• Fraternity Recruitment
    Fraternity Recruitment Thoughts from the Expansion Department of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International

I guess I need to apologize before I go any further, because some of you are not going to like what I have to say. In fact, many of you won’t.

We’ve all heard the following argument in some form. “It isn’t fair that the media portrays us so negatively, they never report on any of the good that we do. They’re so biased.” Guys, I would agree with this argument 100%, if doing good wasn’t one of the basic pillars of what Fraternity & Sorority Life is supposed to represent. This article will discuss Integrity, Honesty, Respect, and Accountability, and, if I do my job properly, will hopefully encourage each of you to look at your fraternal experience a little differently and through a wider lens. So, let’s begin.

Quick, give me the first name, last name, and alma mater of every player on the Dallas Cowboy’s starting offensive line. (If you live in and around Texas, you’re excluded from playing this game. Even you, Houston…) My guess is that, while you may be able to name one or two, getting every single one right might be difficult. Why is that? The ‘14-’15 Cowboy’s offensive line was widely regarded as one of the best in the entire league, ranking 1st in Adjusted Line Yards, 5th in Total Pressures Allowed, and tied for Fourth in Pass Blocking Efficiency. Why then, in a world where we ALL know Tony Romo’s alma mater, yards per game, TD/INT ratio, favorite color and choice in breakfast cereal, can we not even name half of these guys who made that team what they were this year?

The answer is that the men on that line did exactly what they said they were going to do. When they signed a contract with the Cowboys, it was under the premise that they would prevent the loss of yardage, slow the pass rush, and above all else, protect their quarterback. (With the exception of one or two plays that made Jerry Jones’ heart skip a beat, they did just that.)

However, what DID we hear about this year in the NFL? Numerous domestic abuse cases, violations of the league code of conduct via drug and alcohol abuse, and a quarterback in Cleveland who we’re all convinced was rolling up hundred dollar bills in the bathroom of a nightclub for the sheer fun of it…

We hear about these things because they are all blatant examples of players doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t do under contract. They all agreed to a code, and then violated that code. So, given their celebrity status and our occasionally unhealthy obsession with the sport, (I’m guilty too, don’t talk to me during Fantasy Season…) it’s only natural that we hear all about it, sometimes in painfully explicit detail.

Let’s shift gears to another frequented topic in the media, the police force. Think long and hard about the last time you knew the names and home addresses of every police officer who pulled over a drunk driver? Or the officers who patrol inner city streets? Or even those who investigate murders and other violent crimes within your city? Again, those officers are doing what they said they would do, they are protecting and serving our citizens. What we hear about, however, are the officers who violate that code. We hear about the ones who use excessive force, who discriminate based on race or color, or who ignore the civil rights of citizens in their community. These officers are tarnished, regarded as an embarrassment to the force, and made local (and sometimes national) examples of. We hear about them because they did what they said they wouldn’t do.

Are you starting to see any parallels yet? Are you able to see some of the similarities between these organizations and our own? If not, let me give you a hand. Every one of us (Sigma Pi and other organizations) agreed to something similar to the following.

  • I will respect the dignity of all persons, and therefore, I will not physically, psychologically, or sexually abuse any human being.

  • I will respect the rights of property, both others and my own; therefore, I will not, nor will I tolerate, the abuse of private or community property.

  • I will not use nor support the use of illegal drugs.

  • I will not abuse or support the abuse of alcohol.

These are some of the basic tenants of fraternity membership. These are some of the basic tenants on human civility… These are some of the ideals we agree to represent, and as such, are basic expectations of any member. What about our creed, surely there can’t be any important agreements or expectations in that, can there?

  • to advance truth and justice

  • to promote scholarship

  • to encourage chivalry

  • to diffuse culture

  • to develop character in the service of god and man

  • I will strive to make real the fraternity’s ideals

Everytime we say our creed, we reaffirm our belief that these are the most important aspects of a man’s life. We agree that we are organized as a fraternity for the purpose of enforcing each of these ideals, and thus, it should be a basic expectation that we do so.

For all of these reasons, I urge you to stop falling back on that worn out argument we discussed at the beginning of this article. The media isn’t targeting you because they want to, or because we’re the low hanging fruit of the week. The citizens of your city, your state, and your country, are calling you out for not upholding a massive part of your contract. It doesn’t matter how many hours of community service your chapter has, or how much money you’ve raised for charity if you try to use that as a reason you shouldn’t be targeted for putting the safety of your members and guests in jeopardy. You’re not going to convince anyone that the amount of time you spend cleaning highways should cancel out the fact that you haze your pledges to the point of lasting physical and psychological trauma.

Doing what you said you would do will never compensate for the violation of doing what you explicitly said you wouldn’t.

