Fighting Greek Stereotypes on Campus – Keep It Simple, Stupid

Recently, while browsing a Greek life related online forum, I came across a post from a user asking about how to change his or her Greek community’s reputation on campus. This is a familiar question in the world of fraternity and sorority life.

For as long as I’ve been a member of a Greek organization, I’ve heard the same concerns:

  • Non-Greeks hate us. Faculty/Staff have a negative view of Greek life on our campus
  • We have a bad reputation/stereotype
  • People make assumptions about us
  • The campus media is out to get us; they never publish the good things we do

I chose to respond to this users questions with the same advice that I give my students. My most simplistic, yet holistic response to these concerns are:

  1. Do more good things
  2. Do less stupid things
  3. Make it a point to be friends with, and work with non-Greek students, faculty, and staff

People will hold a stereotype until they’re proven wrong. If your Greek community is living up to that stereotype, and/or if you don’t get outside of your “Greek bubble”, things will never change.


Simple, right?



Have a thought? Share it in the comments!


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Lessons From UIFI

Last week, I had the pleasure to facilitate a session of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI), hosted  by the North-American Interfraternity Conference. This was my second year serving as a facilitator, which allowed me more opportunity to reflect on the experience, rather than being overwhelmed by the intensity of it all. Accordingly, I had several “ah ha” moments during the Institute which I’d like to share:

1. Doing Nothing is Always Easier
Change is hard. You are asked to try new things, think in a different way, and make yourself vulnerable to failure. Our chapters, councils, and communities resist change because the status quo is comfortable and easy.

2. You’re Not Special
Whatever problems you are having in your organization, someone has already dealt with it, and figured out a solution. Having the humility to seek these people out and ask for help is what will make a leader great. Don’t reinvent the wheel, just ask your neighbor in the cave over how he made that sweet ride.

3. It’s Getting Better
Thanks to the hard work of all those involved in the fraternity and sorority movement, things are getting better. Of course, we still have major problems to deal with, and as a whole, we’re far from excelling in the pursuit of living up to the ideals of our founders. Through educational opportunities provided by campuses, headquarters, the NIC, AFLV, and a bevy of other collaborators, we have started to have the right conversations, and encouraged thoughtful action on the parts of undergraduate students seeking to improve their organizations.

4. It’s Getting Better… Way too Slowly
The harsh reality is that we are still hurting people. Many of our chapters are still hazing, leading to physical pain, psychological trauma, injuries, and death. Many fraternity and sorority members still celebrate our stereotypes, and do their best to live a TFM and TSM lifestyle. Many fraternity houses are bastions for hyper-masculinity which leads to alcohol abuse, homophobic behavior, and the objectification, mistreatment, and abuse of women. When they place the highest regard on the physical appearance of prospective members, attend parties with themes that denigrate women, and tolerate the male chauvinistic behavior of our men’s groups, our women’s organizations fail to follow the path of their founders. Until we own these issues, and develop a healthy intolerance of this behavior, nothing will change.

5. Prove Us Right
Millions of dollars every year are spent on the improvement of our fraternities and sororities. Thousands of leadership conferences are held every year exclusively for fraternity and sorority members, and tens of thousands of students attend, many on scholarships provided by alumni, campuses, and headquarters. Over a thousand professionals from hundreds of campuses and headquarters have dedicated their careers to the advancement of the fraternal movement. We give up nights, weekends, time with family, our personal lives, and much of our sanity, all because we believe that fraternities and sororities have a unique ability to have a an overwhelmingly positive impact on our members and our communities. So all we ask of our students is to prove us right.

If you have yet to experience UIFI for yourself, I highly encourage you to do so. If you are a student, make plans to attend next year. If you are a fraternity/sorority professional, apply to facilitate. If you are a supporter of the fraternal movement, consider encouraging undergraduates to attend, and/or sponsor a scholarship to do so through your University or headquarters.

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Your New IFC Recruitment Policy

If your IFC community is anything like those I have worked with, recruitment policies are a big deal. Hours are spent discussing what changes need to be made to the policy. How do we make it fair? How do we get more guys? Who has to dissafiliate? How to we prevent dirty recruitment?

What results is a multi-page document that covers all aspects of recruitment. We get so caught up in defining the minutia that we create a document that nobody wants to read and hardly any fraternity men actually understand. We try to make plans for every situation and, in turn, create loopholes that our chapters just love to exploit.

In an attempt to make things simpler for everyone, I present what I feel is the ideal IFC Recruitment Policy:

Interfraternity Council Recruitment Policy

    1. Chapters are responsible for their own success
    2. Chapters must follow all applicable laws as well as IFC and University Policies
    3. Chapters may not offer money or gifts in exchange for the acceptance of a bid

That’s it.
Need a breakdown?

