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-   -   Struggling Chapter (http://www.greekchat.com/gcforums/showthread.php?t=235279)

Momoffour 09-21-2017 08:35 AM

Struggling Chapter
 
My daughter went through rush and pledged the chapter where she felt most comfortable. She is very happy with her new sisters and is looking forward to becoming a member. When going through rush, she knew that her chapter wasn't considered the popular group on campus, but that didn't matter to her because she really loved the girls that she had met. What I'm concerned about is the chapter appears to be seriously struggling. We knew that they had missed quota, but found out that it was by a significant amount. (They got about 60% of quota.) Of course they are trying to add to that with COB. She has made friends with some of the girls in her pledge class and really likes them. She was surprised that one is a senior. She asked her big sister why they had pledged a senior, because she thought that was something unusual, and was told that they couldn't afford to be picky. (Four have already dropped out of her pledge class.) I told her that it worries me because I would hate for her to be initiated, then have her chapter close. I told her that once she's an actual member, she'd be able to contribute to the membership selection process. I have two questions regarding all of this. The first, how is it decided when a chapter needs to close on a campus? I know that each organization is different, but was wondering if there are guidelines. My second question has to do with advisors. I am a member of another organization and was very active in our panhellenic and membership selection process. I would be more than happy to help them with recruitment preparation and give them some advice on how to carry conversations, open ended questions, etc. However, I would never want to step on the toes of any of their current advisors or go against any of their policies. I would never expect to be a part of their membership selection process. Do organizations allow people from outside to help them prepare for recruitment? From what my daughter has told me, many of the girls going through recruitment felt like conversations were forced and awkward. I think that with some guidance, these things can begin to change next year. I'm just hoping that there will be a next year.

FSUZeta 09-21-2017 09:00 AM

It is very hard on all concerned when a chapter struggles. Some fresh ideas might give them the boost they need. How to go about offering your assistance will be somewhat a sticky wicket. I will give you an example.

There is a chapter on my campus that has struggled for decades ( not exaggerating), yet the things that were said about them back in my day are still being said today. It appears that they continue to put band aids on deficits rather than have major surgery, i.e.they continue to react, rather than be proactive. Whether someone from outside the org has approached them offering assistance or not I could not say. The interesting thing is they have an award winning chapter near enough to be a resource for them, but it doesn't appear to have ever been utilized. I guess my point is approach the chapter advisors, after consulting your daughter, with caution.

Your daughter does have some power in membership selection, even as a new member. She can invite stellar girls over to the house for lunch or dinner, or to COB events. Girls she really likes from her dorm who might not have participated in formal recruitment, or girls who,did participate but did not pledge.

QueenD 09-21-2017 09:06 AM

Momoffour,

Your concern for the welfare of your daughters chapter is admirable. I have a few thoughts.

1) numbers aren't the only indicator of chapter health. I've been involved with a chapter which missed quota significantly in a lot of years in the past, particularly before RFM. And you know what? They were still winning campus events, had high grades, hugely involved student leaders, and raised a ton of money. The lack of success in recruitment had more to do with the fact that the chapter was simply more skilled and comfortable at COB. It's definitely difficult to be a smaller house, but what you describe is not a kiss of death.

2) NPC sororities tend to invest a LOT of effort in remediation before closing chapters, especially housed chapters, unless there are huge risk management issues (think cops and hospitals or campus judiciary involved). I won't say it's impossible for a house to be closed soon, but i a, guessing your daughter would have a clue because girls would be buzzing about it with worry CONSTANTLY if it were truly on the table. Chapters are almost never surprised by closure.

3) it's not the end of the world if a person gets initiated and their chapter closes while they are in school. It Certainly sucks, but it's not like those women aren't still sisters and can't do stuff together. They just aren't a recognized student organization anymore so n that campus. They can be involved in whatever alumnae stuff they like.

4) some chapters will take advisory help from non-members. Many have moms or parents clubs that do things for the girls. If your daughters chapter has that, it may be the best path to showing support. I have employed outside help at times when I was an adviser. It was fairly limited, but including things like having non-sister experts give presentations on relevant topics like a specific philanthropy or conversation and body language skills. Also, please understand that most organizations will not allow an active adviser that has a close family member or family friend active in the chapter, regardless of whether they are an alumna.

