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.