Alcohol And Recruitment

By Keith Ellis (with a big shout out to his Graduate Assistant James Crawford for providing ideas and suggestions)

Alcohol and fraternity recruitment; on many campus these two items are unfortunately synonymous with each other. Our fraternity men often believe that recruits are “looking for alcohol” or will not join unless we give them alcohol. Reality says that recruits will take their cues from you, the recruiters. If you can show them a good time without alcohol, they wont miss it. If all you talk about is alcohol and parties they will look for it and expect it, and if you hand them a beer as soon as they walk through the door you will have a member who expects to have alcohol at every function from that point on. The fact is, it is our members who want to have alcohol at recruitment because they just do not know how to talk to new recruits without a beer in their hand. Conversation is hard and translating our fraternal values into words can be even harder if our members do not have experiences with our values to fall back on. Below are some common excuses fraternity advisors hear about why fraternities need alcohol at recruitment, and the rebuttals to those arguments. Use this in your next recruitment planning meeting when the guy in the back of the room who only shows up for parties and just happened to wander into your meeting starts to speak up.

1. He’s Not Who We Thought He Was

We’ve all been there, at a party somewhere and there’s this random guy hanging out who starts to get a little out of control. No one is really sure who he is or how he got there but all of a sudden he’s starting a fight, or creeping out the female guests, or puking his guts out in the bathroom. Now multiply that by the number of recruits you have at your event. No one really knows any of these guys, where they are from, what their names are or what their background is. They could be cool, chill and fun to hang out with, or they could be violent, belligerent, or a rapist; but you gave them alcohol that night so the responsibility for their behavior belongs to you and your chapter.

2. A Modern Day Animal House

As fraternity men we spend a lot of our time combating the “Animal House Myth” that fraternities exist just to party, haze the pledges, use women and flunk out of school. When we spend our time recruiting with alcohol we just reinforce that stereotype; what our community shows potential members is that we cannot even go a week without drinking. Yet we wonder why the media likes to portray fraternities with the same “Animal House” lens.

3. But We Are a Social Fraternity

Have you ever looked up the definition of social in a dictionary? Social is defined by friendship, relationships, alliances and interactions. Not once do the words “party” or “alcohol” get mentioned. We are members of social fraternities, fraternities that are built on friendship and brotherhood, not alcohol.

4. But When You Drink You Find Out Who He Really Is     

This excuse assumes that when you drink you are having real conversation and that you cannot have a real conversation without alcohol. The reality is that more real conversations happen every day without alcohol than with it. Having positive interactions with people can provide meaning to the conversation, can build stronger relationships and is likely to bring the recruit back the next day. Fraternities should be teaching our men to have these conversations sober to prepare them for the real world where alcohol is not the base of all conversation.

5. We Can’t Get the Active Brothers to Show Up for Recruitment Without Alcohol

Ever wonder why a chapter that doesn’t recruit with alcohol has so much more success getting brothers to show up for recruitment (and everything else)? It’s because when you recruit with alcohol you end up with a bunch of alcoholics and men who don’t know how to hang out together without alcohol being present. Pretty soon every activity your chapter does without alcohol has poor attendance because no one wants to go if they cannot drink.

6. But the Recruits Will Not Come if We Don’t Have Alcohol

First of all do you really want to recruit guys that are only looking for alcohol? Those are probably the guys that will only show up for parties too, and will cause problems when they are there. Secondly if you create an environment where the recruits feel comfortable hanging out with each other and make your recruits feel welcome in your house or recruitment location they will not need alcohol to have a good time. Men bond together in friendship and brotherhood naturally, you just have to plan ahead and have activities going on to facilitate that bonding.

7. All the Other Fraternities are Using Alcohol

Recruitment is all about branding yourself. It is the Public Relations arm of your not for profit organization, so of course you want to brand yourself as being better than the other fraternities on your campus. Why then do you all try to do the exact same activities as one another (i.e. all attempt to use alcohol as your main recruitment tool). Stand out, be different, choose a new path. Establish yourself as the fraternity that can hang out together without alcohol. Show the men who are looking for more out of their fraternity experience that your chapter has something to offer. Let the other chapters recruit the problem members while you get all the guys that want more from the fraternity than four drunken years.

