Friday, March 17, 2006

Fraternities Are Outdated

There is a stigma attached to fraternities due to the bad press regarding hazing, drinking, etc. Even my wife had a negative view of fraternities, until she met me.

This post is why fraternities are not outdated. I can personally attest that the leadership and management training my fraternity provided was invaluable to my business career. Chuck Miller can verify this as well. He is the former CEO of Avery-Denison, who took the company from $30 million in revenue to $5 billion.

My chapter shut down a few years ago due to some unfortunate incidents, but it’s coming back. Delta Upsilon International is helping a group of undergrads to resurrect the chapter. Last night I participated on a conference call with the International consultant, Chuck, and the undergrads. Chuck spoke for about 20 minutes and was truly inspirational. I’m hoping to meet him in person some day, as I hope to accomplish a similar amount of success.

Fraternities are similar to businesses
Below are a few examples

1. Hiring/Rushing – “Selection” is critical to the success of an organization. You need to find the right people for your chapter. My personal opinion is that you need individuals, because there are plenty of followers out there. Too many of these people can lead to group-think and if you get a leader who makes poor decisions- there goes the chapter. I’d rather have the experience of building consensus of varied opinions than blind following.

2. Budgeting – Without a budget both are in deep trouble. There are financial obligations for a fraternity just like a business. Both need insurance, facilities, supplies, etc. Imagine the experience you get from managing a chapter budget- you’ll have plenty of real life examples when you’re interviewing for a job.

3. Revenues – Without revenue (namely cash flow) a business is quickly out of business. A fraternity needs to collect dues and rent for their house. Businesses have to earn the revenue from their customers- fraternities have to do the same. Is your chapter resonating with students enough so that they want to join and stay on?

4. Public Relations – Look at the trouble Walmart is in and you’ll see similar issues with some fraternity chapters. People can quickly demonize a business or a fraternity. A chapter needs to stay ever vigilant to ensure that the surrounding community and the school see the positive contributions.

My intention is not for everyone to walk away thinking that a fraternity experience is the only way to go in college. It doesn’t fit for everyone and I’m sure plenty of clubs offer similar experiences along the four points above. For myself, I’ve got lifelong brothers I can count on in any situation and a solid management and leadership foundation.

1 comments:

Jay W said...

Rob - I have to hand it to you. Like your wife, I was not a big fan of fraternities, but you have put together a compelling post to the contrary.