Chapter Consultants Chime In: What is excellence?
Second-year consultants answer three questions describing what makes a chapter of excellence.
What is a consistent component of chapters of excellence?
Zach Pasker (University of Iowa, 2014): Excellent chapters have an excellent Ritual. The initiation ceremony communicates our values to our members, and chapters who know the values have a guiding light for everything they do.
Andrew Schreiner (University of Iowa, 2014): What I find consistently throughout excellent chapters is they don’t worry what other fraternities on campus are doing. They simply do what they do because it is the right thing to do and they aren’t happy with where they currently stand. Members of excellent chapters strive to make themselves better in every aspect, not just for the individual but for his brothers next to him and those who will come after him.
Josh Clayton (Appalachian State University, 2014): I believe the most successful chapters in the nation have been able to create a culture that values collaboration and accountability. For collaboration, if the culture of the chapter encourages brothers to participate on committees then those men suddenly have a say in the chapter’s events, meaning they feel invested in the outcome — improving attendance and maximizing the potential of each philanthropy, community service, social or campus event. Chapters that value accountability aren’t afraid to use the honor board as a means of making sure each member is pulling his weight, while also seeing that same judicial system as a way to recognize and bestow honor upon those men in the house who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
What can a chapter do to make the transition from good to great?
ZP: One incredibly tangible way to take your chapter from good to great is to recruit better men. Values-based recruitment results in values-based men who can continue to bring the chapter toward excellence. Use membership eligibility standards based on the five obligations of a Delt to help bid discussions and ensure your new members are set up to be good members of the Fraternity. Overall the goal should be that when you come back to the alumni event in 10 years and talk to the active members in your chapter, the quality has carried over year-to-year.
AS: If a chapter wanted to make the move from good to great they need to emphasize the Ritual to the highest degree. When a chapter is truly performing the Ritual to the best of its ability, it bleeds into the day-to-day operations and becomes real. It is no longer a performance but a lifestyle.
JC: I think chapters that struggle to take the step from good to great could often times increase their participation on a national level. Gaining the most out of division conferences, Karnea, Ignite, the Charge or any of the other experiences the Central Office offers requires looking around at what other groups are doing successfully. What is normal on one campus could be groundbreaking on another, and exposure to new ideas is crucial in plotting your chapter’s journey to excellence.
How can a chapter use the new FAR to promote excellence?
ZP: The FAR is more than just words on paper or requirements to be a chapter. It contains the basic operations that make excellent chapters. If you strive to meet the recommendations of the 1000-level of the FAR, the chapter will reach new heights and the members of the chapter will reach new heights too.
AS: I like to see the FAR as building blocks for a chapter. By following it, the chapter can take itself to new heights, but it should be understood the 1000-level is not perfection. I see the 1000-level as what we expect of Delts and it is a solid foundation to run effectively and efficiently as a chapter. Where the chapter goes from there is completely up to the members, and I hope they find ways to push the bar so we, as a national organization, must raise the standards in order to keep up.
JC: The new FAR is a fantastic tool for chapters. Because of its lay-out, the steps for excellence in each section can be a valuable way to plan the future of any group. I encourage all of the chapters I work with to print out the rubric and take some time as an executive board to “grade themselves” and see where they have the most room for improvement. After they have identified those areas they can make the biggest strides in, it’s time to make a plan to continue moving in the right direction.