Three Things You Should STOP Doing With Your New Members
STOP Calling Them Babies
Calling your new members babies is so 2011. We’ve moved far past this as a national fraternity/ sorority community; however, we see so many chapters still posting pictures welcoming their new “babies” home on bid day. Enough is enough! They aren’t babies—they’re adults. College-aged adults who just decided to make a lifelong pledge to uphold the values and standards of your organization. Calling them babies undermines this important decision, belittles their place within your chapter as an important member, and reinforces stereotypes about fraternity/sorority life, like hazing. Speaking of…
STOP Trying to Scare Them
Talking about hazing in this list should be redundant. Every national organization has a policy against hazing new (and initiated) members for reasons that are too many to list. But for some reason, many chapters still decide a few scare tactics are the right way to whip new members into shape. Stop it. Telling new members they will be kicked out if they don’t get 100% on their first new member quiz, they have to do stupid scavenger hunts or embarrassing activities to get initiated, or even just withholding their initiation date to keep them guessing is considered hazing. If you’re doing these things to scare your new members, ask yourself “why?” and consider the answer. Then work with your chapter to find better ways to welcome your new members.
STOP Saying Confusing Stuff Without Explaining it First
One way to definitely be not welcoming is to confuse your new members with Greek-specific language right from the start. “You’ll lose points if you don’t come to study hours this week!”, “Dress in badge attire for the pinning ceremony!”, and “Nationals needs us to collect your dues tomorrow!” are all very confusing phrases. Even so, those phrases are oftentimes some of the first things that we share with new members. We need to stop being so confusing, and start doing a better job from the beginning of explaining exactly what we are talking about and why we call it that. If you have a point system, explain it before expecting your new members to earn a certain amount of points. If you want someone to wear badge attire to a pinning ceremony, explain what badge attire is, what a badge is and when your new members will get them. If you need to collect dues, explain what they’re for and who “nationals” is (Hint 1: they aren’t actually called nationals. Hint 2: It would have been helpful to explain this during recruitment).
START Inviting Them to Your Meetings
One of the best ways you can begin including your new members in your chapter is to bring them into as many aspects of membership as possible right away. There should be no reason you can’t invite them to your meetings, especially the parts where you conduct educational or business activities. This will give them a taste of what to expect once they’re fully initiated and help them to understand the behind-the-scenes operations of your chapter. They may even have new ideas or suggestions that can help improve your chapter’s operations right away. Save aspects of your meeting that are confidential or ritual focused until the end when you can excuse new members without disrupting your meeting’s flow or agenda.
START Involving Their Family
How much do your parents know about your fraternity or sorority? Many of us are lucky if our parents can recite the name of our organization correctly. You can help to include your new member’s family from the start of their experience with your chapter. Send them a welcome letter with information about your chapter. Invite them to a future event with their student to see your chapter house, meet your members, and perhaps complete a service or philanthropy project. Have an alumnus of your chapter call them and welcome them into your organization’s extended family. The more supportive and understanding the family of your new members can be of their decision to join a fraternity or sorority, the more likely it is your new members will be able to enjoy their experience without worrying that their family “doesn’t get it.”
START Mentoring Their Academic Success
Sometimes the best fit for a new member’s big brother or big sister isn’t always the best fit to help them succeed inside the classroom. That’s okay. Set your new members up with a study partner or member of your chapter who has taken similar classes or has a similar career aspiration. This member can help to mentor your new members for academic success while balancing the demands of membership and new member education. Some new members need lots of extra help to balance and prioritize. Others only need a gentle nudge or support here and there. Regardless of the new member’s needs, having a dedicated person who can help them navigate their coursework is a great benefit of being part of your fraternity or sorority and helps them build more connections with older members. Knowing that a one-size-fits-all scholarship plan for your new members may not be the best solution for everyone will help you and your new members achieve greater academic success.