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  #1  
Old 03-28-2017, 11:49 PM
greekgal2k17 greekgal2k17 is offline
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Unhappy Chapter divided over image building

I am a member of the newer sorority on my campus We've been around for 5 years now--but we still haven't created a strong image for our chapter. We're not known for, well, anything. There's 8 different chapters at my school, and each has a fairly defined reputation. There's one for party girls, one for sporty girls, etc... and then there's us, who I've heard other students call the "recruitment leftovers"... among meaner things (I'll leave out comments about appearances, but a friend of mine told me the other week that I'm "the only hot girl" in that sorority he knows). We had to immediately go into COB after formal recruitment this last semester because we didn't get enough girls (about 15 under our goal).

The thing is, like all chapters, we cut girls during recruitment--girls who may have had more to add to our chapter than those we pass out bids to--because we lack a cohesive image statement or anything. Every girl during recruitment looks for something different, which sounds promising, but we end up with a wide range of girls with not a lot in common! Because of this, our sisterhood isn't as strong as it could be, as girls resent others who aren't what she would've been looking for. In my opinion, a lot of my sisters aren't judging hard enough during recruitment and are giving high ranks to too many people--out recruitment chair even noted the same thing. Obviously there will be variation in personality & style, but it doesn't seem like it should be to the extent we have it.

Stemming from this, our marketing for ourselves and events is also a mess. Freshmen I talked to before recruitment didn't even know we existed. We don't have a lot of cute t-shirts, and from a social standpoint, we mix consistently with the same two fraternities almost exclusively. Our fall philanthropy was poorly attended.

The girls in my chapter are all very involved actually. I'm VP of one of the political parties on campus. There are 10 of us involved in student government, and another handful in the student life organization. (This is one of the reasons I do, for all it's worth, love my chapter!). We do a decent job attending other Greek life events.

After recruitment this year, there's talk of another sorority coming onto our campus. If we can't create a reputation and get girls to join us this far down the line, it could be hard to compete with what will seem like a clean slate for some of next years girls.

I'm not in a leadership position, but many of my other friends in the sorority agree with me on these things. We have an entire marketing scheme, complete with color palates, recruitment themes & outfits, and ideas for actually cute shirts we could order. How do we go about sharing these ideas without starting drama & tension between girls who like things the way they are? And then how do we really start this transformation?
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2017, 07:29 AM
FSUZeta FSUZeta is offline
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Everything is not put up to a vote in some chapters. Sometimes members are told "this is what we are doing/planning". The recruitment VP,with the approval of the executive officers, often decides what outfits will be worn for rush. The T-shirt chair chooses designs that are approved ( or not) by EC, etc. You get my drift. Chapters hold training for rush, where they learn how to bump and how to make PNMs feel at home. It takes planning and it takes work. Has the chapter reached out to your headquarters?
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  #3  
Old 03-29-2017, 09:35 AM
panhelrose panhelrose is offline
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Totally understand!

I feel your pain! My chapter was re chartered on my school's campus a little over four years ago, and we still don't have a cohesive image. While there aren't necessarily strong "types" of sororities at my school, it's pretty clear where groups stand.

We're strongly in the middle, so we always reach quota during formal recruitment, but many girls drop throughout the year. We overcompensate for this by going over quota each year, meaning we're taking girls we might not have otherwise, which I agree leads to a weaker sisterhood. We're all very involved on campus, but a new sorority was just re-established on campus, so we can't keep riding on the "we're new" label.

I'm going to be a senior, and I've decided to recruit next year instead of acting as a recruitment counselor so that I can try to help us be more selective and focused during recruitment. Just know, you're not alone!
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  #4  
Old 03-29-2017, 10:25 AM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Maybe I'm not quite awake yet but there were parts of your post I didn't understand. Do you feel you are cutting too many girls, not cutting enough girls, or just plain cutting the wrong girls?

Do fraternities other than the two you always mix with have open parties? Go to those. Don't let anyone make you feel like you shouldn't be there. If guys get to know more than one or two of you and have nice things to say about you, that will carry weight with rushees.

Do you have a list of women (friends, fellow members in other activities) who might be interested in your sorority but don't want to go through formal rush? Are you inviting these women to just hang out and get to know sisters without it being an "event"? COBing these women is way more effective than having to grab some random girls after formal.
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  #5  
Old 03-29-2017, 10:28 AM
clemsongirl clemsongirl is offline
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It sounds like this is a good time to reach out to your advisors, regional and national HQ members to help them create an image for y'all to adhere to. I know my chapter came up with a list of adjectives that we used to focus who we were looking for in recruitment-so instead of describing every girl that came through the door as "cute" or "genuine" because they were basically all cute and genuine, we could say a PNM was "engaged", "involved", or "gracious".

As for the rankings during recruitment, my chapter had to have a serious talk with seniors who weren't using our rating system properly and giving girls all low scores or all high scores instead of being realistic. Your recruitment chair might have to have individual talks with girls who don't follow the scoring system after she presents how it ought to work to the chapter. That's a place that your recruitment advisor or equivalent title in your org can help with.

