Some of the most enlightening conversations that I have been able to witness occur when members of separate councils sit down to talk about the way that they operate as a chapter and/or council. Although we all have shared values, and face many of the same struggles, we often operate extremely differently.
I have seen women from National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council (NAPA, NALFO, etc.) chapters stare perplexed as a National Panhellenic Council woman tries to tell them about their formal recruitment process. Conversely, Interfraternity Council men and Panhellenic women are often confused as to exactly what their counterparts in the NPHC and MGC communities are up to.
This blog post will make the case for three things that NPHC and MGC chapters are doing right, and as such, need to be teaching our IFC and NPC organizations.
Attend any major NPHC/MGC event, and you will almost undoubtedly see members from that organization wearing letters or paraphernalia who you have never seen before. This is because they are members from other colleges and universities in the area who came to your campus in order to support their brothers and sisters. Because of their smaller chapter size at many institutions, NPHC and MGC chapters make incredible use of the support that is offered to them by other chapters in the state and/or region.
IFC and NPC chapters could learn a thing or two from this type of collaboration. Far too seldom do IFC and NPC chapters reach out to other chapters in a collaborative effort. If you’ve ever attended a workshop or conference with other chapters and/or organizations, then you should already know that other chapters are an amazing resource for new ideas. IFC and NPC chapters can utilize chapters in their areas for new ideas related to campus programming, socials, working with your national philanthropy and/or initiatives, and chapter structure and managements. Additionally, opportunities to collaborate exist in the areas of community service and philanthropy, leadership development, and much more.
Another thing that NPHC and MGC organizations do extremely well is instilling a lifelong commitment to the organization. Members choosing to join these organizations know full well that upon graduation they will be expected to remain active within the organization on the local/regional/state/national level.
Unfortunately, far too often within our IFC and NPC organizations, we here the phrase “I was in a fraternity/sorority when I was in college” or “I was in Alpha Alpha Alpha during my undergraduate years”. The only reason that any fraternity or sorority member should ever use these phrases is if they chose to leave, or were removed from their respective organization. IFC and NPHC chapters need to take a tip from NPHC and MGC organizations and instill this commitment before a bid is handed out. Potential new members need to fully comprehend the life-long decision they are making when they choose to accept a bid into your organization. Instilling this commitment will bring you truly dedicated new members that will transition into passionate, committed leaders within your organization as well as active, contributing alumni.
Respecting Organization History:
Here’s a quick experiment, walk up to the first 10 NPHC or MGC members that you can find; ask them to about their founders, and the history of the organization. Now do the same to the first 10 IFC or NPC members that you meet. I can promise you that without a doubt, every single NPHC and MGC members can name all of their founders, their founding principles, and provide you with a strong overview of their organizations history. I would not be so sure that would be the same for our average IFC and NPC members.
IFC and NPC members; have you ever noticed that NPHC and MGC organizations refuse to wear their letters in any color other than those established by their national organizations? Do you think it’s weird that they won’t let you put their letters or crest on your Greek Week shirt? Well, that’s because they place a special value upon the outward representations of their organization. I find it disconcerting when I see IFC and NPC chapters who buy their letters, or make their t-shirts in every color of the rainbow besides those established by their founding members. I understand the desire to stand out, be different, and have the coolest looking gear; but when you wear colors completely alien to your organization, you lose a piece of your organizations identity for which your founders worked diligently and deliberately to establish.
In addition, you will never, ever, EVER see a non-member of an NPHC or MGC organization wearing that organizations letters, crest, drop, tiki, etc., unless the national organization has a policy which allows for it under specific circumstances. So to my IFC men and NPC women, think twice before making that sweetheart shirt, or giving your best guy/gal a lavalier. When in doubt, talk to your national organization, and ask them what their policy is on non-members wearing your letters, logo, and crests. </rant>
Through these three areas in particular, our IFC and NPC chapters could learn a lot from NPHC and MGC chapters. If you are a member of and IFC or NPC chapter, take the time to talk with fraternity men and women from outside of your councils. Learn what they are doing well, and how you can implement these successes from within your chapter. If you are a member of an NPHC or MGC organization, feel free to share these successes, and explain why it is that you do certain things differently. Also, wait for my next post for ideas you could learn from IFC and NPC chapters.
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