1. It’s not IFC’s job to recruit for chapters, nor should chapters rely on IFC to recruit for them. If a chapter wants the best men on campus, then they need to identify them, befriend them, and recruit them. Chapters who wait to get a list from IFC are immediately limiting their pool of candidates, and admitting their recruitment apathy and/or incompetence. For more information on the importance of a chapter recruiting for themselves, and resources on how to do it, check out my friends at Phired Up Productions and CAMPUSPEAK Recruitment Bootcamp.

2. Worried about your chapters using alcohol or drugs in recruitment? I can promise you that if you live in the United States, you have a law on the books that prevents the consumption of alcohol by individuals under 21. If your IFC is even somewhat functional, they will have a similar policy as well. The same applies for illegal drugs.

But what about guys 21 or over?
– Do you really think that a man over the age of 21 going to be convinced to join a fraternity because they gave him some booze?
– How many men over the age of 21 are you actually recruiting?
– Personally, I’m perfectly fine with a group of adults of legal drinking age want to get together and discuss joining a fraternity over a drink.

3. Don’t buy a bid. Self explanatory, right?


So, what do you think? Can this work? Am I missing something? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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My Favorite Recruiting Technique

Attention chapter members, and especially recruitment and scholarship chairpersons, I’m going to share my favorite recruiting technique of all time. This strategy works best during the first few weeks of classes, and if done correctly, will guarantee improvement in your chapter’s recruitment performance, and academic performance. Sound enticing?

Here’s the strategy.

1. Show up to class. During the first week or two of classes, make sure that you are showing up on time, paying attention, and looking presentable. Maybe even employ some of Phired Up’s 3-7 techniques.

2. Find the smartest students in your class. If you’ve done step 1 correctly, you have most likely already identified the smartest people in class. These are the ones that actively participate in discussion, always seem to have the right answers, and genuinely enjoys the course. Pick one smart person (of the same gender as you) in your class that you think could make a good brother/sister.

3. Start a study group. Walk up to that smart student and say, “Hi, I’m (insert your name). Some of this course material can be a bit tricky, and I’m thinking about starting a study group to review some of the key concepts, and prepare for our tests and quizzes. Want to help me start the group?”

4. Recruit more members. Identify a few other intelligent individuals in your class that could be a good fit in your chapter. Ask them to join your study group, or have your other group members do the work for you. Build your group up to a manageable size of four to six members.

5. Meet as a group. If you’ve done it right, you now have a small group of some of the best minds in your class to tutor you. Try to meet at least once a week, and actually function as a study group. There’s no need to talk about your fraternity or sorority; you’re there to improve your performance in class.

6. Make friends. If you’ve seen Community, then you know it’s fairly inevitable that your study group will become friends. After a few weeks of meeting as a study group, you’ll naturally transition your study group acquaintances to a casual friendships.

7. Recruit if necessary. Only recruit members of your study group if it’s appropriate. Ideally, you’ve gained a few new friends, and if you’re making decent connections your study group will know that you’re in a fraternity/sorority. Additionally, you already know that these people are committed to academic excellence, a core principle of your fraternity or sorority. If you feel that it’s appropriate to recruit anyone from the study group, then do it! If you don’t feel that the person is right for your organization, or vice-versa, then…

8. Improve your academic performance. The absolute worst thing that can happen with this technique is that you form a study group, improve your grades, and don’t recruit a single person into your chapter. If you were able to form a group of some of the smartest students in your class, and you benefit academically as a result, then you still win.


Imagine the possibilities of this recruitment and academic improvement strategy. What if you started a study group in each of your classes? What if all of your chapter members were required to start at least one study group outside of the chapter? How would your chapter’s recruitment strategy change if your members were meeting with some of the smartest students on campus on a regular basis? How would your chapter’s academic performance be affected by recruiting highly-achieving students? How would your chapter’s academic performance be affected if every chapter member surrounded themselves with intelligent peer tutors?

This strategy is no fail. If you start a group, and are able to recruit at least one person; win/win. If you start a group and don’t recruit anyone; win.

Think this strategy can work for your chapter? Have a recruitment strategy you want to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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Greek Tech: Group Texting

One of the most interesting developments in communication over the past decade has been the emergence of the text message as the primary means of communication for teens and young adults.

The early days of text messaging taught us all the T9 entry method, and encouraged us to throw all rules of spelling and grammar out the window in order to cram our thoughts into 140 characters or less. In fact, it’s because of this early text messaging restriction that Twitter limits your posts to 140 characters.

