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

If, over the past few weeks, you’ve paid an ounce of attention to one of the countless screens you view on a day-to-day basis, you have no doubt caught wind of what is going on around the NFL this fall. In the course of three weeks, numerous allegations have come out regarding domestic abuse, child endangerment, and the accused players have been in the limelight more than the actual gameplay.

However disturbing some of these offenses may be, it’s the league’s (and more importantly, the teams’) handling of each situation that has begun to catch my eye, and the attention of critics across the country. To keep a very long and detailed story concise, no one has handled this situation responsibly. Instead, NFL owners, coaches, and even the commissioner himself, have been sucked into what ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg very accurately dubbed, a vacuum of leadership.

His reasoning resonated with me, both as a fraternity leader and as a citizen, that leadership is supposed to be about truly clearing a path for others to follow, and never being afraid to stand up for what you know is right, moral, and true. In their dancing back and forth decision making process over the last week, the leadership of several major NFL teams has been displayed for what it truly is; cowardice.

True leadership is not reliant on the approval or opinion of others. Leaders do not wait around to see what the rest of the world thinks before acting. Leaders do not sit and make excuses while waiting for someone else to make a decision for them. Leaders, in our world, in our community, and in our fraternity, know the difference between right and wrong long before public opinion has to tell them otherwise. Our leaders are not afraid to say, “I’m not comfortable condoning this,” or “This is what needs to be done.”

 So to the NFL teams that continue to wait on the rest of the world for the right call, I say this. Make a decision, and stick with it. Even a decision everyone dislikes is a more profound statement of leadership and direction than what is currently happening in this league.

To the members of our fraternity, pay attention. Every day, for the rest of your life, you will be tested. You will be challenged. Your morality will be put to trial, and I promise you, it will always be easier to take the easy way out. It will always be easier to let someone make decisions for you, and it will always feel more comfortable to do so. But by joining this organization, you swore to lead. You swore to stand up for your beliefs, and to create a better world around you. I have faith that our generation can show the rest of the world that despite a lack of true leadership in our most popular sport, the young men who make a difference every day on college campuses across the country know what it really means to pave the way for everyone else.

Take this to heart brothers, and challenge yourselves to make a difference today. You alone control the impact you can have on this world. 

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to hand the undergraduate members of my chapter the Grand Sage’s Cup, the highest award given to a chapter of Sigma Pi. Now, having spent some time enjoying this amazing experience, and relishing the overwhelming feeling of knowing my chapter has officially “made it,” I’ve been able to take a way a few things that hadn’t immediately been clear to me.

  1. Just because it’s not “my” success, doesn’t mean it’s not a success
    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous at first. I worked hard for my chapter. I wanted to see this happen when I was able to celebrate with all my pledge brothers and those who recruited me. My initial thought was, “why couldn’t that have been us?” But after having my selfish moment, I realized what an amazing thing had really happened. I was recruited by some of the best. We continued to recruit some of the best, who went on to become the best. This was a win for everyone who has ever been involved in our chapter, because in one way or another, we all played a part, and the feeling those undergraduates now have is something no one will ever be able to take away from them.
  2. Success is a journey, not a destination.
    This wasn’t a one-off thing. Looking back two years, we walked away from convocation with a Grand Council award. Looking back 4 years, we did the same, and the same 2 years before that. True success isn’t something that just happens, it takes work, and the continued dedication to being better tomorrow than you were today. Some of our best chapters lose hope when they don’t immediately see the results of their effort, but if they continued to work hard, dedicate their efforts to continued success and triumph, and keep the work of success in mind, not the end goal, they might be surprised how much that comes back to them in dividends down the road. (Not to mention how much easier running their chapter would be!)
  3. There are now two very important responsibilities to my chapter.
    First, the undergraduates now have the responsibility to be better. I know that sounds foolish, considering the hardware they just walked away with, but like I just said, it’s a journey, not a destination. The Bulls didn’t stop playing basketball in the 90’s just because they finally walked away with the title. They won it again. And again. And three more times again. It took continual hard work, struggle, difficult decisions, and team effort to put six trophies in the United Center. (Hopefully seven, come on D-Rose…) Second, we as alumni have the responsibility to challenge our undergraduates, and keep them focused on the right things. We, who have now seen our tough losses and our sweet victories, need to work with our undergraduates and remind them just how fine the line between good and great can be.