5) please remember that this is not your problem. It's your daughters chapters problem. All you can do at the end of the day is be supportive of your daughter and suggest things she and her sisters might try. I would let your daughter raise any suggestions about your involvement with the chapter. If she were to tell the fish chair ON HER OWN WITHOUT YOUR PRODDING "Hey, my mom trains beta beta beta chapters onrecruitment skills. Would you like her to come give a workshop to the gamma gammas?" And they accept then great. But don't push it, because it's not your circus and again - people doing much advising for a chapter while their family member is in the chapter is not appropriate.

Momoffour 09-21-2017 12:33 PM

Thanks for the tips. Queen D, I see where you are coming from. Being that I've never had an daughter in a sorority until now, I'd never thought about conflicts of interest. I can absolutely see why it wouldn't be a good idea for an advisor to be related to an active. Thankfully she hasn't heard anything about the chapter closing, or any talk about that. I think what concerned her was that an owner of a local business, told her that at one time the Greek System was much larger and that they had lost two sororities within the past several years. FSUZeta, it's funny that you mentioned the struggling chapter at your school and them not utilizing resources. I don't know the particulars of this organization, but I do know that they have an award winning chapter a few hours away from this chapter. I may suggest to her that they utilize their resources if she asks for advice. I know that it isn't my problem, but I hate to see any chapter struggle. There was a group that struggled when I was an active, and we always were afraid that they were going to close. I had friends in that chapter and knew that they were really great girls. They just weren't that good at recruitment. Over time, their advisors got involved and they were able to pull their numbers up. I'm hoping that the same thing will happen with my daughter's chapter.

MysticCat 09-21-2017 02:32 PM

If I can lane swerve, I'd suggest you try not to say anything like this again:
Quote:

Originally Posted by Momoffour (Post 2442509)
I told her that it worries me because I would hate for her to be initiated, then have her chapter close.

It sounds like your daughter sees the challenges, but she chose this chapter and they chose her. She's happy with these girls, so I imagine that she wants the challenges she sees to be dealt with successfully. My experience in situations like this is that expressing your own worry risks passing that worry along to your child. And it can mean she's not only dealing with her own worries and the chapter's challenges, but she now may feel some responsibility for allaying your worries.

What I mean is this: By all means, acknowledge the challenges she sees and you see. If you have constructive suggestions to make, make them to her, and let her know you're ready to support the chapter in any appropriate way that the chapter would like. (Though definitely follow the advice of others and let her drive the train.) Listen and respond to what worries her. But don't add to what she's adjusting to and growing into by telling her what worries you about the situation.

Just my $0.02.

/laneswerve

33girl 09-21-2017 04:14 PM

The plain fact of the matter is that nothing is for certain. She could have joined a chapter that has taken quota and made total for the past 50 years, and something internal could happen to tear the chapter apart, your daughter gets caught in the crossfire, and she self terminates. Life does not contain certainties (except of course death and taxes).

She really loved the girls she met. That's all you need to know. You can encourage her on her own to do things that will help her chapter's reputation and visibility: always look nice when wearing letters, be friendly and sociable to other members of ALL groups in the Greek system, get involved in extracurricular activities. But now is not the time for her (or you) to tell the chapter to do that. Sometimes the best leading is silently leading by example.

carnation 09-21-2017 04:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 33girl (Post 2442555)
She could have joined a chapter that has taken quota and made total for the past 50 years, and something internal could happen to tear the chapter apart

Some people don't think this happens! I know of it happening several times and the membership went down by at least half.

ASTalumna06 09-21-2017 05:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Momoffour (Post 2442509)
My daughter went through rush and pledged the chapter where she felt most comfortable. She is very happy with her new sisters and is looking forward to becoming a member. When going through rush, she knew that her chapter wasn't considered the popular group on campus, but that didn't matter to her because she really loved the girls that she had met. What I'm concerned about is the chapter appears to be seriously struggling. We knew that they had missed quota, but found out that it was by a significant amount. (They got about 60% of quota.) Of course they are trying to add to that with COB. She has made friends with some of the girls in her pledge class and really likes them. She was surprised that one is a senior. She asked her big sister why they had pledged a senior, because she thought that was something unusual, and was told that they couldn't afford to be picky. (Four have already dropped out of her pledge class.) I told her that it worries me because I would hate for her to be initiated, then have her chapter close. I told her that once she's an actual member, she'd be able to contribute to the membership selection process. I have two questions regarding all of this. The first, how is it decided when a chapter needs to close on a campus? I know that each organization is different, but was wondering if there are guidelines. My second question has to do with advisors. I am a member of another organization and was very active in our panhellenic and membership selection process. I would be more than happy to help them with recruitment preparation and give them some advice on how to carry conversations, open ended questions, etc. However, I would never want to step on the toes of any of their current advisors or go against any of their policies. I would never expect to be a part of their membership selection process. Do organizations allow people from outside to help them prepare for recruitment? From what my daughter has told me, many of the girls going through recruitment felt like conversations were forced and awkward. I think that with some guidance, these things can begin to change next year. I'm just hoping that there will be a next year.

