to your organization.

For example, I’m going to imagine I’m back in my college days, I’m home for Christmas, and my Grandma Gooch (what a wonderful woman she is) has just asked me how “that fraternity thing” was going…

“Thanks for asking, Grandma.  It’s a pretty important part of my life up at school.  I think often about Grandpa and how he served in WWII, and how good of a man he was…  When I’m older I want to look back on my life and know that I’ve become a man who is proud of his life… like Grandpa.  I know it might sound strange, but that is something this fraternity is doing for me. 

“Being a member challenges me everyday to seek Truth, pursue Wisdom, and be a charitable, honorable, patriotic, gentleman.  I feel like this is the first time in my life when someone outside of our family has pushed me to be a great person.  I certainly didn’t learn it in high school, and my statistics class isn’t teaching me that, you know what I mean, Grandma?  I’ve got other guys around me that want me to be the best version of myself, like I’m sure Grandpa had in the Navy. 

“It’s fun, it has given me opportunities to be a leader, and it keeps me busy and out of trouble, sure… but the fraternity is something that is really helping me become a better man.  Thanks for asking about it Grandma.”

I challenge you to use the safety and comfortable surroundings of home and family during your holiday break to practice telling your fraternity/sorority story.  If you’re reading this blog post, there is a good chance that fraternity/sorority has changed your life in a powerful way.  Tell people that story.  Practice telling it as often as you can.  That story is what changes people’s minds about fraternity/sorority life.

Clark Griswold: Socially Excellent

by Josh Orendi

clark-griswaldSocial Excellence is about more than how we interact with strangers. Sometimes those closest to us are the most difficult to connect with.  For my dysfunctional family that includes a mother-in-law that called off Thanksgiving, a mending relationship with an aunt I pissed off last year, and an inevitably awkward holiday meal with distant relatives that I’m forced to see every few years.  I’m guessing you can relate.

This year, I’m making a renewed commitment to social excellence.  It’s sort of a social experiment and a personal test.  I’ve resolved to go into the holidays prepared to drop my guard (be vulnerable), offer a positive/proactive attitude (read: no rolling eyes, butt-out hugs, or sarcastic whispers to my sister about grandma’s boyfriend), create conversations where I’m genuinely curious about them, and know that my family deserves at least as much of my time/energy as I give my friends/business/brothers.

In an ode to the captain of all dysfunctional families, I’d like to suggest that we all embrace our inner Clark Griswold.  Clark may not be socially excellent, but I can’t think of another character that tries harder.  Someone once told me that tragedy + time = humor.  I’m feeling a renewed holiday spirit as I’ve been reflecting the last few days on how I can make the most of the upcoming days I’ll have with loved ones in Pittsburgh.  Like Clark, I’m eager to light up the neighborhood (metaphorically) by bringing a better version of me to the dinner table.

I’d love to hear your stories and socially excellent experiments, too.

What if… Wild/Extreme/Revolutionary Ideas (part 2)

by Matt Mattson

$1 Million Death Tax.  No inititaion until graduation.  Cut the bottom 10% of AFA members each year.  Membership reviews conducted by non-members.  Model global citizens.  Public votes on chapter approval (every year).  Faculty invited to social functions.  Day of recruiting for GLBTQ students.  Global domination.  Defeat racism.  …and we’re just getting started!

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are some more wild/revolutionary/extreme ideas from the 2009 AFA educational session entitled FRATERNAL EXTREMES.  These are more responses from participants that attended the session.  Participants were asked to consider, “WHAT IF…” with regard to revolutionizing the fraternity/sorority movement.  They were encouraged to come up with the craziest, wildest, most controversial ideas they could.  Below are the responses that were submitted after the session. Most of these are just undeveloped ideas, notes, or brainstorms… but you’ll get the idea.  

As you read these responses, try not to shoot them down immediately.  Just imagine “WHAT IF…”  These were developed by the participants to spark thought, alter perspective, and challenge paradigms.  Try not to take them as recommendations, but as thought-provoking concepts.

MACGREGOR HILL
All social events should require learning outcomes and chapters should do post-assessment of how well those were achieved.  Only 1-2 per term. No fraternity man or sorority woman can join or remain an active member without a GPA above campus average.  You MUST perform above average. Every year the lowest performing chapter on a campus would be subject to a faculty vote to remain on campus.  Host in an open auditorium on campus? (how to pick the lowest group would vary)

ADAM MCCREADY
Initiation does not occur until graduation from college.  During the undergraduate experience, members must commit themselves to membership development.  Failing to commit to values and membership development equals expulsion. Merger of umbrella groups “The Greek Council.” Scouting and recruiting in high schools.

UNKNOWN AUTHOR
What if chapter/council philanthropy and/or service projects had the same impact that “CNN Heroes” have? What if we had collective council retreats? What if we had a day of recruitment dedicated to the GLBTQ. What if Faculty and staff were invited to social functions. What if Faculty and administration stopped by houses on a regular basis to have dinner, or just say hi? What if women’s recruitment didn’t have physical aspects (change it)? What if the organization raised money to help brothers/sisters pay for dues? What if we had a Greek job fair? What if we had a community chapter once a week with ritual?  What if we offered quality wellness opportunities? What if we had non-Greek student allies for each organization?  What if when a chapter has a GPA problem, they are only allowed to recruit studnets with a 3.5 and above?  What if when a chapter has an alcohol problem, they are only allowed to recruit people 21+? What if non-affiliated people did membership reviews?

