Membership development is a hot topic in the world of fraternity/sorority life. People are starting to ask questions about how we continue to grow our members as they move their time in their chapter and eventually move on to being alumni. Now more than ever national directors, college administrators, and members alike are asking what can be done to sustain members throughout their undergraduate tenure in their organization. My question is how do we utilize senior brothers.
Senior year of college has been one of the most stressful years in my matriculation. I am in the most advanced classes offered in my chosen discipline, my involvement continues to be high, and I am tasked with the gargantuan task of figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s a lot too handle and it has made me reevaluate what is most important to me.
The area where I have the most control over my circumstances is my participation in clubs/organizations. In a time where I am making important decisions that will determine the course of my life for the next few year, the endeavors that used to occupy my days seem trivial and almost frivolous. And something that has been such a big part of my college experience, namely fraternity life, has become part of that list.
I’ve heard it and seen it before. Senioritis sets in and seniors stop caring about pretty much everything, but this is not that. My love for my chapter is unwavering but for the first time in my membership I feel absolutely useless. I feel like I serve no purpose. I am no longer an executive. I am not essential. I am a member without a cause.
Senior members are some of the most underutilized participants across the board. From others in the organization and they themselves, the notion of “this doesn’t matter … I’m graduating” runs rampant. This excuse of graduating from both us and those who fail to use us is wholly detrimental. Until we walk across the stage on commencement day we can be useful, so use us.
But in that same way don’t use us and throw us away. We deserve better than that. We’ve given our all in our membership and somewhere, deep on down there, we still want to. Recognize us and make us feel seen, heard, and valued.
We’re not motivated to do anything or to contribute productively. Recruitment for example – what’s the point? We’ll spend less than a semester with these new members before departing, the possibility of lowered dues won’t take effect until after we’ve graduated, and our interactions with underclass-peoples are pointedly limited. Of course the answer to that question is rhetorical – it’s what we signed up for, what we promised when we joined, and part of what it means to be a member. However, those brash and brazen heartstring-pulling sentiments have lost their resonance. We’re cynical, tired, and beyond rousing motivational speeches, scare tactics, and incentives. So how can we be helped?
It’s on us AND on you to make our last semester worthwhile.
- You’re not too old or too good to participate in events, programs, or meetings
- Give the proper respect to your executives and fellow members – no one needs to earn from you, it’s mandatory
- Embrace change – yearning for how things “used to be done” can be derailing; bring insight but refrain from stifling new ideas and opinions
- PARTICIPATE – bring your whole self, show up on time, and stay to clean up; prove yourself
- Stop blaming the future for why you aren’t living in the present – you have more time to offer than you let on
We’re a tricky bunch. We know we can still do amazing things but it doesn’t seem like anyone needs us to do so. Need us, ask for help from us, and let us teach you what we’ve learned. Make us matter! If you let us fall by the wayside that is how we will depart and that’s no way to leave a relationship that’s supposed to last a lifetime.
- Give us things to do and things we actually care about – you should know us best so keep us involved by assigning tasks that we have always loved doing
- Avoid belittling us – menial tasks are a no-go; we want purpose
- Hold us accountable – if we’re flaky, disinterested, or bring a bad attitude; call us out and remind us how much we used contribute positively
- Know our constituency – we’re not new members, nor are we your average member – treat us as we are (members who are unfortunately moving on)
- Show your appreciation for us – thank you’s and expressions of gratitude go a long way; we will not be here forever – be good to us while you can
I love my chapter – that will always remain true but if you really think I am invaluable treat me as such before it’s too late. If you want me to come back, to donate my time or money, and to stay in touch this is the most important to make me feel wanted, needed, and appreciated. We’re your senior brothers but we’ll be alumni soon.
How do you keep your senior members engaged?