Nowadays, text messaging has gotten much more advanced. Gone is the 140 character limit and text only messaging, and in it’s place are dynamic picture and video messaging. We can now send a text to donate money to charity, vote for our favorite performer on American Idol, enter a prize drawing, and numerous other applications. It is normal for college students to text each other in class, or even text their roommate on the other side of the dorm room. I’ve noticed that many of the students that I work with prefer to communicate via text, rather than a phone call or e-mail.

Texting has brought about new laws to prevent texting while driving, put words like “LOL” into our dictionaries, and made us all aware of the dangers of “sexting”. Regardless of what this says about the current state of our society, there is no doubt that text messaging is a powerful communication tool amongst college students. The opportunity exists for fraternities, sororities, councils, or any student organization, for that matter, to harness the power of text messaging by utilizing group text messaging to improve communications amongst members.

The two types of group texting:

One Way Messaging: One way messaging allows a single users to send a text message to a designated group of recipients. When any of the recipients replies to the original message, only the original user will see the reply.

Reply All Messaging: With reply all messaging, a text message can be sent to a large group, and any replies to the original message will be seen by all members of the group.

Applications for group texting in fraternities and sororities:

– Chapters can put every member in a one way messaging group. Then, you can send out meeting reminders, change of venue, news, and any other chapter information that needs to be delivered immediately. No longer will you hear the excuse of, “I didn’t check my e-mail today”.

– Chapter and Council executive boards and committees can create reply all groups that will allow for easier coordination of group activities. Coordinate an impromptu meeting, find out who can run to the store for supplies, or seek immediate feedback on a new idea you had.

– Panhellenic Councils can use group messaging during formal recruitment to coordinate the efforts of Recruitment Counselors, send updates and reminders to chapter Recruitment Chairs, and Potential New Members.

Free group texting services:

I have found two free group texting services that I can recommend; WeTxt, and BeGrouped. Very similar in features, these two services utilize a web-based user interface as the primary method for creating your groups, and configuring them to send either one way or reply all messaging through the website. Once your have set up your groups, you can send out your text messages via the website, or direct from your phone.

At the time of this post, neither service has a smart phone app, but my assumption would be that this will be their next step. Finally, both WeTxt and BeGrouped are still in beta testing, meaning they are not 100% reliable. They are, however, the best free group texting apps that I could find, and I have seen success with both.

Do you use group texting? What successes have you seen with it? Leave a comment here.

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They’re Coming to Take Your Facebook Away!

If your chapter happened to be an early adopter of Facebook Groups, then chances are your Group page will be archived very soon. Fraternity and sorority chapters (along with many other organizations, businesses, and high profile individuals) typically utilize the old Groups format in one of two ways; as a means of internal communication amongst members, or as a way to promote the chapter to non-members.

These separate uses could not be properly supported by one format alone, which is why Facebook created the “Pages” format, and designed a new “Group” format. To encourage old group users to pick a side, Facebook recently announced that all Groups created in the old Group format would be automatically archived, then converted into the new Group format.

If your chapter’s Facebook Group has this notice at the top of the page, then you too will have to pick a side.

The most significant outcome of this switch to a new Group format is that all members of your chapters group will be removed when your Group is converted to the new format. It will be the responsibility of the group administrator(s) to add all of your members back in to the Group.

If your chapter is still using the old Group format, this is the perfect opportunity to assess exactly what you’re chapter is hoping to accomplish with its presence on Facebook. Should you have a Page? Should you have a Group? My answer to both of these questions is “yes”.

Allow me to explain what I feel is the proper way for your chapter to best utilize Facebook.

Create a Page
To understand the Page format, imagine your chapter is a singular being with a personal Facebook account tasked with promoting your chapter. This is how you operate your page. Pages allow your chapter to post information in its profile, upload photos and videos, create and invite friends and followers to events, post comments on the Page wall which appear in your followers new feed, etc. Even cooler, you can integrate your Facebook Page with Facebook Places to allow any Facebook user to check into your chapter house. Your Facebook Page is your chapters brand, manage it as such.

Create a Group
Your Facebook Group is your chapter’s method of internal communications. You can set your group to private to ensure that only members are privy to the discussions within the Group. Use your Group to update members, create private events (chapter meetings, initiation, etc.), share photos and video, and even poll chapter members via the questions feature. You can use your Group for general discussion instead of your chapter e-mail listserv; this way your e-mail inbox won’t get blown up all the time. Any time a member posts on the group wall, everyone within the group will receive a Facebook notification, a feature not provided within Facebook Pages.

Groups are also a fantastic way for your alumni to stay connected with each other. Consider encouraging them to create a separate Group to keep each other updated on their major life changes, coordinate alumni gatherings, and even facilitate donations to the undergraduate chapter.


Follow these suggestions, and your chapter will be able to enjoy the best of what Facebook Pages and Groups have to offer!

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