We as a fraternal community have to stop focusing on how much our “good” outweighs our “bad,” and instead start focusing on not actually having any “bad” to worry about. Maybe then, we’ll be able to be recognized for our true purpose and impact. Until then, however, we have to accept our reality and how we will continue to be perceived by our peers until we can clean up our act.

Don’t like it? Do something about it.

 

For the past two years I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States as an expansion consultant for Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. It’s been a journey, to say the least, and my battle as a road warrior is coming to an end; however, I’ve been taking the past few days to reflect on every aspect of these past two years and keeps probing me to ask myself, “what do I believe?”

 

So here it is. The list of what I’ve begun to believe in from the past two years. A disclaimer before I begin: 1) Some of these were not innately my own. With all the people I’ve come in contact with I was bound to learn a thing or two - luckily, I learned a lot more.

 

  • I Believe in Sigma Pi. There’s no greater journey a man can take than a Quest for Excellence.

  • I Believe that you have to take chances. What growth can come from being comfortable all the time?

  • I Believe organizations can change the world, and that you are a key player in that organization.

  • I Believe in being authentic and genuine. Why be somebody else?

  • I Believe that our undergraduates have just as much to teach us, as advisors can teach them.

  • I Believe that as a Fraternity man you have taken an oath to be better than the average human being. Recognize it, live it, but don’t throw it in everybody’s face.

  • I Believe in making mistakes. Personal or professional - life is a learning process

  • I Believe that everybody has a skill set and you should learn to optimize those skills.

  • I Believe that we as leaders need to understand that difference in thinking we can do ‘anything’ rather than ‘everything.’ Learn that you can’t do everything well.

  • I Believe that philanthropy and service should be at the heart of our organizations. Unfortunately, we all need to do a better job at conveying it.

  • I Believe that when we start treating our brothers as just friends, there is merit to the idea that we are “paying for our friends.”

  • I Believe that I have the worst luck when it comes to checking into Southwest flights.

  • I Believe prejudice and discrimination towards any individual has no room in our organizations, and those who don’t agree should not be a part of this organization.

  • I Believe that Fraternity is transformative. Every day you should be a bit better than yesterday and aim to be better tomorrow.

  • I Believe that as social organizations we should be striving to promote social justice.

  • I Believe in the 189 men I’ve given bids to within these past two years.

  • I Believe in the 6 colonies I’ve been able to work with.

  • I Believe in the 2 colonies I was able to assist to chartering.

  • I Believe we are heading in the right direction.

  • I Believe that I don’t have all the answers but one day I most certainly will.

 

..and wherever my future opportunities take me, I hope to Believe in more.

 

Here’s to believing in you, me, and the power of Fraternity.


MD

In a rare moment of clarity, I've actually decided to make this month’s recruitment blog about recruitment. Imagine that! For many of you, the spring "rush week" is probably over, and you're about to sit back and enjoy a few months of relaxation and spring weather. (Jokes, everywhere is frozen and terrible except California, who we can all agree to hate on this month...) But if you're an avid follower of this blog, or have a shred of common sense, you know that recruitment isn't over for you. In fact, your work should really just be getting started, but where do you begin?

The answer, is goal setting. More specifically, SMART Goal setting. Though I'm sure many of you have already heard your Expansion Consultant or Regional Director discuss SMART Goals, let's briefly review their purpose:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timely

I want to focus on two key parts of SMART Goals, "Measurable" and "Realistic," because in my experience, these are two elements that are often misunderstood and can throw off the whole purpose of setting goals in the first place.

Measurable
Let's go ahead and get this out of the way, having a measurable recruitment goal doesn't just mean knowing how many guys you want to recruit, but that's a great start. A measurable recruitment goal means having benchmarks, knowing when you want to hit certain numbers, and being able to hold yourself accountable to those benchmarks throughout the semester/year. Here's an example of a bad measurable goal:

"We want to recruit 30 members this semester."

Now, here's an example of a better measurable goal

"We want to extend bids to 15 new members during our formal recruitment week, and extend bids to at least one new member every other week of the semester."

Do you see how even though both goals say the same thing, they automatically portray a very different type of recruitment, AND set smaller, more achievable (yes, I did that on purpose) goals along the way? Setting a goal like this allows you and your recruitment team to measure your success throughout the semester, and make necessary evaluations and changes as you go.

Realistic
Again, let's avoid some myths right away. A realistic goal does not mean "one we know we can easily achieve." A realistic recruitment goal is one set by honest reflection, introspection, and a willingness to responsibly challenge yourself. When chapters set realistic recruitment goals, they spend time finding the balance between "what we know we're capable of" and "what we want to be capable of."