JOSH ORENDI
Transparency: How do we each (campus/chapter) rank in all core areas.  Published in quarterly distribution channel.
Membership fees scalable based on GPA (3.0=$500, 2.0=$1,000).  $1 Million Death Tax.  AFA/NIC/NPC/NPHC/NALFO… charged inter/national org $1M everytime their membership killed someone.  Money goes to a prevention fund. Remove 10% of AFA membership every year based on performance standards. All media/PR (T-shirts to YouTube to radio spots) produced Interfraternally and subsidized for consistent national branding.  Reverse expansion:  What if universities/councils recruited large pools of high quality members, and then offered the group to the highest bidding fraternity/sorority? What if schools were on a waiting list to get an org to expand there?

GARY HANDY
What if fraternity/sorority houses were the cleanest and safest place on campus?  What if paddles (even decorative ones) were no longer symbols of fraternity and sorority life?

TRICIA FECHTER
What if we all modeled and acted with relevance all the time versus just when we wanted to/it was convenient?

MIKE LARSSON
Inter/National organizations share ideas and programs freely because all organizations are differentiated by values, not programs.

ERIN MORETTES
We educated higher education institutions who will not support fraternities and sororities on their campus and actually changed their minds to believe that Greek Organizations are the best things going for the institution.
We expanded our organizations to community colleges.  We would continue to encourage those individuals to continue on to 4-year institutions.  Provide a smoother transition to transfer students to enter into a social network.  IF we are truly life long organizations, why must it only begin at a 4-year institution?

SHELLEY SUTHERLAND
Pick a routine activity or program and the next time you start to plan and implement that program break all the rules – do everything differently.  (Faculty participate in meetings, debate pro/con of Greek Life).

BRIAN WEBBER
Alumni development programs: Taking our values and applying them to our professional lives. IFC Alumni groups.
Professional development programs so prestigious it is paid for by employers. Alumni Interfraternity Institute: Chapter members provide the connection to the ritual for the alumni.

AMANDA CLARE
Create a leadership experience from the beginning that continually progresses throughout their membership. All-inclusive membership. What if we removed the membership privilege of those who don’t meet our standards (buy in or get out).

TIM ANDERSON
Being that part of the Beta Sig purpose statement is to have a group that realizes that life rooted in Christ is the only true means of existence and therefore I wish our groups could and would lead the fraternal movement in spirituality through our relationships with churches and the worship opportunities we offer to our campuses –Tim Anderson

COULTER WARD
(general) Fraternities and sororities actually living and learning their ritual and founding principles. (extreme/specific) Possibly have fraternities and sororities look into purchasing businesses around local campuses and employ the members.  Teaches a wide variety of skills.  Use funds that have traditionally been used to fund parties.  What if all fraternities and sororities on campus pool funds and create a company like Toms?  Both business and philanthropy.

CINDY TESCH
Everyone Greek and non-Greek would be socially responsible. Our members would be more socially conscious of the world around and want to make better and more responsible decisions for themselves.  They would also challenge members of their organizations and other organizations.  They would also challenge everyone around them to become more socially conscious.  Our Greeks would feel responsible for all students and their well-being.  Get rid of bystander behavior.  The level of tolerance for those who are different would increase.  All people would be embraced regardless of sexual orientation, race, creed, abilities, etc.  Level of discourse would be raised.  Greeks would refocus on the on the idea of a scholarly exchange of ideas. What if we stopped talking and started doing.

KATELIN GETZ
Have fraternities and sororities set a high bar for what the best and brightest students at the institution would be like.  Essentially Greek students would be the poster. Have members travel to another chapter (different campus) and spend a semester/quarter there.

STANLEY JACKSON
Academic success was the standard. All Greek study hall. Organizations/chapters were required to have GPA above non-Greek GPA. Annual membership review required: Submit judicial (individual); GPA requirement above non-Greek; Service requirement; University GPA requirement.

NICK GILLY
True institutional partnerships.  A recognition that fraternities and sororities are the places to learn the things that you can’t learn elsewhere.  Tours begin and end with Greek Life.  We teach seminars and classes on social excellence, you can receive academic credit for being Greek.  What if college applications were given to Greek houses.  If they had to apply to fraternities, not the institution.  What if schools were 100% Greek?  Classes held in fraternity houses.  Grad schools recruiting through us.  Being Greek 1st thing on a resume, not last.

ROBERT MARIAS
All potential new members must participate in a leadership development class for credit that is pass/fail and if you fail you can’t join a Greek organization on campus.

JESSICA GENDRON
What if fraternity and sorority members were model citizens – not just students.  Not just American citizens, but global citizens.  We obey the law, have good morals and are engaged in our dialogue about our future as a world. What if you didn’t have to go to college to be Greek? Alcohol free period until 21.

