In writing “10 Issues Black Greeks Have with Their Grad Chapters”, I wanted to turn grad members’ attention to the cultures we create in our chapters.
It looks like the article was well-received by Divine Nine members, but one comment stood out.
Facebook user Cee Shaw-Rolle wrote:
“I concur wholeheartedly with each (point). But, I can see some people in the amen corner holding up a printed copy of this article and professing why they do not attend to commitment of lifelong service. But you are Miss Delta or Miss AKA or Miss SGRHO…on social media and at every party or Founders’ Day activity.”
I agree and would apply Cee’s argument to fraternity members, as well. A lot of responsibility comes with having letters and everyone needs to understand that.
The irony of great leadership is that it is complemented by effective followership, which is not the same as following. Following is simply going with the program. Followership is taking responsibility for being a critical part the program. As it was once written, “Effective followers do more than fulfill the vision laid out by their leader; they are partners in creating the vision.”1 The best contributors to grad chapters are those who engage in followership.
With that being said, let me replace the individual member hat I wore in my previous commentary with my active grad chapter member hat. Here are 10 issues that grad chapters have with the brothers and sorors in that “amen corner.”
Thinking There Should Be NO Monetary Investment Outside of Dues
Spending extra dollars here and there can be an inconvenience. On the other hand, the active committee-working brother in me understands that it takes money to run an organization. We are in membership organizations which, by definition, require members to literally buy into their operation. But let’s flip it.
Let’s look at the big picture and think of our monetary commitments as investments. We are investing in our fraternities’ and sororities’ missions and that includes spending extra dollars. By the way, being an investor gives you a voice.
The Peter Pan Syndrome
I jumped on grad chapters that are dominated by cultures of immaturity. Well, that goes both ways because there are individuals who bring immaturity to grad chapters. Yes sir, I know that meetings can be boring; but this isn’t a showcase. And ma’am, I’m so sorry that you are bored by service projects, wine and cheese soirées, and such. But events like those are designed to build influence in the community as part of achieving our missions. That’s something that selfies of poppin’ bottles in the club VIP won’t accomplish.
The Zero-Sum Attitude
You know that soror who wages war when she makes a motion and the vote doesn’t carry? Do you have a woke brother—like insomnia woke—who believes brothers are sell-outs for not taking on every cause that he believes in? Almost everything with these folks is a zero-sum discussion. Calm them down by pointing out others’ leadership qualities. Remind them of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Keeping Too Quiet
There are also those who don’t say enough. A chapter is always looking for its next generation of leadership, so speak up. It’s better to speak up than to be quiet and watch things go sideways, knowing you could have said something to prevent a disastrous chapter decision.
Making No Damn Sense
Don’t talk just to be heard; someone will challenge you. What that happens, don’t get mad, back your (stuff) up. Give the facts or rationale behind your words. If you’re going to say it, own it.
Lack of Tolerance for Diversity
The door swings both ways on this one, too. Don’t be the curmudgeon who is trying to figure out where all of these “different” brothers or sorors are coming from. Again, think in terms of consensus, and leverage that diversity to do so.
Treating Grad Chapter Meetings Like a Business Networking Event
Maaaan, some of y’all have NO chill. The grad chapter is not your business incubator. Don’t get me wrong, brothers and sorors support each other’s businesses; but that happens after relationships have been genuinely formed. Roll up your sleeves, help the chapter do this work, and we’ll go from there.
Treating Grad Chapters Like the Unemployment Office
I know, I know. When you were interested in your fraternity or sorority, folks spoke glowingly about career connections. Grad chapter members are more than happy to help with your career moves but we’re not the unemployment office. Still, there is a way to leverage grad chapter membership to build employment prospects. Use committee work to sharpen marketable career skills such as communication, organization, collaboration, and problem-solving. When you get results, add those accomplishments to your résumé.
Lack of Professionalism
I wrote about the chapter’s lack of professionalism in my previous blog but let’s talk about you. You can’t reap the benefits of your organization’s sparkling image and half-ass your grad chapter work. You’re a committee chair but refuse to submit written reports for meetings. You don’t like feedback when you make an error the public sees. How, Sway??? If you love your organization so much then have professional standards, please and thank you.
Dumping Brotherhood or Sisterhood for “Business”
As you read, I have an issue with grad chapters that become so preoccupied with “doing business” that they forsake brotherhood or sisterhood. Similarly, I have an issue with someone who didn’t join grad chapter (be it via reclamation or initiation) “to be anybody’s friend.” Really? Did you miss that part where they defined “fraternity” or “sorority” during intake? That’s alright. We love ya, anyway.
Being in a grad chapter is work. Like we always say, “the real pledging starts after you get in.” If grad chapter life isn’t for you at this point, that’s completely fine. Take all the time you need to be the best you that you can be. But if you want in with a grad chapter, remember the fundamentals of Black Greek life. Be that strong link that keeps the chain strong.
1 “A follower-centric approach to the vision integration process” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1048984311001974) by Jeffrey Kohles, Michelle Bligh & Melissa Carsten (The Leadership Quarterly, June 2012)
About the Author:
Eddie Francis is a speaker and talent acquisition professional who was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha in 1989 at Loyola University New Orleans. He publishes the Black Greek Success blog and has written about Greek life for HBCU Lifestyle, the Huffington Post, LinkedIn, the H.O.P.E. Scholarship, and the Greek Ladders. He has also provided commentary about Greek life for the HBCU Nation Radio Show, the HBCU Lifestyle Podcast, Al Jazeera America, and College Summit. Eddie is active in the Rho Nu Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha where he is chair of the public relations committee, and he is pursuing his master’s degree in Strategic Leadership from Tennessee State University. Eddie is the proud husband of Halima Leak Francis, a member of Zeta Phi Beta, and the proud father of Stevie. You can learn more at EddieFrancis.com.
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