Being in a fraternity may feel like a self-contained world between brothers, with member dues driving the financial lifeblood of the chapter and brothers forming the administrative and social glue of this world. Although the fact is that fraternity chapters have access to a variety of outside tools to help them succeed and thrive in their role on campus. Fraternity tools are those which aid in furthering the goals and success of either the individual brother or chapter, and by extension their fraternal organization as a whole. This translates into a variety of avenues available for fraternities to identify and utilize the tools which will best allow them to reach their goals. These tools may be offered through campus programs and initiatives, a chapter’s national organization, companies in the private sector offering tools such as software packages, professional consulting, and more.
To identify which tools are most useful to a given fraternity chapter, brothers and especially chapter officers must first identify their most pressing needs that can’t be more easily met with intra-chapter resources. For instance, if a chapter president or treasurer feels his chapter requires financial management assistance, fraternity software for financial management and consulting might be implemented to improve budgeting strategies, the ease and effectiveness of dues collection, and other financial needs. If some brothers within an organization are struggling academically, consulting with the Greek Life office on campus about tutoring or other academic assistance can lead to an improvement in those brothers’ grades. Ultimately the goal is for a fraternity chapter to integrate into the campus culture ecosystem in a way that’s mutually beneficial to both the chapter and the university. There are many tools at a fraternity’s disposal to help them achieve this goal.
It makes sense for your chapter to turn to your national organization when they can’t solve an internal issue. Whether you’re a new chapter on your campus, with a big or small chapter size, nationals should offer brothers a vision to live up to, a rigorous image to maintain and values to exude. Nationals are the standard bearer when it comes to a fraternity. Chapters aren’t autonomous beings but part of this larger collective, and going back to the source is a quick way to find the tools a fraternity needs to succeed.
There are likely advisors within the national organization who can help guide chapter officers in the right direction regarding a number of possible issues or questions that arise. Brothers also probably have access to a resource center through their national organization’s webpage. Nationals Tools offered through these outlets may include templates for guides; standardized forms for officers and members; tips on holding ceremonies, preventing hazing and upholding fraternity values; info on housing and insurance forms; guides to help expand your chapter or colony; chapter, alumni and vendor style guides; and much more. If these tools and resources on their own don’t clear up an issue, a chapter should be able to reach out and contact the national organization directly.
There are some issues which require tools beyond the chapter and national organization. Some broader problems require the use of tools offered by the university of which the chapter is a part. The most immediately useful tool to brothers is their Greek life office. Greek life offices may offer fraternity resources such as checklists and lists of campus regulations to guide a chapter toward correctly integrating into their campus environment, having to do with issues such as: administrative, academic achievement, philanthropy, chapter development, leadership and personal development, community building and campus engagement, as well as risk management.
Greek life will also guide a chapter on how to abstain from hazing (and what specifically the campus policies are regarding hazing), and academic expectations and tools for success such as: tutoring, mentoring, educational seminars and access to honor societies. Greek life can also offer statistics and information regarding the larger Greek community on campus.
There are many other campus tools to help guide brothers toward the success of their chapters. Consider for instance how intramural fields and the campus gym offer brothers avenues toward physical fitness and mental alacrity, as well as team bonding when playing sports or working out together. Mental health services on campus may offer brothers free counseling sessions when they face mental health issues such as being overstressed, depressed or facing other psychological hardships. The campus may offer brothers access to clubs relating to their interests and cultures as well as the ability to serve in student government. University Police is another vital tool in maintaining the safety of all fraternity brothers and students in general while on campus. Fraternity chapters should rely on these tools to ensure a healthy co-relationship between chapter and campus.
Business tools are omnipresent and equally important to a fraternity chapter. Consider the many business transactions a chapter relies on during a semester: textbook purchases for classes, Greek shops for paddles and jerseys, t-shirt and banner printing, sports gear purchased for intramurals, and catering and location rentals for events and ceremonies. A chapter will also likely invest in software for managing finances, membership, communication and more. In addition to a seller-buyer relationship, a chapter might engage in a partnership with a business in order to, for instance, trade advertisement for some kind of service during an event. A chapter might seek a business or non-profit with values and goals that match their own and forge a long-term philanthropic relationship. Brothers should manage budgeting for these tools effectively in order to get the most out of their business relationships and transactions.
At the end of the day, all these tools come together only when brothers work together, utilizing individual talents and maintaining chapter values and goals to achieve solutions to the hurdles they face during the semester. Chapter officers having access and knowledge of the tools available to them within the chapter, by their national organization and campus, as well as effective use of outside business transactions, is crucial to a fraternity chapter’s success.