ANDREW NEUBERG
To not accept a low percentage of leadership within chapters.  To strive for 100% participation.  To create a standard of excellence and not a minimum standard.

JORDAN AXELROD
Stop programs that only look good on paper.

Here are even more ideas… These are the remaining submissions from the survey results.  Again, these people were asked, “Considering the vast resources, millions of educated members, considerable money, and significant potential of inter/national fraternities and sororities, what are your wildest ideas for what Greeks could do (imagine no barriers, all ideas are great ideas, think HUGE)?”

Ultimate Leaders : Greek could ultimately be the leaders in every area of our campuses, our communities, our country, and quite possibly our world. Our organizations should be teaching us from the moment we are introduced to them (even if you haven’t joined yet) how to be better leaders through skill building, in all areas of leadership and there are just too many to name, critical thinking, empowerment, etc. And not only should that be what our members are gaining, but our members should also be learning how to empower others with the same skills even if they aren’t members of their own organization. I think sororities could also have a major impact on body image and other issues of women. If more of our chapters didn’t make women feel like they had to look a certain way or dress a certain way or own this or that to be a member or be liked I think we would be better off. I realize women grow out of that when they get older, but what if girls and women didn’t have to go through that in the first place? I also think Greeks could have a huge impact on the abuse of alcohol on college campuses. If more of our membership development and new member programs focused on good decision making, critical thinking and individualism we might not have the same problems with alcohol abuse.

Actually Educate (Tricia Fechter, AFLV): Your question prompts my first thought… actually EDUCATE our members. I don’t think that is necessarily happening. Sure, most of the time they have a college education, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are providing them with state of the art learning opportunities to inform them about our organizations, or our collective power as a community. Second, I think we need to stop being territorial, and start getting along. It doesn’t matter if if was your idea or initiative, or mine, if it is a good one, we should support it together, and move it forward as a community. Third, we need to stop living up to our negative stereotypes and start showing up. We need to eliminate hazing, eliminate problem drinking, and eliminate all the other negative things. Clean that up, and in a short while, everyone else will take notice, and begin to respect the collective power that we have.  

Adult Fraternal Experience: Continue beyond the campuses and continue to do great things as adult fraternal members. We truly need to exemplify the statement we make: membership is a lifetime journey. All the wonderful things our chapters do would continue on but with adults in communities not touched by colleges and universities. The experience will only improve as members mature and decide not to act like idiots.

True Values Congruence: Live in congruence with their values. I realize that is not very sexy, but the ramifications of such a move would be incomprehensible. Imagine millions of members living to the espoused values professed by organizations. I have no doubt it would radically change our educational system and our country. If you’re going to dream, dream big.

Reward Faculty Advisors (Chuck Eberly, EIU): Universities are all experiencing difficult budgetary issues. Long-standing traditions are most likely to be altered during times of stress, so opportunities abound at this time to make inroads in areas heretofore impossible to change. Among the challenges that fraternities and sororities face is finding tenured faculty members to serve in roles such as chapter advisors, academic advisors, etc. Almost every aspect of faculty culture on most campuses mitigates against young or old faculty members taking time from their week to work with undergraduates in out-of-class activities, particularly with fraternities or sororities. What about working through department chairpersons and learning the equivalent cost of one academic course load (three credits) of faculty time, then offering to make a contribution to the faculty member’s department in that amount of money IF the department chairperson is willing to defer those three credit units and make advising a student group part of the faculty member’s academic load (assignment)? The effect of such a faculty load assignment would be to legitimize student group advising as a part of the regular faculty workload rather than as a “service” activity that receives only grudging notice in faculty retention, promotion, and tenure determinations.

Live Their Rituals (Dan Bureau, Indiana):  Live their rituals, examine daily how they can better align actions with espoused values, recognize that they are a mission oriented organization, have honest discussions with members about the components of ritual and their role in their actions. I don’t think we need a lot of resources or money to do this. We need to push students to become who they say they are going to be sooner than they’re ready to do so.

Extreme Leadership and Activism (Aaron Schwartz, Undergrad, SUNY Plattsburgh): Fraternities and Sororities could actually follow their values and build the leaders of tomorrow, there is no reason why every (or nearly every) politician from this point forward cant have been involved in some sort of Greek Letter organization. Furthermore i think that fraternities and sororities should act as political activists on campus. A good example is here at SUNY Plattsburgh and throughout the SUNY system where the SUNY (State University of New York) has taken a $90 million plus mid semester budget cut, with the likelihood seeming that it will only get worse. I would like to see instead of the administration or student government taking the lead on protests, letter writing campaigns, and further political action, i believe that it is time for Greeks nationwide to begin taking stands on political and social issues. No longer should it be acceptable for out members to hold outdated prejudices regarding racism, ablism, ethnocentrism, classism, or any of the countless other “-isims” that we make moral decisions about others off of. I think that considering the history that many Greek letter organizations hold and the values that they represent it is time for us as a nation spanning millions of members strong community, to take up intellectual arms against forces of ignorance and apathy.