If you want to have a say in how these things are done, run for an elected position.
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  #6  
Old 03-29-2017, 02:43 PM
ASTalumna06 ASTalumna06 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greekgal2k17 View Post
Stemming from this, our marketing for ourselves and events is also a mess. Freshmen I talked to before recruitment didn't even know we existed. We don't have a lot of cute t-shirts, and from a social standpoint, we mix consistently with the same two fraternities almost exclusively. Our fall philanthropy was poorly attended.

The girls in my chapter are all very involved actually. I'm VP of one of the political parties on campus. There are 10 of us involved in student government, and another handful in the student life organization. (This is one of the reasons I do, for all it's worth, love my chapter!). We do a decent job attending other Greek life events.

After recruitment this year, there's talk of another sorority coming onto our campus. If we can't create a reputation and get girls to join us this far down the line, it could be hard to compete with what will seem like a clean slate for some of next years girls.

I'm not in a leadership position, but many of my other friends in the sorority agree with me on these things. We have an entire marketing scheme, complete with color palates, recruitment themes & outfits, and ideas for actually cute shirts we could order. How do we go about sharing these ideas without starting drama & tension between girls who like things the way they are? And then how do we really start this transformation?
Some quick suggestions based on what you've laid out above:
1) Have each sister throw in $20-40 and put in a group order for a couple lettered shirts. Pick a day during the week and have everyone wear the same one. Eat lunch together on campus.
2) Plan mixers with groups other than fraternities. Contact one of the sports teams (male or female) or other clubs/organizations and see if they're up for having an event together.
3) Sign up as a sorority for an intramural sport.
4) Do something simple and nice for others as a group. For example, during finals week, my chapter used to stand outside our cafe on campus and hand out Smarties and Dum-Dum lollipops. Get It?

Find ways to make yourself more visible which also allow you to meet and talk to a wide range of people.

I don't think that you have to present any drastic "master plan" to the chapter. Just make small suggestions and let them take off. And if you find that there are only half of your sisters on board, then work with what you have. These things don't necessarily need a chapter vote and 100% participation.

Now, as for recruitment, what exactly are you looking to change? Membership selection criteria? Are you simply looking for sisters to take it more seriously? Do you want to overhaul your recruitment parties? What are you doing now that you feel is working? What isn't working?
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  #7  
Old 03-29-2017, 03:13 PM
Kevin Kevin is offline
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If your chapter is having these deliberations regarding image/identity, I think this TED Talk should be mandatory viewing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4

This talk has been disseminated from Sigma Nu HQ to our various chapters and at least to my mind has been very helpful in getting to the "why" of our organization. This isn't something you're going to acquire with some new paraphernalia or through some workshops or activities. This is something that takes a lot of discussion, a lot of collaboration and a lot of consensus building.

Recently, the chapter I advised went through something which required us all to step back and address some of these identity issues. We created and implemented a multi-year, multi-phase plan where we made some real decisions about what sort of organization we want to be. This takes constant collaboration between actives and alums as it is HARD to implement a multi-year plan when the executive leadership expected to implement that plan change every year without a constant presence advisers can provide.

This is definitely not something you can accomplish on your own. It'll need to be a consensus between actives and alumnae, but it is worth doing.
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  #8  
Old 03-29-2017, 09:44 PM
greekgal2k17 greekgal2k17 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 33girl View Post
Maybe I'm not quite awake yet but there were parts of your post I didn't understand. Do you feel you are cutting too many girls, not cutting enough girls, or just plain cutting the wrong girls?

Do fraternities other than the two you always mix with have open parties? Go to those. Don't let anyone make you feel like you shouldn't be there. If guys get to know more than one or two of you and have nice things to say about you, that will carry weight with rushees.

Do you have a list of women (friends, fellow members in other activities) who might be interested in your sorority but don't want to go through formal rush? Are you inviting these women to just hang out and get to know sisters without it being an "event"? COBing these women is way more effective than having to grab some random girls after formal.
I feel like we're cutting the wrong girls more than anything else. And some of the girls who we should be trying to recruit drop us the first day because they realize the lack of image and incohesive-ness of our chapter after a few conversations.
Our social chair rn is a little sister at one of the two frats we mix with a lot, and she's in charge of getting us info about what parties will be happening each weekend, and she doesn't do a great job at that--there are open parties, but she doesn't get us the when & where, so we have to reach out to other girls in different chapters for this information.
I was actually recruited via fall COB a year and a half ago, so I definitely agree that its more effective, but I will say it felt like the chapter was really desperate for girls then and that hasn't changed. Getting my friends and other like-minded members to come up with a list of girls we think would fit would be a great idea, instead of what we're doing now!
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  #9  
Old 03-29-2017, 10:37 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Uggg, if you can possibly have an assistant social chair get one. Someone who's a little sister is not going to see a problem mixing with her brothers all the time.

