Managing a fraternity is the process by which a chapter goes from being a purely social group to being a legitimately professional organization on a college campus. A fraternity is a group of young undergraduate men who come together to achieve social, philanthropic and academic goals while striving to become better men and leaders in their university communities.
One might ask, What is the difference between a fraternity chapter and a group of friends who get together to play a game of pool, watch a sporting event and grill food together? How is a fraternity different from friends who volunteer for a local blood drive to support a good cause or who get together to study and improve their academic success?
Once examined, it becomes clear that the difference is fraternity management.
But what exactly is fraternity management?
A fraternity chapter manages its activities throughout each semester, guided by a set of principles and regulations enacted by a hierarchy of officers who help oversee finances, chapter operations and chapter house living, among other chapter activities. These officers also manage with the help of national advisors and university officials, while fostering alumni relations to the best of their abilities.
But fraternity management isn’t a monolithic structure imposed on the brothers of a chapter. It’s more akin to a well-oiled machine with many moving parts, each as important as the rest to keeping the chapter going. If one part stops working, the machine breaks. It’s as simple as that. It’s also (frustratingly) as complicated as that.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the cogs turning each and every day to keep your chapter’s operations at peak performance levels.
There is perhaps a false notion among some that a fraternity president sits at the top of the fraternity management pyramid. While the president certainly acts as the face and voice of a fraternity chapter on his campus, and must oversee many of the chapter’s activities as an elected leader, he also understands that he is being strictly regulated by those above him.
These are usually advisors from his chapter’s national organization, as well as university officials, acting together to enforce standards, encourage certain guidelines and advise the chapter in many aspects of fraternity management when necessary.
For example, a fraternity president has leeway in certain decisions with the chapter, enforcing chapter bylaws and so forth, but he cannot exceed his authority on matters that pertain to the image or legality of the national organization or campus. He cannot, for instance, bypass anti-hazing regulations, take actions which tarnish the fraternity’s letters, disregard guidelines related to chapter finances or otherwise overstep his bounds within the rules set out for him and his brothers. A fraternity president, rather than being an outright ruler of his chapter, acts instead more as an emissary of his fraternity’s national organization and university. He manages a fraternity from the middle, disseminating the values of his fraternity from above down to the brothers of his chapter.
Rather than acting alone as an executive of his chapter, the fraternity president serves as part of a structure of leadership that compliments each element of fraternity management, including the vice president and treasurer, among other officers and related committees.
The president oversees the chapter in general, ensures bills are paid and forms are filled and acts as the general spokesperson. He must guide his brothers as a role model and encourage his chapter to grow and prosper in the Greek community. He must lead rituals and chapter meetings, be a disciplinarian when necessary and keep a constant finger on the pulse of the chapter’s progress. He must inform and consult the university and nationals about the chapter’s progress or lack thereof. He has the final say on many chapter matters.
A vice president may be seen as a more complimentary, hands-on role to carry out the president’s vision (and that of the chapter and fraternity overall). A vice president might also have a role of micro-managing his fraternity in certain areas, while not having that role in other areas. Some of the vice president’s jobs might include: leading executive council meetings and the standards committee, having a hands-on role in overseeing all committee chairmen (without being overbearing), helping with officer transitions, being a positive influence on brothers, checking chapter reports and even taking on the president’s responsibilities when he is unable to do so.
A treasurer can be seen as the financial leader of his chapter and plays this specific role in guiding the chapter toward healthy fraternity management. While the treasurer is not usually considered an equal executive to the president and vice president roles, he leads the chapter in setting and managing the budget for each semester or year, as well as collecting membership dues and handling other financial matters. He sometimes does this with the help of financial management software, such as OmegaFi’s Vault.
Other, non-executive officers and committee members of course play an important role in fraternity management. Each must plan and carry out the activities of his chair as effectively as possible, all while adhering to and enhancing the leadership of executive officers and the higher authorities mentioned above. Each must understand his role per the guidelines laid out for him and execute that role professionally and to the best of his ability.
However, it’s also important that all brothers take part in the management of their fraternity. This means that each brother must act with, not against, the will of the chapter and fraternity at large. Each must pay his membership dues on time, attend study hours, follow the rules and house regulations and by doing so enhance the chapter’s success. In other words, fraternity management means the entire fraternity must manage.
By maintaining this structure of fraternity management from national leadership and university officiating bodies, executive officers, other officers, committee members and all brothers in general, a fraternity chapter ensures its success as a professional campus organization that truly represents its letters.
If you’d like to know more about how OmegaFi can help with your fraternity’s financial management, come check us out.