Global Domination as a Force of Good: What a sight it would be to see every social fraternity & sorority represented on every single campus in the country… and then world. Global domination is typically thought as evil, but what if fraternity & sorority life achieved true global prevalence by being a force of good. What if the demand for fraternities and sororities was so great that we were forced to grow beyond our wildest dreams?

Reform Alcohol Policy and Image: My wildest idea for what Greeks could do is to reform the U.S.’s policy and image of alcohol consumption. I would like to see the drinking age brought down to 18 or 19, but with incentives for people to complete their high school degree. I would also like to see the legal limit for BAC brought down by at least half for motor vehicle operation.

Defeat Racism (Jeremy Berggren, Delta Tau Delta alumnus):  IFC/NPHC collaborative Leadership development programs to work through racism in the 21st century. Modeling the freedom rides of the 40′s, and 60′s, the program will take place multiple times throughout the year to build on the legacy of anti-racist work and create new anti-racist strategies for the current time and address how racism manifests daily in our own lives. HQ initiated LBGTQ work and massive ally and safe space trainings for members. Maybe more HQ would sponsor the Out & Greek conference. There is certainly enough dough. Social Justice retreat center to address privilege, oppression, and power and Greeks can go learn about social justice and create action plans to promote social justice in their own organization. It will be awesome, built in the tradition of a “folk school” and modeled after the Highlander Center and popular education model, which is where folks like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr were trained in nonviolence and creative resistance. The wildest part of all is that I will be employed there, which will be downright awesome. Full ride scholarships to serve overseas in war torn countries with values based international leadership and education model. Greek partnership with Americorps to fund year-two year long service opportunities within the US. Students will be funded and receive scholarship or tuition assistance. Have Phired Up do material in your new member manual. Boo-ya!

Redefining Student Orgs Through Social Excellence (Nick Gilly, Chi Psi HQ): If Greeks could truly band together and leverage their membership and resources, Greeks could redefine the relationships between student organizations and higher learning institutions. Greeks could be recognized as full fledged partners to Universities – recognized as a counterpart to academic life and the avenue through which students develop social excellence. Colleges and universities everywhere should be introducing Greek Life as part of its own value proposition – they look to us to teach social excellence. Campus tours should include information about the many beneficial aspects of Greek Life. For a higher level institution, investing in Greek Life would be considered investing in itself. At many institutions, students are offered the opportunity to teach classes to their peers. At UC Berkeley, for example, a “deCal” is a class proposed by students and taught by students to other students. Greeks could provide classes and seminars to their peers on social excellence. We need to find ways to reach out and benefit others with what we are learning within our fraternities and sororities. If we can first learn to exemplify social excellence, and then spread the word to EVERYONE through informal and formal avenues, Greeks and social excellence would become synonymous. If we do that, and live our values to such an extent that our schools have confidence in fully partnering with us, we can become a relevant part of not only the lives of our members, but student and community life as a whole – everywhere.

Educate Our Nation’s Youth (Travis Gass, Undergrad, U Washington): There are many things possible that can be achieved through the movement of a collective Greek body. The opportunity for Greek members to gain affiliation to their respective organizations stems from their participation in secondary education, or by attending an institution of higher learning. As a student who came from an environment of modest resources and information regarding to obtaining higher education, I feel the biggest duty bestowed upon us collectively is the education of our nation’s youth. To create opportunities for those who come after us, and to instill upon those future generations the courage and willfulness to learn and explore, are amongst our chief obligations.

Unity (Ben DeLost, Phi Kappa Theta Alumnus):  That Greek organizations around the country and world would all understand the aspect of that “WE’RE ALL THE SAME MINUS A RITUAL OR TWO!” I know this is a rather large secret right now and we might have some pretty upset members from our chapters. But if we would all work together and take the competitive nature we have against the other greek letter organizations on our campus and brought it together so that all students at our universities would have the impression that this would be something they would want to join. And if not then they must not want to develop into a well rounded young adult and continue the development through their life. If we did this then recruitment would be a thing of the past and members would be lined up at the door. If we could do this I believe it would drop the “Animal House” stereotype that is so hard for us to shake. We would be such an intricate corner stone of our respected universities.

Many Great Ideas:  *Fraternity men on campuses across the country would be highly active in planning Take Back The Night events. *More energy and resources would be spent on philanthropic and service work than parties and events. *Chapters would help chapters struggling with recruiting good men/women to recruit great members. *We would become a truly open community in terms of race, class, sexual orientation, ability level, etc. *Staff sizes would be significantly increased, both on the campus and IHQ level, to be able to meet the needs of our growing student population. *We would raise our overall GPA requirements for attaining and retaining membership (women’s groups seem to understand this more than men’s groups). *Sorority Recruitment would be scraped for a process that actually encourages women making meaningful connections with each other. *Transgender students would be welcome in fraternities and sororities depending on how they identify their own gender.

