It’s almost the Holiday Season everyone! While it’s clearly the most wonderful time of the year, it’s often followed by what can only be described as an absolute exodus of ¼ of your membership in the spring. I’m talking about that little switch that seems to go off in all of our seniors’ minds that says “Welp, guess my work here is done!” as they rather abruptly hand the chapter off to the rest of you.
The holiday season is all about spirit and a giving attitude, but it is also about setting goals for the upcoming year. So, let’s make a New Year’s Resolution this year to give our senior members a better reason to stick around and use their experience for the betterment of the chapter. But how do we do that?
A very simple way of keeping seniors involved, and one that my own chapter very enthusiastically practiced (oddly enough, beginning my senior year…) is the tradition of a Senior Specific Event. Ours was very crudely titled, Senior Weekend. The chapter appropriated a certain amount of every senior’s second semester dues to the event, with the remainder of the cost being covered by each of us. We set a date, and went to a golf resort for a weekend to spend time with the guys who we had spent four years building a brotherhood with. Talk about putting our senior dues to good use!
Another (somewhat more productive) way to keep your seniors involved is by doing just that; get them INVOLVED. Use the experience each senior has built up to better educate your new members. After all, it wouldn’t be too much work for most of your seniors to come into a new member education meeting each week and share some of the biggest lessons their last four years have taught them. Additionally, you might think about having one or two of your seniors serve on your standards board. Not only do they know what they’re doing, but they’ve seen it all before, and will probably command some welcome respect to the standards procedure in your chapter.
Let’s play the “what if” game for this last example and really think outside of the box. What if, your 1st Counselor spent a lot of his time in office contacting local alumni who work within a 50-mile radius of campus? Then, what if he coordinated a date in the spring that all of those alumni could come to campus for a few hours to advertise careers and internships in their field? THEN, what if you invited other nearby Sigma Pi chapters to attend this meeting and conducted it like any other campus job fair? BOOM, the Sigma Pi Job Fair just became your number one senior event, and you’ve found a way to not only keep them involved in the progress of your chapter, but you may have just given them a leg up in the professional world as well.
I don’t want to make it sound like every senior in the world is out of touch or indifferent about their chapter’s success come April or May. However, it’s all too common of a problem to see great members slip into an apathetic state, and that’s no way to end a great undergraduate experience in your fraternity. It’s clearly up to every senior to ultimately make the choice to stick around or not, but if you as a chapter can give them a good reason, I think you’ll be very pleased to see the results.