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How Not to Be Stumped on Sorority Elections

Sorority elections are a mainstay of chapters across North America. They’re the means by which a sorority chapter maintains its structure as a student-led democratic organization. Sorority elections are, at their core, a means of self-empowerment but also of empowering the chapter as a whole through sisters supporting sisters. Participating in a successful sorority election will set the tone for the entire chapter for the semester or year, and will have impacts well beyond that time.

If elections are done correctly, the best sister for each position will be chosen by her peers and the chapter will thrive. Changing leadership also benefits the chapter by giving its members a chance to experience new ideas and allowing sisters access to broader representation.

If, however, a sorority chapter holds a poorly run election, the results will be a mismanaged executive board and presidency, a treasury with an out-of-control budget, a lukewarm recruitment class and many smaller but equally detrimental consequences. Thus, sisters should prepare for and perform sorority elections with the greatest of care and respect for the process, in order to ensure the brightest future possible for their chapter.

Sororities hold elections semesterly or annually to place sisters into various officer positions such as president, vice president, treasurer, recruitment chair, social chair, philanthropy and more. The elected officers who make up the executive board strive to achieve overall chapter management goals.

The process seems simple. Sisters give speeches outlining why they’re the best for the officer positions for which they’re running. Their fellow chapter members vote. The chapter installs new officers based on the results of voting. Those officers then adhere to the regulations and tasks of their position. Everything is a success. However, it’s surprisingly easy to get some small detail of the process wrong, and the negative impact of such a mistake can be staggering.

Some sisters may feel overwhelmed by the process and its importance to the chapter. Thus, OmegaFi would like to explore How Not to Be Stumped on Sorority Elections.

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Before a Sorority Election

Preparing for a sorority election is as crucial as the election itself.  To avoid common pitfalls during the process, sisters should set up a specific sorority election plan. Sisters must understand the specific chapter guidelines for elections and draw out a strict campaign schedule.

One way to keep a sorority election on a reasonable timetable is to schedule candidate speeches for a different date ahead of the actual voting process--but not too far in advance, so that sisters end up forgetting what each candidate had to say about the office she’s seeking.

Chapter bylaws are the crucial backbone of preparing for sorority elections. Each current officer should understand her role during the election. Whether guiding the process as a president or vice president, or recording minutes and results as a scribe, sisters running for various positions should fully understand what those positions entail. They should discuss in their candidate speeches how they will fulfill their duties and improve upon their roles. They should be able to cite specific details pertaining to their duties, so sisters can make informed decisions with their votes.

When time limits are set for speeches, voting and other aspects of the sorority election process, a chapter should stick to them. They may consider scheduling breaks if elections are going to run long. This will ensure sisters don’t become too fatigued and can give each candidate the attention she deserves. They should finalize any other election plans in writing and do their best to follow them to the letter.

During a Sorority Election

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Once sisters have a strict plan in place, a sorority election should run much more smoothly. Conversely, mismanaged elections often go awry.

Just because a sorority president tells candidates that their speeches should be x amount of minutes long doesn’t mean candidates aren’t going to (accidentally or intentionally) go over their time. The process needs to be strict to keep this kind of mistake from spiraling out of control. Executive officers must keep candidates on topic and keep debates positive, rather than watching them devolve into bashing fellow candidates.

Chapters should observe proper etiquette during elections. The should establish guidelines such as no cell phones, no chewing gum and a dress code. You might suggest for instance that chapter letters or a semi-formal outfit must be worn, especially by candidates. Always feed sisters before an election. Crinkling snack bags and crunching are annoying distractions from election proceedings.

Ballots must be managed carefully and the correct counts double-checked. Sorority chapters may opt to use physical ballots, though sorority election software can help streamline the voting process.

After a Sorority Election

When a sorority election is over, new officers should be congratulated and sisters dispersed. However, voting is not the true end of the election process. Next comes the officer transition period.

Officer transitions are as crucial as the sorority election itself, if not more so. It may seem paradoxical, but officer transitions actually begin in advance of elections, when current officers make preparations to help the new officers ease into their posts. For instance, the sorority treasurer will want to have all budgetary matters finalized, she’ll want records kept and filed so that they’re accessible to the incoming treasurer, and she’ll want to prepare to help the new treasurer during the initial period as a new officer.

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A new officer should shadow the current officer several months prior to taking over the role. She’ll want to understand her duties inside and out. She’ll eventually begin to discharge her duties herself, with the guidance of chapter executive officers and her predecessor. She should always feel free to ask questions of those more experienced. Though she should be fairly independent in her role at this point, former officers should check in with her periodically to see how she’s doing.

With strong preparations and planning, a well-managed voting process and officer transition period, a chapter is more than likely to have a successful sorority election. OmegaFi is dedicated to keeping your chapter’s budget managed smoothly and efficiently during your transition from the old guard to the new. Get in touch with OmegaFi if you’d like to know more about how we can help.