The Way it Should Be:  That only the best and brightest students from every campus would be members. They would all live in well-maintained living/learning communities and would be functioning at the highest levels, achieving amazing GPAs, completing tons of service and philanthropy. Chapters would reflect the diversity of the campus and be safe environments for people who are from different backgrounds. There would be no hazing, as all national organizations would true membership development programs. Each chapter would have a full advisory board of dedicated and involved alumni who give back to the chapter and the university. Programming would be attended without it having to be required. All the different groups would have good relationships with each other and other student organizations. IFC/PHC groups would work collaborative with MC groups. All organizations would have well-trained professional consultants who visit high performing and struggling chapters at least once a year. Alcohol use in chapters would be less than the general student population and chapters would effectively use juridical processes to adjudicate members not upholding values. The public would have no reason to continue stereotypes of Greeks and fraternity and sorority members would stop giving excuses for their bad behavior. Parents will want their child to join a Greek organization. Retention of members would be 100%. Sorority recruitment would focus on truly getting to know women and petty recruitment violations would not exist.

Global Experience (Matt Mattson, Phired Up):  What if the student of the month from our best chapters won a free educational trip to China, Kenya, Indonesia, Bolivia, Antarctica, Paris, Moscow, Sudan, Tibet, etc.? 

What if instead of buying T-shirts for Greek Week, recruitment, homecoming, mixers, and formals… and instead of buying thousands of high-gloss “Greek Life is Awesome” fliers to the pay to mail to thousands of students and parents… what if we took all that money (likely tens of thousands of dollars between chapter, council, and university expenditures) and sent our fraternity/sorority students on multiple short educational group trips to some of the most amazing places on earth.

Wouldn’t that be cool enough to attract more members without having to even bother with fliers and t-shirts?

Extreme Networking (Matt Mattson, Phired Up): We’re members of “social” fraternities and sororities, for the most part, right?  One could determine how “social” you are by measuring how large your network is, right?  Many fraternities and sororities offer as one of the primary benefits of membership the ability to build a large NETWORK, right?

What if fraternities and sororities refocused their purpose on building as many meaningful relationships as possible with people on their campus, in their community, and around the world.  What if the number one goal of our organizations was simply to engage socially with the world.  Meet people.  Communicate with people.  Learn from people.  Everywhere.  Lots of them.

Wouldn’t this help with recruitment?  Wouldn’t this likely help with cultural understanding?  Wouldn’t this help with individual members’ success potential?  Wouldn’t this actually be our organizations being social? 

Simple, yes, but what if we just focused our energies on something that is easy to measure and could impact us very positively.  Meet lots and lots of people.

Extreme Accountability (Jessica Gendron, Phired Up): What if our organizations actually made us better people?  What if our organizations actually MADE us do what we say we do with 100% accountability if we don’t?
We say we value service – every member MUST do 100 hours of community service a year with documentation that supports those hours.  At the end of the year, if you can’t produce documentation for 100 hours…your membership is terminated.  We say we value scholarship.  Every member must have above a 3.0.  You don’t?  Goodbye.  We say we value learning.  Every member is required to attend 1 outside the classroom learning opportunity a month.  You don’t?  Membership Terminated.  This means we would actually have to provide support and resources for this to be achieved, but what if we stopped letting ourselves get away with being mediocre and actually were outstanding?

Accountability Reconsidered (Brandon Cutler, Kansas State University): What if all Inter/National organizations and institutions of Higher Education agreed upon a set Risk Management & Behavioral Expectations (such as FIPG Risk Management Policy), and created a zero tolerance enforcement policy. 

If a chapter uses alcohol to recruit, host open parties, or haze members it will no longer be a chapter.  Charter gone, chapter house gone, ongoing behavioral issues with chapters and members…gone!  Student leaders, I/HQ staff, campus professionals, and volunteers spend so much time addressing violations of policies that have been around for 20 years.  What if we just drew a line in the sand and got rid of all chapters that violate these very basic expectations.  Perhaps we’d have the time, money, and energy to focus on events and activities that represent our founding principles.  Sure, we might lose some chapters from the start, but I bet chapters would start taking things a little more serious.  Chapter’s would be forced to hold members accountable, recruit members that will uphold chapter values, and treat all members and guests with respect. 

It’s time to for chapters and members to be relevant to their mission…or be gone.

Multiple Ideas from Josh Orendi, Phired Up

Global Greek Life
Not only would we serve the educational missions of our host institutions, but we would be the international leaders in supporting educational development across the globe.  With a build in network of undergraduate and alumni volunteers we could fund and staff a global education initiative.  Side benefit:  We’d probably estabilish fraternity and sorority chapters at every host site to spread the positive mission of greek life.

Fraternity becomes the model for membership organizations across the country to build a higher quanity of higher qaulity members.  Church congregations … the US Military … professional associations … masonic lodges … fortune 500 sales team … all see dramatic improvements using the newest model for values-based, year-round recruitment.  And, they proudly credit their model back to the fraternity and sorority movement.

Pins & Rings.  Broadcasters, models, TV hosts, journalists, politicians, etc wear their fraternity/sorority badges and/or rings with pride as a sign of their commitment to a values based life.

Admissions tours start and end with Greek Row.  Fraternity and sorority life is the pinnacle of excellence.  The university proudly advocates for fraternity and sorority life.  Prospective students are toured through greek facilities, paired with f/s members, and encouraged to pursue membership.

