By Amanda East, Gamma Eta ’12, Region Consultant
As chapter size varies greatly among the Fraternity’s 120 plus active collegiate chapters, the sizes of Initiate classes vary as well. Chapter development and growth can change how a chapter functions effectively, especially when it comes to Recruitment and Initiation. It is important as your chapter grows to consider the impact that taking on a larger Initiate class will have on your Brothers and Initiate Program.
When developing your Initiation process it is important to consider the number of Brothers as well as prospective new members that will be involved in this process. Also think about if the number of events your chapter has are sufficient for your Brothers to have the opportunity to get to know prospective new members. It is also important to consider how large of a class your chapter can accept. While it is great to have over 50 prospective new members express interest, it is necessary to evaluate how many you can extend a bid. You want to provide your Initiate class with the best Initiate experience and not overburden your Initiate Adviser(s) and Big Brothers.
Many Chapters have worked to create a system ideal for working with a large Initiate class; one of those is the Gamma Omicron Chapter at Auburn University. Gamma Omicron stresses the importance of developing meaningful relationships throughout their Initiation Process.
The two aspects Gamma Omicron stresses with their development of personal connections and relationships are Initiate/Brother Interactions and Initiate class bonding.
Initiate/Brother Interaction: Gamma Omicron makes it a goal for the Brothers and Initiates to get to know one another throughout the process. This is crucial with a large Initiate class as it is easy for them to get lost with so many people. Gamma Omicron invites Initiates to their events as well as Chapter meetings and participates in learning activities with the Initiates, such as teaching them our fraternal songs together. The Chapter also puts a large emphasis on the importance of relationships with the Initiate’s Big Brothers both during and after the Initiate Program.
Initiate Class Bonding: Gamma Omicron also finds it important to have each of their Initiates know one another on a personal level. This starts with team builders and activities in Initiate Meetings and helps the Initiates have the skills to work together on their Initiate Events. It may seem very simple, however a great place to start with a large Initiate class is with learning each other’s names. Many chapters have seen that Brothers that are closer with their Initiate class have a better retention rate as Brothers and are more involved in the chapter.
It is important to remain open to change and adjustment in your Initiation Program and your chapter. Re-evaluate your Initiation Program as your chapter grows and increases Initiate class sizes. There may be a better way to accomplish certain things!
If you have questions about how to improve your Initiation Program, please contact your Region Consultant for assistance.