Sample Situations and Responses
The chapter you advise is unmotivated and unorganized. Apathy is obvious at during periods of membership recruitment and the chapter is having a hard time recruiting new members. The Prytanis is looking to you for guidance. You have decided to talk to the entire chapter at this week's chapter meeting.
The following is an example of an unproductive Chapter Advisor response:
"If I had not seen it, I would have never believed it. Only 40% of you guys showed up for the event. And there wasn't even a quorum at the last meeting. And you haven't even started the New Member Education program. I hate to tell you this, but you are an embarrassment to the Fraternity. If you don't get off the stick, this chapter is going to fall down around you. You had better come up with something to save your butts."
Now here is a more productive Chapter Advisor response:
"This chapter has always been known as one of the best on campus. We have got to work to keep it that way. So, let's set some goals that will help us to remain one of the best fraternities."
It has come to your attention that the chapter has a little sister program even though that is clearly against Fraternity policy. No one in the chapter will come forward "officially," so you need to confront the officers and, later, the entire chapter.
This is how not to deal with that problem:
"Listen guys. I know it is pretty unrealistic to expect you not to have a little sister program when everyone else on campus does. But, it is a rule."
There are all sorts of problems with that kind of response. Fist, and foremost, you must always represent the International Constitution and Bylaws of Tau Kappa Epsilon as fair and just. Second, even though you should be a friend of the chapter, you cannot establish a "them" versus "us" situation by referring to TKE policy as unrealistic. Third, and this is a crucial point, you must never disregard the potential legal problems in a situation.
Let's take a look at a more appropriate way to address that issue:
"I know you have heard it before, but let me read you the Fraternity's policy on little sister groups. Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity does not recognize or approve the existence of little sister groups, Order of Diana, or similar chapter programs or organizations. Nor do they approve chapter affiliation with similar organizations. No organization, unless authorized in writing by the Grand Council, shall use the words, letters, logos or symbols of Tau Kappa Epsilon or otherwise represent affiliation with the Fraternity."
One of your goals should be to generate enough respect among the Fraters so that you can reprimand them, when necessary, without alienating them. You will have to express yourself forcefully and feel confident doing so. But, you have to know when it is necessary to reprimand them and when it is not. If you come down on the Fraters all of the time, they are going to ignore you all of the time. And, you can't afford to be ignored when you are dealing with situations that involve legal liability.
The main thing to remember regarding legal liability is that as long as you and your chapter obey Fraternity, Province, State and Local laws, you will be covered by the Tau Kappa Epsilon insurance policies. But, if the Risk Management Guidelines are not followed, the chapter may longer be protected. If you, as Chapter Advisor, knew beforehand that a violation was about to occur, you may not be covered either. Now you know why it is so important for you to be sure your chapter is following the Risk Management Guidelines. You cannot allow a few people to jeopardize the entire Fraternity.
You can't possibly be there to see everything that goes on at the chapter, but you should be keenly aware of your chapter's plans. Work with the individuals to make sure they understand the dangers involved, especially with events that involve alcohol or when hazing could be involved. These are two of the most emotional and critical issues among Fraternities today.
Some of the members have made comments about Hell Week, Scavenger Hunts, and the like. You think there may be some sort of hazing happening behind "closed doors." No one is willing to come forward, nor should you be asking them to. You need to reaffirm the Fraternity's position on hazing. A typical response from the chapter might be: "Come on. We have always had hazing." "Yea, other fraternities have hell week."
Here is the wrong way to react to a statement like that:
"Ok. Ok. You all have to do what you have to do. Just don't let me hear about it."
And here is the right way:
"If that is the way you feel about it, then you have to understand that you are putting the whole chapter in jeopardy, as well as yourselves, and the International Fraternity. It is that kind of attitude that land people in court. So, if you have to have Hell Week, then you no longer have the privilege of membership in this Fraternity."
You should not be afraid to talk to your chapter like this. Some situations cry out for confrontation, especially those where lawsuits are waiting to happen.
One of the Fraters has come to you. He said that an open party with alcohol is being planned by four of the chapter's more rambunctious fraters.
This is how you should not approach the problem:
Upon finding the names of the Fraters planning the party, you go to one of their rooms to confront them. "Hey guys, listen. Joe tells me that you are planning an open party and there are going to be kegs present. I don't have time to talk now because I am late for a meeting, but all I can say is that you had better not do it. See ya!"
First of all, you never want to betray a Frater's confidence. Telling the guys that Joe says you are planning a party is going to make them upset with Joe. Don't divide the chapter into factions. You have to be very careful to preserve the Fraters' trust in you. Second, you must always take the time to explain why the chapter can't do something. If you don't have time to talk now, set up a meeting when you do. Using vague threat like "all I can say is that you had better not do it" is ineffective. Use facts, not threats.
Here is an appropriate way to respond to the situation:
"I have come to you guys because you are leaders in this chapter and the other Fraters tend to follow your example. I know there is talk about an open party with alcohol. I have to remind you of the legal consequences of doing something like that. If you have a party and let anyone come, and believe me everyone and their brother will come, you lose all ability to control that event. And yet you are going to remain responsible for whatever happens to any one of those people.
Your insurance will not cover you because you are breaking University, Fraternity and possibly even State/Province laws. So, if someone decides to sue because their underage child drank beer here, got dunk, got hurt, you are going to pay out of your own pockets."
A typical response would be:
"But we will lose popularity if we don't have open parties."
Your response should be along the following lines:
"There are a lot of other ways to become popular without having open parties."
"Well, what do you suggest we should do to keep visibility on campus?"
"I suggest we get really involved in campus intramural athletics, chapter scholarship, and other campus activities. Lets have social events for Fraters and their guests that revolve around something other than alcohol. Let's challenge our social committee to come up with a list of functions that this chapter could sponsor without alcohol."
Finally, when all else fails, remind them one last time of the seriousness of their actions. Of course, you won't always have to deal with such difficult situations, but it is important to know what to do should they arise. You don't have to handle them alone. You can always turn to the Offices of the Grand Chapter for advice and support.