You JUST posted this thread a week and a half ago, and you came off like you were struggling with your daughter's decision more than she was.

http://www.greekchat.com/gcforums/sh...d.php?t=234745

It still seems that way.

Please take all of this advice that you were given:

Quote:

Originally Posted by QueenD (Post 2442515)
5) please remember that this is not your problem. It's your daughters chapters problem. All you can do at the end of the day is be supportive of your daughter and suggest things she and her sisters might try. I would let your daughter raise any suggestions about your involvement with the chapter. If she were to tell the fish chair ON HER OWN WITHOUT YOUR PRODDING "Hey, my mom trains beta beta beta chapters onrecruitment skills. Would you like her to come give a workshop to the gamma gammas?" And they accept then great. But don't push it, because it's not your circus and again - people doing much advising for a chapter while their family member is in the chapter is not appropriate.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MysticCat (Post 2442539)
.....My experience in situations like this is that expressing your own worry risks passing that worry along to your child. And it can mean she's not only dealing with her own worries and the chapter's challenges, but she now may feel some responsibility for allaying your worries.
.....
Listen and respond to what worries her. But don't add to what she's adjusting to and growing into by telling her what worries you about the situation.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 33girl (Post 2442555)
She really loved the girls she met. That's all you need to know. You can encourage her on her own to do things that will help her chapter's reputation and visibility: always look nice when wearing letters, be friendly and sociable to other members of ALL groups in the Greek system, get involved in extracurricular activities. But now is not the time for her (or you) to tell the chapter to do that. Sometimes the best leading is silently leading by example.

Every sorority has different policies on closing chapters due to numbers, and in every situation, it depends on the circumstances; the type of school, the Greek environment, alumnae support, outlook for the future, etc. A year before I joined my chapter, they were down to four members. When I was active, we never reached more than 20 sisters. But I was on a campus with three NPC sororities, all chapters only did COB at the time, and Greek life wasn't as popular. Again, every situation is different.

But do you know what my mom did while I was in school, holding three or more positions with the sorority at once, and working my tail off during recruitment? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because she knew that it was my choice, I was happy, and I enjoyed the struggle. If I had turned to her for help, she would have helped. But it wasn't her battle.

And today, my chapter is thriving, and it makes me happy to know that I had some part in that. I enjoyed being in a smaller chapter where I had more of an impact, and I was very close with all of my sisters. But everyone is different. Some people want to go to a giant state school, and others like smaller class sizes at a lesser-known private university. Some people want to hold leadership positions, while others want to join committees. Some people thrive in an environment where they're asked to do a lot, and some just want to do a minimal amount and enjoy the more social aspects of being a member of an organization. Everyone has their own path, and your daughter has chosen hers.

So let her struggle. And let her be happy. And help her only when you're asked.

DGTess 09-22-2017 12:59 PM

You don't even know for sure they are struggling. You suspect they may be. Please let them work at this.

Your daughter is a new member, and it's mid-September. She does not know the problems or the inner workings of the chapter, and you even less. Please let her figure things out.

Alumna2 09-22-2017 01:56 PM

The Panhellenic responses to Momoffour’s concerns have been amazing.

Momoffour, if your daughter's university is geographically near you, you have the opportunity do something I wish I could have done for my daughter 8 states away. You can do "goodie bags" for all in the new member class. Perhaps they could be distributed at a regular NM meeting that is before a calendar event - midterms, a tabling week, home football game, fund raiser or a NM project. The bags could reflect sorority colors, school colors, a healthy snack, microwave popcorn, if you are lucky a trinket of the sorority mascot is findable. Add a note of congratulations and encouragement for the selected calendar event (you can get sorority graphics from websites). A folded note, individualized with each name can be hole punched on the outside of a goodie bag and tied with curly ribbon. I do not think we outgrow these “thinking of yous”.

I don’t think of surprise cupcakes or seasonal treats as just missing home room or the birthday parties I gave my daughter; it is a great way to show kudos and encouragement because I am positive about my daughter's decisions and friendships.