Greek Employment Circle.  A professional network of top companies and nonprofits that recruit f/s leadership exclusively.

Greek Hostel Program.  Members of any interfraternal organization are connected and offered nearly free accommodations at 1000′s of f/s houses on premier college campuses across the country/world.�

Letters on a Nation.  Senior members of every fraternity/sorority across the country are encouraged to donate their letter shirts to clothe a sponsored nation of need.�

Greek Stock Picks.  F/s chapters across the country battle in real time through online technology to manage a successful portfolio of stocks/bonds.  Participating chapters begin with a $1000 investment.  The winning chater received full ride scholarships for all its members.  Or, same concept but “start a business.”

What if… Wild/Extreme/Revolutionary Ideas (Service/Philanthropy Edition)

by Matt Mattson

As you prepare for next semester’s recruitment, be sure you’re able to answer this question.  How will you change your world this year?

We have discussed on this blog in the past the POWER OF BIG DREAMS when it comes to recruitment.  You can see some of those posts here, here, and here.  If you have a clear direction, a powerful vision, a wild dream to get others excited about, they’ll be more likely to want to join you.   The best leaders don’t just want to join something that is trying to survive.  They will, however, be very interested in a group of people trying to change their world…

change-your-world1Brandon Cutler (Kansas State University) and Matt Mattson (Phired Up) facilitated an educational session at AFA last week entitled, Fraternal Extremes.  This session asked the question, “Considering the vast resources, millions of educated members, considerable money, and significant potential of inter/national fraternities and sororities, what are your wildest ideas for what Greeks could do (imagine no barriers, all ideas are great ideas, think HUGE)?”  This blog post is the first of several posts that will share some of the responses to this question.  Here are some of the best ideas from fraternity/sorority leaders, advisors, educators, and members across the country with regard to SERVICE and PHILANTHROPY.  Enjoy.

African School Supplies (Alex Brown, UW-Lacrosse):  To partner with other organizations in the community to raise school supplies for schools in Africa.  It could be done in a “penny wars” format.  This would be a part of an “International Awareness Week” with different speakers and events designed to get the Greek Community to think and act in new ways and perhaps bring in some diversity to our organizations.  It could be a Greek Life co-sponsorship with International Education and open to the whole campus and community.

GreekServe:  Living Our Rituals, Helping Our World. (Matt Mattson, Phired Up):  The mission of GreekServe is to deliver disaster relief along with life-changing service learning opportunities through the orchestration of collegiate and alumni fraternity/sorority volunteers.

Katrina.  9/11.  Tsunami.  Gustav.  Wildfires.  Earthquakes.  Floods.  Starvation.  Genocide refugees. 750,000 collegiate fraternity and sorority members who have pledged to being active servants to others. 200,000 fraternity/sorority members each year graduate to become active servants in their community. 1 organization dedicated to mobilizing this huge pool of manpower and engaging them in service where it is most needed.

Think… Alternative Spring Break on steroids, year round.  Think… a huge database of college students and Greek alumni who are prepared to be called upon at a moment’s notice to save lives and help those in need – around the world.  Think… the philanthropy of choice for every Greek organization.  Think… a singular cause that we can all get behind that not only uses monetary contributions wisely and for important purposes, but also uses our sheer manpower, energy, and network to get work done.

Ideal World (Mike Berezny, Undergrad, Kettering University):  I believe that Greeks could potentially–and literally–change the world. By not isolating one specific cause or purpose, and by distributing the time, money and effort of each Greek organization, social, scholastic, or other, the world’s communities would see a vast improvement. Imagine for more than a brief second parks cleaned up, run down houses re–built, children educated; elderly visited, homeless housed, naked clothed; hungry fed, ignorant enlightened, and the less fortunate given opportunities beyond their wildest dreams. This imaginary and ideal world may sound impossible, but with dedication and cooperation by the entire Greek Community around the globe, we can make a difference.

Mission & Values Focus (Brandon Cutler, Kansas State University):  What if all fraternity and sorority chapters actually focused on achieving their mission and values beyond all other activities.  What if chapter members spent as much time serving the community as they did in their favorite campus town bar?  What if every Greek nationwide would take all the money they spend on alcohol, drugs, or tobacco for a week and donated that money to their favorite philanthropic organization?     Imagine how much fun chapter leaders would have if they didn’t have to baby sit 80 drunks during formals and house parties.  According to in www.theknowzone.com   the average college student spends $466 per year on alcohol.  That is about $10 a week.  In 1 week K-State Greeks could donate over $32,000 to philanthropic organizations simply by not consuming alcohol for that week.  What if Inter/National Organizations and host institutions created systems that actually assessed chapters’ achievement of their mission?   What is that assessment determined whether or not a chapter would continue to exist.  If everyone went back to the basics, developed systems to assess mission & action congruence, and held chapters accountable according to their performance we’d have a community that actually forces chapters to do what they say they will do.   

How can we be remarkable if we can’t meet the minimum expectations?