8. We Need Alcohol to Have Fun

If this is true than the real world will not be kind to you. We have all had valuable experiences with our chapter brothers sober whether those experiences are white water rafting, doing an outdoor ropes course, attending chapter meeting or just sitting down and having a meal together. We know that alcohol is not the only way to have fun so why create that façade during recruitment? When we do, the recruits begin to expect everything to involve alcohol.

9. It’s Against the Law (and your National Policies)

I hate using the law argument but the reality is that throughout the United States of America the legal drinking age is 21. Very few fraternity recruits are of the age where they can legally consume alcohol, and it is illegal for the chapter to provide alcohol to recruits. Additionally your national fraternity has rules against having alcohol during recruitment and you put your status as a fraternity at risk when you decide to ignore this policy.

Keith Ellis is the Associate Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of South Carolina. Keith spent three years at the University of Kentucky as the fraternity advisor and worked diligently with the fraternity leaders there to build a strong values based community. Keith graduated from the University of Memphis in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and during his time as an undergrad was a chartering member of the Tennessee Beta chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon and served on the Standards Board, as Vice President of Recruitment and as President. Keith received his Maters in Higher Education Administration from the University of Kansas before moving to Kentucky to be the Assistant Director of Student Involvement. Keith is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Policy Evaluation focusing on legal issues and hazing in Greek Letter Organizations. Keith has served as a UIFI facilitator and is on the faculty for the Novak Hazing Prevention Institute. 

The Trickle Down Effect – A Recruitment Strategy

By Michelle Merritt

Effective recruiting of new members comes from first and foremost truly believing in what your organization stands for and being passionate when conveying that message.  But, who are you telling your message to?  Anyone who will listen?  Are you strategic about your delivery?

#1 Strategy: Recruit men with high GPAs

As a Dean working with Greek organizations for many years  I’ve seen chapters come and go, but the most stable fraternal organizations are those that maintain an overall high GPA.  How do they maintain their high GPA?  Easy………by recruiting members with a high GPA in the first place.  Sometimes we get into a dangerous mindset of thinking that we should offer a bid to a potential member because he’s ‘a good guy’ and would make a great brother.  Think again.  This decision will have negative consequences.

So, why recruit new members with high GPAs in the first place?

  • Men with higher GPAs are more likely to recruit  other men with higher GPAs.
  • Your members are more likely to be involved in high profile leadership positions on campus.
  • Your chapter will retain more members.
  • Your chapter will be stronger and stick around for a lot longer than the others.
  • High chapter GPAs make you chapter eligible for local and national awards and recognition.


So, how do you figure out who has high GPAs on campus?

  • Offer scholarships to potential new members the summer before they arrive.  The applications tell the story.
  • Have potential members sign a grade release form BEFORE extending a bid.  Your Greek Life office should have these available.
  • Ask your college or university to provide you lists of members of academic honorary organizations, e.g., Blue Key or Mortar Board.
  • Tap into your college’s honors program?  Can you get class lists?
  • Ask college department chairs for referrals.
  • Recruit Residence Life staff members or other students in high profile leadership positions that have grade requirements.

If you are responsible for the success of your fraternity then start with a successful strategy!

Michelle Merritt is the Associate Dean of Students at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.  She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Womens Fraternity.  Michelle graduated from Monmouth College in 1989 with a B.S. in Speech Communications and went on to receive her M.S. in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  Prior to her current role at Monmouth College, she served as the Assistant Director of Housing at the University of Central Missouri and Residence Hall Director at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

Becoming Someone’s “Person”

By Tabatha Sarco

Ask any fraternity man or sorority woman who their “person” is, and they can tell you instantly. It’s the one person that they feel is responsible for their membership in their organization. Whether it’s the person that continuously called, texted, and Facebook crept you until you came to an event, or the person that connected with you over free hamburgers, it’s the one person that you believe helped sell you on this thing we call fraternity. For me, it was Lindsey. Lindsey and I shared a few classes together. It was something about the way that her face lit up when she talked about her sorority, or how happy she was when I saw her with sisters…Or maybe it was that when I talked to Lindsey, she would tell me about how much I would be an asset to the sorority, instead of trying to sell the sorority to me. Whatever it was, I wanted to be a part of it.