So what does this mean for Expansion, since this is supposed to be an expansion-related blog at it’s core. We begin new groups every year, and put groups of new people together to try to accomplish something great on their campus and in their community. Many of those members may never see the true result of their hard work. That philanthropy you organized might not become a huge success until the group’s third year. Your colony might not charter until after you graduate. But in reality, none of that should matter. Rewards are an inevitable outcome of success. You as colony members should remember this, and remember how I feel right now. I didn’t get to win my trophy. I didn’t get to come home and tell everyone that we won. But the victory is still just as sweet as an alumna, knowing that I helped to build something that will never be torn down. 

Congratulations! As a chapter, you’ve made it through another year. You’ve probably had some ups, maybe a few downs, hopefully a lot of new experiences and made some great memories. Now you get to relax all summer, sit by the lake, and kick around for a few months until August, right?

I have enough faith in y’all to assume that you can see where this is going. When it comes to recruitment, the summer months are anything but down time. Its 90 days of opportunity that you can use to give your chapter a massive head start going into the next year, and unfortunately, it’s an opportunity too many of us squander every year. Let’s consider a few advantages to summer recruitment.

Time

Maybe you’re taking some summer classes, or maybe you took a part-time job/internship to pay that summer rent. Either way, I’m willing to bet the majority of your chapter has more free time during the summer months than they usually do from August to May. This is a major advantage when playing the recruitment game.

First-Impression

Putting in the work over the summer means that, to a handful of freshman or newly transferring students, you might be the first impression they have of student life at your university. Wouldn’t you like to set the bar pretty high?

Attention

By allocating more time to recruitment over the summer, you can afford to spend even more time meeting and developing relationships with specific pnm’s. Rather than rushing a forced relationship during your university’s recruitment week, why not take the extra time over the summer to actually give each of those pnm’s the attention they deserve?

“Neat-O ideas Armstrong, but how do you expect us to actually do it?”

Great question hypothetical member! Sumer recruitment doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a few very simple steps to get started.

Survey Your Membership

I’m going to assume roughly ¼ of your membership is comprised of freshman, right? Now what do you think are the chances that each of those freshman knows one person from their high school who will be attending your university next year? I bet they’re pretty high. Get their contact information, and have that member reach out to them.

Use University Resources

You know who definitely knows who will be attending your university next year? Your university. Reach out to your Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and ask if they have any kind of list of incoming freshman males. Then reach out to those young men and offer to have someone meet them to discuss fraternity life, involvement, and scholarship opportunities. Offer to meet their parents, trust me.

Don’t Hold “Events”

“Oh, you’re having a BBQ in a college town I’ve only visited once and I won’t know anyone there? No, that doesn’t sound intimidating at all.” Said no one ever. Make your recruitment efforts personal, intentional, and approachable. An event with all your brothers there and a band or game or whatever isn’t the most inviting thing for an incoming student to check out. Go to them, place more value on face-to-face interaction. After all, you’re not trying to impress anyone, you’re trying to build relationships.

“But Armstrong, no one else at our university recruits over the summer.”

Good. Imagine what an advantage you’ll have when you show up in the fall, ready to extend 50 bids before school even begins.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to begin making recruitment a priority for the summer. With just a little effort from everyone in your chapter, you’ll be surprised how quickly you see your chapter grow. For more specific details and recommendations for chapters of all sizes, not just small schools, (I see you SEC…) be sure to check out this blog on Summer Recruitment Tactics from Phired Up.

Enjoy your summer gentlemen, let’s make it a productive one. And as always, reach out with questions. I’m happy to help. 

In the never-ending battle between east coast and west coast, Sigma Pi has added its own storyline. Over the course of the next few weeks, Sigma Pi will officially colonize on two campuses on opposite ends of the country.

Read more: From New York to California: Sigma Pi Sets a High Bar for Growth

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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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