Alternately -I don't know how
large your campus is, but just leave her out of the equation and find out about parties yourselves. Our social chair was only responsible for mixers, she had nothing to do with individual sisters just going out to parties. As a matter of fact, that probably shouldn't be a "duty" of her office - it could be a possible risk management/liability issue.

No matter how successful a chapter is - you should ALWAYS have a list of women on hand who might be interested in joining. Scrambling after formal rush (or after a bunch of girls drop out, or total increases, or whatever) is a recipe for disaster.
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  #10  
Old 03-30-2017, 07:55 AM
ASTalumna06 ASTalumna06 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 33girl View Post
No matter how successful a chapter is - you should ALWAYS have a list of women on hand who might be interested in joining. Scrambling after formal rush (or after a bunch of girls drop out, or total increases, or whatever) is a recipe for disaster.
This! At a meeting, give every sister a piece of paper and five minutes and have them write down the name of every non-Greek woman that they know, regardless of whether or not you want them to join or think that they want to or not. Even if a sister doesn't know a girl's name (e.g. the girl who sits behind me in Econ and borrows a pencil every other day), write down a description.. and encourage that sister to get the girl's name! Then combine them all and create a master list. Add contact information if you have it. Every time someone meets a new woman on campus, their name should be added.

Talk with the Recruitment Chair and work with them to implement this. It's a great place to start. From there, you need to encourage your members to talk to these people. Have two sisters invite one of the girls on the list to coffee or lunch. But don't have them wear letters or recruit for the sorority. Just make a friend.

Remember: people don't join organizations; people join people.
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  #11  
Old 03-30-2017, 09:44 AM
MaggieXi MaggieXi is offline
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I went through a similar situation back in the stone age. My chapter was only 4 years old when I joined. It was seen as "the non-sorority sorority", "the diverse sorority", "the girls who don't care about their image sorority", etc. compared to the standard labels, which is what you heard as freshmen. My pledge class was the first to be over quota and the older girls didn't quite know what to do with us because we pushed back. They only wanted to mix with 2 fraternities - which had the chapter hotly divided, and they wanted to keep the "non-sorority sorority" label. My pledge class did not and later we found out that some upper classmen felt the same. There were a lot of growing pains, some of the seniors and juniors rejected us because we went against what they wanted, but as they graduated, things became more cohesive and easier. The closed mindset changed - we extended invitations during recruitment to girls that previously would have been cut because there was an assumption that they would want to go with a different chapter, we mixed with every fraternity, we had philanthropy events with fraternities and sororities, we made ourselves more open. By the time I was a senior, the chapter was flourishing, the "label" had changed to the "fun easy going girls".

It sounds like what you are going through are growing pains. We were lucky because during our growing pains we had an incredible ELC who got us additional support from our National Organization. You don't need a marketing campaign, as a group, you need to change the way you are thinking about your chapter. Open yourselves up and things will change.
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  #12  
Old 04-01-2017, 02:46 PM
Tom Earp Tom Earp is offline
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Great advice by above poster!!!

IHQ is a wonderful place to get some great advice from. After all, that is why your Chapter is paying dues for.

If you do not work out a plan, then sad to say it may fail and that is the bottom line isn't it? Fail or stay and grow!

When I started my local back in 1965, there were 6 National Fraternities on campus and one sponsered by a National. We were just the new kids on the block that all wished would just go away and none of the Sororities even recognized us.
But the one thing we had was grit and the never say die attitude. Needless we won as still there and one of the biggest and best on campus, we had our ups and downs.

But azs I said, get it figured out or end up being gone!!! Old adage, plan your work and work your plan! Wow, so you had a bigger Pledge Class than Members, Damn, that would/should/ and could be the best thing ever!!!

You all seem to look at everything on the negative side and not the positive side! So, get with the friggen program, DAH!
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  #13  
Old 04-01-2017, 03:33 PM
TweedleDee199 TweedleDee199 is offline
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My chapter went through this phase while I was a collegiate, although we were an older chapter. We didn't feel like "the awkward chapter" but that was definitely how we were seen. There was one chapter activity that helped facilitate a productive discussion about a collective vision. Everyone was asked to write down their own personal rankings of all the sororities on campus, including our own. Sure enough, there was quite a bit of variety in how we all saw things. Discussing why people put chapters in a particular spot helped us hone in on concrete things we could emulate. Things like social functions were a little more controversial, but a major takeaway was that almost all of us admired the really involved chapters and saw value in boosting our philanthropy attendance. We couldn't go from "the leftovers" to a high recruiting chapter overnight, but with enough buy in we could become "the chapter that always shows up" almost instantly. We started tossing extra money in our philanthropy budget, registering extra teams and inviting coaches over to chapter dinner the following week. Our community service chair started reaching out to fraternities we didn't usually mix with to plan service events and making sure our members always showed up to those events in force. Slowly, people started to know us as the chapter we were then, and not the chapter we were ten years before.
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