As you begin the school year and delve into the crazy time of recruitment, think about your person. Think about the guy that really connected with you and made you seriously consider what it would be like to be a member of Phi Delta Theta. Then ask yourself what you need to do to become someone else’s “person.”

So often, we focus on selling ourselves based on our accomplishments from the past year- Greek Week champ, All Sing winner, Intramural champ, and the amount of money we’ve raised for our philanthropy. Don’t get me wrong- those are big wins! Often though, we forget why the men are really walking through our doors. Men are walking through our door looking for brotherhood. They’re looking for an opportunity to get involved on campus. They’re looking to become a part of something bigger than themselves. They’re looking for a place that they can walk into and feel comfortable; a place to call home.

My advice to you is that instead of spitting out random facts about your organization, take a little extra time to share your story. Why did you join Phi Delta Theta, and what have you gained from your experience thus far? Likewise, be a listening ear and find out what the men that you’re talking to are looking for in a fraternity. Have high expectations in the quality of men that you’re looking for, but also ensure that you’re living up to those expectations. Think about your cardinal principles of friendship, sound learning, and rectitude, and share what striving to live those daily means to you.

And if you do these things, you may just become someone’s “person.”

Tabatha Sarco is currently the Assistant Director of Student Involvement of Lynchburg College, located in Virginia. Before coming to LC, Tabatha completed her Masters in College Student Personnel at Bowling Green State University, where she advised the Interfraternity Council. Tabatha is a 2006 graduate of Austin Peay State University, which she earned her degree in Psychology and Leadership Studies. She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.

Your Phi Delta Theta Legacy May Not Yet Be Recruited…

By Keith Lopez

At Phi Delta Theta leadership conferences and in conversations with undergraduates, the following question has been posed many times – “What do you want your Phi Delt legacy to be?”  Not legacy in terms of a relative who will become a future brother, but instead in terms of the impact you want to leave behind for your chapter and our organization. While for many of you, that may be a difficult question to answer at this point in your life.  As a Chapter Advisor and a higher education professional, I always think that my legacy as a Phi Delt may actually be a Phi Delt undergraduate student, one that I may get to work with who does something that positively impacts our world. How many of you have ever thought about the Phi Delt legacy you hope to leave and how that relates to who you bring into your organization next?

Well, it’s now that time of the year.  For the past few weeks, college campuses everywhere have been busy welcoming students back to campus; energy is brewing, excitement for a new year is everywhere, college football is beginning and fraternity men everywhere have jumped back into regular operations after a summer break.  Thousands of men are walking around campus, not knowing that they could be a part of one of the greatest organizations to exist for men…. If only a connection could be made with a Phi Delt on their campus….

While many chapters recruit year-round, the fall generally provides an extra focus on the recruitment process and the growth of your chapter.  While this excitement is apparent,  for many chapter leaders, it can also be an incredibly frustrating time. Chapter leaders may already be hearing the following excuses:  “Recruitment is hard”, or “It’s not my responsibility to recruit, that’s why we elect a Recruitment Chairman”, or “I’ve already put my time into this chapter!” We’ve all heard these before from the same members, and we know who they are. Picture them, name them… again, we know who they are…

Upon being asked to write this post, my mind was spinning about all of the different things I could write about that are recruitment related.  It wasn’t until yesterday, while having a conversation with one of the fraternity men that I advise, that I posed the question, “What do you want your Phi Delt legacy to be and what contributions have you made to this organization?” This caused me to think about the many conversations I’ve had over the past four years regarding the recruitment process and the subsequent impact it has on an organization.  The creation of your Phi Delt Legacy may have begun when someone recruited you.  It can now be amplified when you recruit someone else who has the potential to create an immeasurable and positive impact on your chapter and our organization.  So if the journey of leaving your mark as a Phi Delt begins with the recruitment process, how do you combat myths or misunderstandings of what recruitment should be?  Below are some thoughts on re-examining how your chapter recruits and redefining the recruitment process to help you leave your Phi Delt Legacy:

Recruitment is what we do as fraternity men.

