by Matt Mattson
Before you ask someone to join your organization for the rest of their lives, I think you should have them fill out a formal application and conduct a serious interview. I don’t think that’s crazy talk. To get a job at McDonald’s you need to do that. So, you know, I think we should do that too.
Lots of fraternities already do. Some do it in a stupid way and make it intimidating for the prospect. That’s not what I mean. I think we should take it seriously, and make sure you find out the things you need to know before offering this guy a chance to represent your organization. Is he a criminal? Is he tens of thousands of dollars in debt already? Does he do drugs? Does he hate meetings, work, and community service? You know — the basic stuff that most fraternities do not know about their new members until it’s too late.
I’d recommend building a Values-Based Selection Criteria (example here) and basing most of your questions off of that.
I’d also recommend making sure we ask four specific questions in the interview…
- If you were our new member educator, how would you make our newest guys into real men?
- What do you hope to accomplish with the sorority women (and all women) on campus?
- How much is the most you expect to drink at any given party? What other stuff do you consume to have a good time?
- Tell me about how you think our fraternity should relate to people of different races, sexual orientations, abilities, and cultures than yours?
Hazing, sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, and discrimination seem to be our fraternity world’s primary demons of the moment. Will asking those four questions (or similar ones) ensure you don’t recruit hazing, racist, drunk driving, homophobic rapists? Unfortunately no. But at least it’s something. At least it starts the conversation. At least it opens up dialogue and gives us a little bit more of a chance to talk about the men that we need, to look for warning signs, and to set an expectation that this stuff isn’t tolerated in our groups.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been in this business for a few years now (14ish). I find myself feeling disheartened by fraternity too often. Especially this time of year, which seems like one of the two primary “silly seasons” of our fraternal world where we collectively make lots of dumb ass decisions (the other being spring formal time). I don’t know how to fix these problems. The only thing I can think to do is ask our better members to have more real conversations about the stuff that matters. Those four questions in a formal interview might be a good place to start. A formal interview might be a good place to start. Selection standards might be a good place to start.