A question I would ask the new member advisor is, "may I have a way to contact the NM moms?" "Is there a way to know if other new members are from my area so I may contact their mothers about a mothers club?" The distance was great in my case but there was one girl in her NM class from our city and my daughter put me in touch with the other mom.

bevinpiphi 09-22-2017 04:18 PM

Remind your daughter that, even if her chapter happens to close, membership in her greek organization is not just four years, it's for life.

QueenD 09-22-2017 04:43 PM

A question I would ask the new member advisor is, "may I have a way to contact the NM moms?" "Is there a way to know if other new members are from my area so I may contact their mothers about a mothers club?" The distance was great in my case but there was one girl in her NM class from our city and my daughter put me in touch with the other mom.[/QUOTE]

I appreciate what you are trying to do here, but the job of the New Member Adviser, or any other adviser, is to guide the *chapter officers*, not to interact with member parents. Outside of housing contracts that are co-signed by parents, major risk management / health of member issues, or an event such as homecoming or parents day, most chapter advisers will not interact much (if any) with parents. I had to adhere to some pretty strict guidelines about parent interaction when I served as a chapter adviser, in the name of protecting member privacy and also to protect the collegian's ability to own their chapter experience.

Now, if there is an existing parent's club, or if the chapter wants to provide such a forum for parents, that's a great way to accomplish something similar.

TXDG 09-22-2017 05:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alumna2 (Post 2442654)
The Panhellenic responses to Momoffour’s concerns have been amazing.

Momoffour, if your daughter's university is geographically near you, you have the opportunity do something I wish I could have done for my daughter 8 states away. You can do "goodie bags" for all in the new member class. Perhaps they could be distributed at a regular NM meeting that is before a calendar event - midterms, a tabling week, home football game, fund raiser or a NM project. The bags could reflect sorority colors, school colors, a healthy snack, microwave popcorn, if you are lucky a trinket of the sorority mascot is findable. Add a note of congratulations and encouragement for the selected calendar event (you can get sorority graphics from websites). A folded note, individualized with each name can be hole punched on the outside of a goodie bag and tied with curly ribbon. I do not think we outgrow these “thinking of yous”.

I don’t think of surprise cupcakes or seasonal treats as just missing home room or the birthday parties I gave my daughter; it is a great way to show kudos and encouragement because I am positive about my daughter's decisions and friendships.

A question I would ask the new member advisor is, "may I have a way to contact the NM moms?" "Is there a way to know if other new members are from my area so I may contact their mothers about a mothers club?" The distance was great in my case but there was one girl in her NM class from our city and my daughter put me in touch with the other mom.


Heartfelt suggestions, but I know in the alumnae groups I've been amember of in two different cities, the things you are suggesting are taken care of by the local alumnae chapters. My collegiate chapter has a parents group but their role is very specific: 1) to raise money for things the chapter needs and 2) to provide one dinner during recruitment week and snacks during the summer recruitment workshop. Anything beyond that really starts to step on the toes of the chapter officers whose role is to offer programming and activities for the chapter. Parents should be mindful that these are collegian-led chapters....

TXDG 09-22-2017 05:51 PM

Momoffour, I mean this gently and sincerely: you already had the experience of choosing your sorority and navigating your own collegiate and alumnae sorority experience.

Please allow your daughter the freedom to do the same. She selected this chapter and is thrilled to be a member. Her recruitment was just what we all dream of - a pnm who actually followed her heart instead of being swayed by campus gossip or family pressure. She may not have taken the path you wished for but it's not your role to "fix" the chapter. It's your role to love and support your daughter, and by support I mean be a sounding board should she come to you for advice. It's clear to me through your posts that you're disappointed with her choice and fearful for her sorority experience...I'm just a stranger on the internet so I can't imagine that your daughter hasn't picked up on the same vibes from you.

33girl 09-23-2017 03:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TXDG (Post 2442685)
Her recruitment was just what we all dream of - a pnm who actually followed her heart instead of being swayed by campus gossip or family pressure.

AMEN!!

How would you feel if she had pledged the "popular" chapter and was calling you in tears because she was so uncomfortable with the sisters, or feeling left out, or pressured into social situations? Would that really be worth being able to crow to your friends that she joined a "prestigious" sorority?

Not too long before he died, my dad said to me "I don't care if you ever get married or have kids, as long as you are happy." I still remember where we were standing when he said it because I never thought those words would come out of his mouth. (His side of the family is very traditional, farm and family oriented, my cousins are popping out kids every other minute) It is one of the most loving things he ever did for me, to explicitly free me from that expectation.

ETA: QueenD - what is a "fish chair"? I assume it does not have to do with actual fish. :)


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