Just like any other organization, in order to survive, we need to be continuously recruiting. Many say, recruitment is the “lifeblood” of the organization, and it truly is. Without it, we don’t stay alive.  If members of your chapter do not want to grow their own organization, why did they join?  How are they acting on what they pledged to do in the Phikeia oath?  And more importantly, how were they recruited? This could teach you a lesson in who not to bring into your chapter in the future.

Recruitment is not a week or 2 week process.  Recruitment is every day.

The most successful chapters make recruitment a part of the culture.  It’s what you do every day.  It’s not a two week process along with the other fraternities.  It’s not over just because your week or two weeks of doing large events has ended and you have matched the same number you did the previous year.  Recruitment is a continual process of making positive and meaningful connections with other college men and introducing them to your organization to determine whether or not they would make a good addition to your chapter.

Recruitment is about making a connection… an authentic one.

I was walking around the Student Involvement Expo on the campus I work at last week, watching hundreds of student and community organizations promote themselves to potential members.  There was a clear difference between the chapters that were making connections and those that were not.  Those that were not were passing out flyers for their organizations and allowed students to grab them and walk by.  Those that were making connections had meaningful conversations with students lasting more than three minutes before even handing out a flyer to the interested party. To make authentic connections, you have to ask questions, not only the typical name, where from, major questions, but more than that.  Think about how you can truly get to know that person.  How can you learn about why they ended up there at that table, in that space, and at that time, having a conversation with you? How did that happen?  Why is the conversation happening?  Find commonalities.  Learn about their passions and interests and go from there. It’s simply the art of meeting people and making them your friends, friends who you may want to make your brothers someday. This is more than just handing someone a flyer…

Recruitment is about the little experiences others have with us.  

When you think about creating meaningful connections, remember that every interaction one of your members has with another individual is a recruitment opportunity.  Scary isn’t it?  Maybe not as much as it seems. Let me break it down for you.  Think about it this way.  Every time you interact with another individual regardless of gender, you could be making a connection that could lead to another connection that could ultimately lead to a brother.  A student-leader I worked with e-mailed me today.  He noticed that I currently serve as the Chapter Advisor for the Phi Delt chapter on campus and wondered how he could meet the members of the chapter.  He had recentlybecome interested in fraternity life, and I was able to connect him to the chapter based on our past experiences.  Thinking more broadly, how are others experiencing you on a daily basis, and how does that relate to creating potential connections?  Just something to reflect on.

Recruitment is not hard, but it does take effort and organization.  

Recruitment is not a one man job.  It takes the entire chapter. While recruitment is what we do, occurs every day, and is about making connections, it does take an investment by multiple individuals to make it work.  It also takes clear organization.  Who is keeping track of potential new members and how?  What are your standards for potential new members?  If you do coordinate some larger events as part of recruitment, who assists with the planning and coordination?  What does individual outreach to potential new members look like?  To be able to recruit, you’ve also got to have these logistical pieces figured out.

While the above may not tell you exactly how to recruit, my goal was to provide a framework for reflecting on your current recruitment process or structure.   In order to make adjustments, begin to think a bit differently about the impact of your recruitment strategies.

With that, start now, and begin the process of creating your own Phi Delt legacy through the recruitment of others. You never know, your Phi Delt legacy could be the guy sitting next to you in your 10am class tomorrow morning and that connection is just waiting to be made…

Keith currently serves as the Coordinator for First & Second Year Programs in Orientation & Transition Programs at Colorado State University where he coordinates the welcome week/fall orientation program, a mentoring program and a conference for first-year students as well as second year student experiences. He also teaches in the first year of the President’s Leadership Program and the Greeks Against Sexual Assault Training Seminar. Additionally, Keith has been working on creating a small business in northern Colorado focused on providing leadership and team development consulting services. He currently serves as the Chapter Advisory Board Chairman for the Colorado Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Theta.

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Recruitment as an Undergrad

By Alex Carrick – Senior Leadership Consultant

Fall is one of my favorite seasons for multiple reasons: college football, apple cider and fraternity recruitment.  If your chapter has actively recruited new members during summer vacation, congrats.  My guess is the vast majority of chapters are gearing up for the yearly meat market known as “formal rush” where you hope complete strangers walk through your front door, eat your wings and then accept their bid at the end of the week.