Massive Philanthropic Impact (Nick Gilly, Chi Psi HQ):  With our resources, Greeks could engage in philanthropy on a massive scale. Imagine local and national foundations, and organizations with common philanthropy interests, pooling resources and partnering with other institutions to offer their own alternative spring breaks and ‘semesters of service’. Organizations could fly students from chapters across the country to common locations to build entire houses in poor areas. They could raise money to finance the construction of schools in third world countries, and send select students across the world to help build them and in the process learn about a new culture. Service oriented trips could mix with leadership and social excellence training on a massive scale that empowers larger numbers of our members to go back to their communities and engage those service-oriented and social skills. An organization or partnership of organizations could say “this year we financed the construction of 100 schools in third world countries (they only cost about $15,000 each in many places), had drives to provide them with books and school supplies, provided hundreds of scholarships for children in those countries to attend those schools, and sent members to teach in partnership with locals.”? What if we did the same here in our own country? Greek Life should be synonymous with education, philanthropy, and social excellence – not among only ourselves, but everywhere. That would be a revolution.

Engage the World (Scott Woodfill, Undergrad, GVSU):  Greek Organizations offer a vast array of diverse volunteers. With unlimited money and resources why are we not engaging the world? We are students, many of whom are pursuing careers as doctors, teachers, and businessmen. Why then are we not helping the world? What would this world look like if we used our members to educate kids in Africa, or send out pre-med students to perform first aid in 3rd World countries? If we have poverty in the U.S. why are our business major members not trying to help those who are not educated learn about financing and investing to survive today’s economy? If we invested the money into today’s world what many of us have invested in beer and liquor we could easily have changed the public view of Greek life years ago…

Reallocation of Finances (Jessica Gendron, Phired Up):  What if every chapter of every fraternity and sorority across the country forfeited their social programming budgets to one single cause for one year.  Every chapter across the country gave all their money previously marked for parities, decorations, and booze – to the same charity or same charitable fund.  How much money could we give?  How much money could we provide to a worthy cause?  What if the time we had scheduled for social events was then dedicated to providing service to the community.  Not dollars, but time.  How much time would our students give?  How much could we change our communities, campuses, students, and the world…in one year.  What if our students decided to do this on their own…

Adopt a Country (Matt Mattson, Phired Up): Sally Struthers teaches us that for just pennies a day we can adopt a child in Africa and feed them well.  The fraternity/sorority world is flowing with literally hundreds of millions of dollars.  That’s a lot of pennies.

What if in 2011 fifty fraternities and sororities got together and decided to adopt a small country (or town or neighborhood or impoverished region)?  How many people could we feed and serve using our educational foundation dollars, a portion of our dues money, the amount of money we normally spend on national conventions, regional programs, beer, t-shirts, websites, etc.?  Just for one year?

Would they name the country after us?  Would it be Fraternisororiland?  Would they name their children after us?  Would our members benefit from this year of sacrifice?  Would our alumni give to this cause?  Would more people want to be members if we did this?  Could we get communities on our side?

Self Imposed PARTY TAX (Josh Orendi, Phired Up):  Every social dollar we spend is matched with a service dollar.  Simple.  Effective.

Telling A Passionate Story

by Matt Mattson

I’m having the thought lately that… maybe the real difference between the great recruiters and the average member is the level of belief in your own organization’s story.

Do you believe the story you tell about your organization?  Do you believe that what your organization has to offer is actually different, unique, one-of-a-kind, world-class, amazing, life-changing, world-changing?  Do you believe the story of your organization so much that anytime you start to talk about it you get emotionally charged up?  Have you ever felt yourself near tears when describing your organization to someone else?

For the best recruiters in the world, the answers to all of those questions is a resounding, passionate, powerful, YES.

For instance, I believe in our company.  I believe that Phired Up is changing our world.  I believe that we are a team of experts, supported by throngs of fans, who understand that social excellence is the way of life for high performers, and who understand that there is a much higher quantity of much higher quality people out there who deserve the gift of fraternity/sorority, and who understand that fraternity/sorority should be a major force for saving lives, and setting positive examples, and leading  a social-consciousness/social-action revolution.  I believe that I’m a part of something incredible, and when I tell that to people, they know how much I believe it because they can feel it emanating from me.  I love what I’m a part of.  I want others to feel that same love.  I want to give this feeling of purpose, of focus, of passion to others.

This is a great time of year to do a little reflection.  Reflect on the story of your organization, and if you find yourself feeling lackluster, there’s still good news…  You can choose a new story.  You can choose to start telling the story of what your organization will become.  Take time to reflect on what you want that story to be.  Take time to determine what the story needs to be about in order to get you charged up, in order to get your emotions boiling, in order to get you passionate enough to want to scream your organization’s story from the rooftops.

Great recruiters have a story to tell.  And when they tell that story it is from their heart, not from talking points.  They tell their story emphatically, passionately, and with wild, sometimes uncontrollable gestures.  They inspire. Great recruiters inspire others to perspire for their cause.

Take time to reflect on the story of your organization.  Take time to figure out how your group is changing the world.  Take time to find (or create) the part of your organization’s story that you’re so Phired Up about that you can’t wait to go tell it.  Then tell that story wildly.

