Here we are again with the battle of the sexes. Why can’t we all just get along? Sure, we’ve come a long way over the last hundred years, what with women having more opportunities to work (although that wage gap is real), greater rights in marriage, divorce, and child-custody, and perhaps the most pressing, the ability to vote. So yes, let’s give ourselves a light pat on the back for the progress we’ve made in equalizing the genders, but let’s not forget that there still seems to be strict divisions in our social order. Although co-ed fraternities/sororities (frororities?) are beginning to come into the fore, our gender-separated Greek organizations have often shown a disinterest in collaboration and engagement in any field that isn’t partying. Admit it.
So what’s the problem with that?
The problem is that any lack of diversity or collaboration can often mean that ideas for innovation are left unspoken and not acted upon. In this sense, it’s important for the sake of progress for fraternities and sororities to interact on a level greater than simple partying or the occasional fun philanthropic event.
As a bonus, the opposite sex isn’t so bad either. *Insert creepy wink*
So for your benefit, OmegaFi is here to give you the Co-Ed Files: How to Form Lasting Partnerships between Fraternities and Sororities.
Perspective Is Key
If your fraternity’s chapter is getting ready to throw a philanthropic wet t-shirt contest (you know, for charity) it may be wise to have the ear of a sympathetic friend in a sorority to sit you down, hold your hand and give you some sage wisdom on why that may not be the best way to portray your organization. On the flip-side, if you’re in a sorority and your chapter is planning to host a seminar on the importance of female entrepreneurship, having a supportive male figure on the panel adding credence to the issues and concerns being addressed from a male perspective could have its uses. The point is to understand that although our genders may be distinct and different, they simultaneously provide a unique insight and perspective on our portrayals and actions. The importance of this rests in the fact that none of us exist within a vacuum and when searching for support for our philanthropies, events and other initiatives, more is always better. So reach out and form real relationships with the opposite sex to garner more support in your initiatives.
Speaking of reaching out…
Don’t Be Lazy; They Live Down the Street
If you live in a sorority or fraternity house, we’re willing to wager our tax returns that a fraternity or sorority lives within walking distance from you.
So go introduce yourselves. Man or woman, get up, walk over to your nearby fraternity or sorority house with your brothers or sisters and say hello. Bring a dessert like a pie, or even better, make it dinner with a pizza pie. Make it yourself or go to the store and buy it (although we recommend the latter for an added touch as long as long as you can cook), but the opportunity cost of time and money is almost inconsequential compared to the benefit of building a lasting relationship with new friends.
Sure, you may organize socials where your freshmen or new recruits may meet the freshmen or new recruits of the other organization, but that’s a glorified mixer; it’s the equivalent of a 5th grade dance. Worse still, you’ll do that with several other fraternities/sororities before the month is up, which takes all the personal touch right out of it. What you want is a direct and controlled point of contact. Once you make an initial connection, create opportunities for collaboration or relationship building.
- Create a GroupMe
- Make plans to grab breakfast/lunch/dinner on the weekend
- Go the movies
- Play a board game of Monopoly, or go play volleyball
The point is to work to establish a closer relationship with your fellow Greeks.
But here’s the most important rule here…
Only Pick a Few Organizations to Do this With
Here at OmegaFi we can’t stress this concept enough: Less is more. This is true whether it’s less work in managing your organizations finances, or less stress in corralling your members through internal communications. In building lasting partnerships with a fraternity or sorority, it’s critical to remember that this isn’t like networking where small and light touch points are favored due to high contact volume. This is relationship building and development, meaning it’s a long game.
If you’re a sorority, pick one or two fraternities and develop a relationship with them over the course of a full year. You can make these choices on whatever basis you decide: their brand is congruent with the values of your own organization, you admire their work in the community or you just think they’re fun and hot. The reasoning doesn’t matter, as long as the intent is genuine and the commitment to building over time is sound.
On the other hand if you are in a fraternity, we advise following the same advice we’ve given to sororities. However, guys, let’s keep it platonic. We get it, college and Greek life are fun for a lot of different reasons, but every relationship with the opposite sex doesn’t have to be a physical one. Look for a sorority that you have a history of getting along with and match your fraternity’s values. Fundamentally these are opportunities to make develop lasting partnerships and friendships with the opposite sex, so take advantage.
And last but not least…
Reciprocate, Reciprocate, Reciprocate
A lasting bond is a two way street. That means give and take. If a sorority shows up to your event to give their support, be respectful and show the same courtesy at their next event. Sororities, if some gentlemen from the more “scholarly” fraternity come bearing gifts, don’t just take them and close the door; return the favor. Quid pro quo.
Although men are from Mars and women are from Venus, do you think the two factions can ever be one? What are your thoughts? Let us know if you’ve found co-ed success in your chapter or school below!