Working as an Expansion Consultant, I’ve picked up on numerous recruitment strategies that are proven to work, but are rarely utilized. I recently made a comment to a co-worker that I wish that I knew all these strategies as an undergraduate.  Instead of dwelling on the past, I decided to pass on my knowledge to all of you in the form of this list. Without further ado:

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Recruitment as an Undergrad:

#1 –  Use the IFC Recruitment List

Does your IFC provide a list of all people that have signed up for/shown interest in recruitment?  Do you get that list days/weeks/months in advance?  If so, there’s no reason to not start contacting those people immediately.  They’ve already shown interest, and that’s half the battle in recruitment.


In conjunction with #1, if that IFC list gives phone numbers, use them.  It may feel awkward at first, but they’ve already shown interest.  It’s easy to ignore an email or text, but everyone picks up the phone (it could be a girl!).  Your conversation looks something like this:

You: Hi is this _______________?
Them: Yeah
You: Hi, My name is ________________ and I’m calling in regards to your fraternity interest form.
Them: Yeah?
You: I’m with Phi Delta Theta looking for the best and brightest here at ______________ and after looking at your past accomplishments you were someone I had to talk to.
Them: Okay
You: I was wondering if you had 10-15 minutes to meet in the Union and talk more about this opportunity?
Them: Sure, I have a break tomorrow from 10-12
You: Perfect, lets meet at 10.  I’ll text you a couple hours before to make sure that time still works and I look forward to meeting you.

That’s it.  In 2-3 minutes you just got the first crack at a top-flight Potential New Member before Formal Recruitment even starts.

#3 – A Cup of Coffee is Cheaper Than 300 Wings

Personal experience has shown that having a personal 1-on-1 meeting is a much more effective recruitment tool than hoping the greatest students on campus are craving wings.  Take a second to imagine how much money your chapter spends on food, now calculate how many cups of coffee could be bought at individual meetings (For my fellow Poli Sci majors, take that amount and divide by $2).  The best part: most PNM’s will decline the free cup of coffee.

Use the meeting as a chance to get to know the PNM on a more personal level, as well as finding out if they meet your standards for membership (see #10).  Once you get the introductions over with, briefly explain the benefits of Phi Delta Theta, as well as Greek Life in general.  As a reminder those are:

  • Making a big school feel smaller, joining the wider Greek community
  • Lifelong friendships
  • Networking (175+ campuses, 160,000 living alumni)
  • Leadership Opportunities
  • Giving back to the community
  • Non-Hazing Fraternity
  • Alcohol-Free Housing
  • Direct business applications (sales, event planning, project management, accounting, marketing)

On average you should aim to talk no more than 60% of the time.  While its important to get your message across, it becomes easy for PNM’s to lose interest.  In order to combat this, ask the following ownership questions:

  • What was the biggest lesson you learned in your sport/community service/leadership position?
  • Where do you see yourself going after college, and how do you plan to get there?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Tell me about a time you faced adversity and how you over came it?

If these sound like job interview questions, they are.  Actively listen to their responses and try to tie in their answer to one of the benefits above.

#4 – Events Do Not Matter

Every time an undergraduate asks me what the best rush events are, steam erupts sideways from my ears Looney-Toons style and my blood pressure spikes.  Any event that encourages genuine conversation is a “good” recruitment event.  Some of the best chapters in North America incorporate recruitment into events they already do as a chapter like pick-up sports and community service.

#5 – Get Out of the House

Just like your mom when you played too many video games, I’m telling you to GO OUTSIDE!  Far too often chapters hold all their recruitment events at their chapter facility.  Imagine you’re a freshmen on a new campus.  You meet a sophomore who invites you over for free food at his fraternity house later that night.  You walk up to the address to find a colossal 4-story house with strange letters that are so big you could see them from space.  You slowly climb each of the 12 stone stairs and are face to face with a giant red door and can hear a dull roar of conversation and music coming from the other side. Kind of intimidating right?  Look outside your four walls for opportunities both on-campus and in the community.  You would be shocked at how many CHEAP and FREE opportunities there are out there.