I use the term balance because it needs to be just that; if the goal is set too low, the recruitment team (and ultimately the chapter) are not challenged enough to progress and develop. However, if we set our goals too high, we risk being disheartened and discouraged by not achieving them. Let's review some examples again, here is an unrealistic goal:

"Since we recruited 30 men last semester, we want to recruit twice as many this semester."

There's not necessarily anything wrong with this goal, as long as the recruitment team has the data and information to prove that it is achievable. (Yep, on purpose again.) However, at face value, it seems pretty unrealistic to think that any group could recruit double their last recruitment numbers based solely on will power. Here is what a more realistic goal might look like:

"Since we recruited 30 men last semester, and know from evaluating our prior successes and areas of opportunity that we missed out on extending bids to at least five other PNM's, we want to recruit 37 men this semester by recruiting 22 men during our university's formal recruitment week, and extending bids to at least one new member every week of the semester after that."

Note the measurable follow up to the realistic number? Also, notice that while the second number seems slightly high, it was set by analyzing where we had missed out on bids in the prior semester AND challenging our recruitment team to increase their numbers by two additional people. Now, we could spend days talking about that analysis step, but that can be another blog for another day. The important thing to remember is that setting goals too high can be problematic for any recruitment team, but setting them too low can be equally as damaging.

Spend time on this. Recruitment goals should not be set by one person in the group looking at a number and adding “x” more extended bids. This should be a team effort (preferably the recruitment team) and should take some time. Be realistic with yourselves, but challenge each other as well. When done right, goal setting should be exciting and inspiring, and should set measurable benchmarks throughout the semester so you can hold each other accountable as you go.

Send me your recruitment goals and how you came to them, and I'll share your chapter or colony's story in my next update!

 

I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Middle Tennessee State University FSL Community this week as they held an IMPACT session, a leadership development and educational program organized by the NIC, for the newly elected leaders of their chapters and councils. As a small group facilitator, I had the opportunity to work alongside a 25-year volunteer for a national sorority, and assist nine young leaders in understanding their potential, their purpose, and their shared vision. After three days of early mornings, late nights, and a whole lot of walking from one side of camp to the other, a few important lessons began to sink in for both the students, and the facilitators.

          1. We all face the same issues, and the times haven’t changed much.

IFC, Panhellenic, NPHC, it doesn’t matter. We all share common burdens when working with our chapters, and very few of the issues we struggle with our actually exclusive to our organizations. The real struggle is overcoming our pride, exclusivity, and fear of change in order to find collaborative solutions. What we discussed and accomplished in our small group was only a single piece of a much bigger puzzle. Similarly, the issues we face as councils today are the same issues we faced 25 years ago. The difference, however, is that today we are equipped with the knowledge and vision to correct our mistakes, and the available resources to make that vision a reality.

          2. It’s ok to be proud of our accomplishments, as long as we also admit our flaws.

As a community, we focus a lot of our time on sharing our successes. “Look how many new members we recruited this semester!” “Look how much money we raised for our philanthropic partner!” “Look at how many hours of mandatory community service our members completed this year!” I think, at times, we might be guilty of fitting ourselves with blinders, and willfully choosing to ignore the serious issues within our organizations because, as we’ve made a habit of sharing, we’ve been doing so well in other areas. We’re not being fair to ourselves trying to have one without the other. Recognizing and acting on our opportunities is practically the definition of progress, a concept I know our members hold dear.

          3. There is an overabundance of help available to you, and it often goes unnoticed.

It really is uncanny how much support you have available to you as an undergraduate member of a fraternity or sorority. Between your specific Chapter Advisors, Regional Advisors, Graduate Assistants at your university, full time FSL Advisors employed by the university, travelling staff working for your national organization, and a plethora of other Directors and Coordinators in your office of student activities who, above all else, are deeply invested in seeing their students develop and succeed, you’d have to try pretty hard to find yourself in a situation where no one was available to offer you help and support. Sometimes, the easiest and the hardest things to do are the same, and in this case, that may just be reaching out admitting that you need a helping hand. Never be afraid to ask for guidance, we are all here to see you thrive.

 

picture courtesy of MTSU FSL Facebook Page

 

For information about bringing IMPACT to your campus, or any other NIC programs, check out the NIC website here

*Special thanks to the MTSU FSL Community for allowing me to experience such a great retreat with them, the NIC for coordinating the program, and to my small group, the Fantastic Chapter 4, who I know will continue to show their peers what it means to lead by example. #TrueBlueMove

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About Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong serves as Director of Expansion of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. Founded in 1897, Sigma Pi Fraternity is the leading, international men's collegiate fraternal organization which provides training, guidance and innovative opportunities for Leadership Development, Social and Personal Development, Academic Achievement, Community Service and Heightened Moral Awareness for its brothers throughout their lives.

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