We Dare You

by Matt Mattson

social-excellence-logo-ppt-compressed-croppedTruly learning how to be a better recruiter and how to be more socially excellent requires a personal challenge.  We dare you…

At this year’s Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Annual Meeting Phired Up dared participants to take their learning beyond the walls of a classroom setting, and into reality.  We distributed hundreds of “Social Excellence Dare Cards” to see who among the crowd would be willing to engage in real experiential learning.  There were four dares distributed to participants on day 1 of the conference, and a special double dare card handed out on day 2. 

It was amazing to see the response of the conference attendees as they took on these dares and felt the learning. Now we challenge you to share these dares with your members.  Push each other to be socially excellent, not just talk about it.  Are you brave enough?

We dare you to be socially excellent.  We dare you to take these challenges, prove your social excellence, and then pass the dare to someone else.  Learn it by doing it.  Teach it by being it. Take the dare then share the dare.

Dare Card #79 Compliment 2 people. Engage them in a sit-down conversation. Learn about their deepest passion in life. Exchange contact info.

Dare Card #33 Be curious about something someone is holding or reading.  Offer to help that person.  Make their day better.  Make their life better.

Dare Card #24 You have 5 minutes. Look around. Find a stranger.  Get their phone number. Introduce your new friend to 3 people you know.

Dare Card #19 Ask someone for  directions, assistance, or guidance.  Be authentic. Transition to conversation. Share something meaningful about yourself. Get contact info.

Dare Card #00 (Double Dare) Find a small group of people. Engage them. Learn what they care about. Start a tribe. Inspire your small group and others to take action on a real issue of shared interest.  Change your world in some small or large way.  Within 24 hours. Go.

Be Interested. Be Interesting.

by Jessica Gendron

[Editor's Note: Here is a paradoxical blog post we wrote a while ago.  Maybe they're both right?]

A big part of Social Excellence is the ability to have meaningful dialogue with other people – even strangers.

Curiosity opens the door for you to approach people and ask questions.  We talk a lot about curiosity in Social Excellence, but we rarely talk about being interesting.  Being interested in what the other person has to say is incredibly important, but maybe equally important and sometimes forgotten, is that you, yourself have to be interesting enough to talk to.  People don’t typically engage in a conversation with a person to talk nothingness.  They want to learn something, be impacted somehow, get an opinion or talk about something they care about.  You have to be able to contribute to the conversation in order for it to be worthwhile.

I’ll be direct.  Here’s what I mean:

You have to read.  Read a variety of different things.  Read books that are popular – fiction, non-fiction, biography, etc.  Read the newspaper.  Most colleges and university are begging their students to read the newspaper to the point that they give it to you for free!  Read blogs.  Gold star for reading ours, but read different ones, ones that have to do with your major, things you’re interested in, things you would like to know more about.  Read gossip magazines.  Yep, I said it, gossip magazines.  People talk about this stuff and people care about this stuff.

You have to watch television.  Here I go again acting crazy.  Yes, I said “Watch television.”  But watch a lot of different types of shows.  Watch the news (liberal and conservative stations, both viewpoints are informative).  Watch morning news shows (Today Show, Good Morning America, etc) not only do that have news, but they have human interest stories, and segments about things you should know about from credit card interest rates to sunscreen.  Watch popular sitcoms.  Watch Saturday Night Live.  Watch syndicated old school shows too.  Watch entertainment TV.  Watch sports.

You have to do stuff.  I don’t mean any stuff.  I mean all kinds of stuff.  You have to volunteer, go to movies, go to the theater, see a ballet, a speaker, travel, see the United States, see the world.  Do stuff you wouldn’t normally do.  Do stuff that’s outside your comfort zone.  Take a hike.  Go for a bike ride.  Walk.  Take Salsa, Ballroom, or swing classes.  Do some yoga.  Climb a mountain.  Go camping.  Visit a hospital, visit a school, business, church or neighborhood.  Don’t just sit in your room with your friends and do the same boring stuff you always do.  Take risks and do stuff.

You have to listen.  Every person is an information hub.  Listen to learn when they talk.  Everyone has something that they can teach you, but you have to listen, encourage them to expand more, and listen some more.  Talk to lots of different types of people, learn from their experiences, information, opinions and viewpoints.

You have to agree to disagree.  People don’t have to agree to have a calm, civil and informative conversation.  Be okay with disagreement, but don’t get belligerent.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  You may not agree, but you don’t have to.  Listen to what they have to say and understand where they are coming from regardless of how you feel.  Be comfortable raising questions that may cause a healthy debate.  The goal is to learn, not persuade.

Be your own information hub.  People like to talk to others that they can learn from.  When you are informed of current events, news, television shows, activities, etc. people will want to talk to you.  This does not give you permission to be a gossip queen.  If it didn’t come from a source that is legally responsible for the information – don’t spread it or cite your source.  Don’t feed the rumor mill.  People will trust what you say less, tell you less,  and talk to you less if you aren’t a reliable source. 

Be interested.  Listen to people and be curious about them.  Learn from them.  Be interesting.  Be someone that others are curious about.  Be someone others can learn from.