#6 – Dress to Impress

Its hard to look a PNM in the eye and say you’re part of an elite social organization wearing shorty-jorts and a party tank.  I’ll take it a step further and even say wearing matching shirts make you look like a cult.  At a minimum, I would suggest un-ripped jeans or shorts with a collared shirt and nice shoes.  Additionally, the best-of-the-best students are not going to be impressed by a t-shirt with references to alcohol, drugs or sex.  There’s also a great opportunity here.  Ask a couple girls from your favorite sorority to put on a “Dress For Success” seminar for the chapter.  You’ll learn a lot AND improve your sorority relations.

#7 – Train Your Members
Everyone has heard the cliché “You’re only as strong as your weakest link”, and recruitment is no exception.  Every member should be proficient in these basic social skills: handshakes, eye contact, conversation and remembering names.  Also every member should know and be able to communicate information about the following: local and international history, dues, hazing policy, time commitment, leadership opportunities, academics, housing and networking.  If a Potential New Member asks five different brothers about dues, and gets five different answers, how does that make your chapter look?  This is another opportunity to call upon your favorite sorority and have members practice their skills and responses.

#8 – Bumping

One of the most common responses for a PNM choosing one chapter over another is “I knew more people there.”  For as much as I personally dislike sorority formal recruitment, they excel in this area due to a process called bumping.  Without getting too technical, the concept is to engage PNM’s in a meaningful and memorable conversation and then pass them off to another member with something in common.  Through this method, Potential New Members are meeting and connecting with more than one person in the chapter in a meaningful way.  If you haven’t picked up on the recurring theme here, re-read the last sentence in #6 and #7… wash, rinse, repeat.

#9 – Dealing with Millennials

This generation of students has been told they’re special from birth.  Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage and stroke their ego a little bit more.  It may feel strange at first, they will be more focused on the compliment than anything else.  Try and use the following phrases/questions in conversation:

  • You’re level of involvement is impressive
  • You’re exactly the type of student we’re looking for
  •  How did you maintain such a high GPA and stay so involved?
  • You exceed all of our qualifications
  • What weren’t you a part of?
  • You’re the most impressive candidate I’ve seen all  day/week/month/summer
  • I think you would bring a huge benefit to our organization

The above statements can be combined with a solid pre-close for a great 1-2 punch.  This is also a chance to mention that you should never lie to PNM.  If your chapter is deficient in some area of operation, use this concept to show opportunity.

Example: You’re talking to a PNM who regularly does over 100+ community service hours a year and has won national recognitions, but your chapter is last on campus in service hours.  You say: “ Our chapter has been working really hard to improve our community service program, based on all the work you’ve done you seem like exactly the right person to step into a leadership position right away and lead the charge”.

#10 – Set High Standards and Tell Everyone

If there was only one thing on this list I wish I could go back and change, this would be it.  Too often bids are given out because a PNM is “Cool, Legit and Solid”.  As organizations that strive for greatness, we should hold ourselves and our PNM’s to higher standards.  This is accomplished by creating what’s called a Values-Based Recruitment Criteria, which articulates important values, and measurable criteria for membership.  A great way to set these standards can be found HERE on page 15.

The next step is communicating these standards.  If I was a chapter participating in formal recruitment with a house, I would find a way to put those criteria on a banner that takes up an entire wall.  This banner would be so big it would be impossible to miss.  In addition, I’d print out copies and post them on every door, every bathroom stall and in all my recruitment materials.  This serves two purposes.  First, it shows PNM’s that you hold members up to the high standards that you agreed to when you signed The Bond and that you’re an elite organization.  Second, it deters all those who do not meet your standards so you have more time to focus on your 5-star prospects.

It is also important to revisit these criteria on a regular basis, and slowly ratchet them up until the entire chapter is full of the campus’ best leaders.

Alex graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science. Within his Chapter he held the offices of Philanthropy Chairman, Vice President, Recruitment Chairman and two terms as Phikeia Educator. Beyond his Chapter, he also served on the Greek Week Steering Committee and IFC as the Vice President of Recruitment. Through his hard work and effort both inside and outside of his Chapter, he was honored as a “Distinguished Greek Leader of 2010” which was awarded to six students out of a Greek Community of over 5,000. Brother Carrick has had the pleasure of attending all three major conferences: ELI, RBC/RW and PLC and he is the President of the Oxford Alumni Club.

What Matters Most in Recruitment

By Michael Boulter – Kettering University

I’ve always felt that Phi Delta Theta isn’t your typical fraternity and, as a result, attracts the kind of guy who is looking for something more in his college experience. It wasn’t until recently that my chapter, Michigan Delta, was able to produce hard evidence to back up this belief.

After a very successful fall recruitment that produced our chapter’s largest Phikeia class in nearly 20 years, our recruitment committee saw a valuable opportunity to evaluate what potential new members are looking for in a fraternity. We created a survey that covered all the bases, with questions ranging from their first thoughts about Greek Life to the factors that mattered most in deciding to accept their bid to Phi Delta Theta. Additional questions, such as when and where they met their first Phi Delt, were intended to help us to further evaluate our campus presence and our recruitment strategies. After finalizing our question set, we had the Phikieas answer the survey at their first meeting of the term.

The results of our survey couldn’t have been clearer.

Out of our 14 Phikeias, only one of them was interested in Greek Life when he first came to Kettering University. All of the others either hadn’t considered joining a fraternity or were leery of them, based on their preconceptions. The results were, once again, extremely clear when we asked those who hadn’t initially considered Greek Life what changed their mind. The most common response was “the people”, while “the opportunities provided by a fraternity” also got a few mentions.

Later in the survey, we listed a variety of factors and asked the Phikeias to rate (on a 1 to 5 scale) how large of a role each one played in their fraternity decision. The runaway favorite was “People and Friendships”, which nearly received a 5’s across the board. “Morals of the House”, “Dry House”, and “Academics” were the other factors that received an average rating above a 4.0. All other likely reasons for joining a fraternity (“Athletics”, “Affordable Housing”, “Chapter Size”, etc) averaged out in the middle ground and had quite a bit of variability, depending on who you were asking.

I feel that the results of this survey do an excellent job of highlighting a few areas that deserve everyone’s attention during this fall’s recruitment. The main thing that we need to keep in mind is that the overwhelming majority of our future brothers aren’t looking into joining a fraternity. It’s something that they won’t actively pursue, which means that we have to go about recruiting them in a slightly different manner. Rather than hoping that potentials come into our chapter house to meet us, we need to get out of our house and go meet them. It’s no coincidence that our brothers who were the most active on campus were listed the most frequently as the first Phi Delt that our Phikeias had met. The greater the presence that your chapter has on campus, the higher the odds that you’ll meet a potential new member, make friends with him, introduce him to a few of your brothers, extend to him a bid, and have him decide that he wants to join your chapter. There’s a reason why chapters that are highly involved on campus always do well during recruitment.

The other thing main point of our survey was that people join people. Friendship was easily the most important reason for joining Phi Delta Theta, according to our Phikeia survey. We didn’t double our chapter size due to having the best rush events; we did it through simply trying to make friends. We made it a point to leave the discussion about Greek Life on the backburner until we started looking at giving them a bid. It’s at that point where we’d talk to them about what Phi Delta Theta had to offer. It’s one thing to hear a sales pitch from a stranger; it’s another to hear it from a friend. Our potentials didn’t feel like they were being “rushed” at all. Rather, they saw our house as a place where they could be among friends. After that, joining the fraternity was the next natural step. What’s great about the new Phi Delt branding initiative is that it takes all of the focus off of the recruitment distractions. We no longer have to worry about banners, t-shirts, or bid cards. Instead, we can simply focus on meeting new people.

The old sayings that “most freshmen aren’t looking into joining a fraternity” and that “people join people” were nothing new to us at Michigan Delta. We’d heard countless speakers and advisers beat these adages to death before. With Kettering being an engineering school, I guess that it only makes sense that none of us would buy into these ideas until we had data that backed them up. Hopefully the results of our survey have left you with a few things to think about as you approach this fall’s recruitment.

Good luck brothers!

Brother Boulter is currently the Chapter President of  Michigan Delta (B-Section) at Kettering University. Michael has also served as Assistant Recruitment Chairman, Works Manager, and Social Chairman. An agent of change at Michigan Delta, he has led the way in numerous Chapter efforts ranging from the creation of accountability systems to the establishment of the GM to GMI Run, a 65-mile relay that won the Kettering 2010 Philanthropy of the Year Award. Michael was also his Chapter’s representative to both ELI in 2010 and PLC in 2011.  He was selected to be a Peer Mentor at the 2011 Emerging Leaders Institute.  Outside of Phi Delta Theta, Michael is an avid marathon runner and is an Iron Phi. He holds positions as President of the Running Club and as the Recruitment Chairman of IFC. As an Electrical Engineering major at a cooperative education school, he enjoys spending 6 months out of every year gaining real-world experience and making contributions to his co-op employer.

Phi Delt and the Social Animal

By Sean Wagner, Associate Executive Vice President

While on vacation with my wife earlier this year I was 326 pages into The Social Animal  by David Brooks when a concept called Social Mobility was introduced.  I was familiar with this concept from my days in college, grad school and on the news but never considered the direct application to Phi Delta Theta.  It’s actually a fairly hot topic now as the “great divide” between the wealthy and middle class is harped on in political debates and by pundits on broadcasts.  Essentially, it’s the concept that birth should not equal destiny and that certain opportunities can be provided to balance that out.

Then about a month later, I was presented with our initial core brand concept of “Greatness” from Pocket Hercules, our branding agency and with our new tagline, “Become the greatest version of yourself.”  I realized that there was quite a bit of synergy to these two concepts but in our case, social mobility is provided very simply through a Phi Delt experience.  We aren’t talking about the difference between the impoverished and the wealthy.  Instead, we are talking about the opportunity to enhance a college experience, improving an individual’s overall potential during their college years and the ramifications for success in their adult life.

By becoming a Phi Delt, an individual is given the following:

  1. Access to like-minded individuals who strive for success through the values they commit to in their Fraternity experience
  2. A social experience that is a great “living laboratory” that promotes personal and professional development

When we say “Become the greatest version of yourself,” this is what we really mean.   We have members that come from many different “walks of life”; however, they are attracted to our chapters by meeting like-minded individuals who are bound by common values.  Then, through their fraternal experience, our members are afforded an opportunity to leverage these relationships and experiences into an enhanced trajectory for their lives and careers not offered in any other collegian organization.

This experience is why you hear all of the stats regarding fraternity and sorority members as the world’s leaders. Within Phi Delta Theta, we have had eight Pulitzer Prize Winners, three Astronauts, one VP and one President of the United States amongst many other Famous Phis!

The term “elitist” is often associated with fraternities and sororities.  The reality is that the only thing here that is elite is our values.    Phi Delta Theta was founded on friendship, sound learning and rectitude but all other Greek organizations are founded on very similar concepts of brotherhood/sisterhood, academics and service.  Those who commit to these values, commit to one another and to live by them.

The practical application is how we define ourselves when communicating the benefits of membership. Rather than talking about this vast intangible alumni network and vague opportunity to lead, you can talk about expererience between you and your brothers and how you can grow and thrive within the context of the chapter.  Describe your interaction with alumni who have been willing to offer an internship or job, with chapter brothers who have culturally enriched one another’s lives by sharing interests and about your brothers who have fully embraced their chapter leadership opportunities, leading them to other roles on campus and beyond.

We always define ourselves as a social Fraternity based on interactions with our pledge class, big brother and favorite sorority. Having said that, it may be time to start challenging ourselves and realize that being a member of a social fraternity actually defines who we are individually well beyond our college years as we aspire to become the greatest possible version of ourselves.

Sean has been a member of the Fraternity’s GHQ staff for over eight years serving as a Leadership Consultant, Director of Expansion, Director of Alumni Services, and is currently the Associate Executive Vice President. Sean graduated from Widener University (PA Mu) with a Communications Degree in 2002 and received his Masters in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management from Northern Kentucky University in 2009. A native of Philadelphia, Sean currently resides in Suburban Cincinnati with his wife Michelle where he also serves as a board member of the Inner City Tennis Project, an organization that teaches health and life lessons through the sport of tennis, is an avid Philly sports fan, and even in a work stoppage is a member of the Who Dey Nation.

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