Let’s make a deal.
Woe is the chapter leadership of any North American fraternity or sorority. And we do mean any.
College can be a beautiful experience, complete with rapid and vital personal development, heightened social skills, as well as imparted lessons in time management and organization. And that’s not even mentioning an incredible education. At a college or university, these baseline benefits are only heightened when coupled with the general Greek experience. Greek life takes the typical college experience and pumps it full of bovine growth hormone. As a pillar of the campus community your grades should be better, your student involvement more extensive, and your social activities frankly, more fun—on paper, at least.
However, this heightened college experience typically comes with a cost, and in most cases that cost is given directly to its central leadership. The running expenses of managing such an organization of your campus’ best and brightest should seem a paltry affair. This is an easily done task because as we’ve mentioned before, these are your campus’s rising stars, the leaders of tomorrow. Right?
Even U.S. Presidents were pretty rowdy and rebellious in their college years and unfortunately your chapter is no different. You will experience issues of missed dues payments, difficulties managing leasing information for your fellow brothers and sisters living in the house, conflicts with conduct, dress code, and general behavior. Even the writing of that list just gave us a small ulcer.
So how do you deal with it?
Good question. Lucky for you, we’ve got a good answer: chapter contracts. Did you ever see someone collect all their receipts and hoard them in a shoebox like a pack rat? You may look at them with pity, but that level of scrutiny is key here: They keep order in their lives through organization and scrutiny. When dealing with brothers and sisters and attempting to bring them all up to speed on how your organization runs, you’re going to need to do more than remind them at chapter meetings on a PowerPoint slide. You’re going to have to enforce a contract.
For your benefit, we here at OmegaFi will play the role of the stodgy lawyer giving you clear, concise, and matter-of-fact info on why these contracts are important, and how they can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches moving forward: It’s Time for a Chapter Contract: How to Keep Your Members Accountable.
Why Does My Chapter Need a Contract?
A better question might be: Why does anyone need any contract? The answer will be the same: to outline expectations and enforce accountability. Every semester your professors will do the same thing and give you a contract that you must read and sign to remain within the class. That contract is the syllabus. When trying to instill a sense of order within your chapter (for those who live in a Greek house or otherwise), it’s wise to set the expectations upfront and early, and the best way to do this strategically is to have each of your incoming members review the contract and sign it upon admittance to your organization. But more on that later.
What Should Be in It?
So, what should be in a chapter contract? The short answer is everything you can think of. In a chapter contract you want to make it as specific as possible with your expectations on all things: conduct, leasing agreements, dues schedules, etc. The point is to designate a given expectation, a procedure for executing it, and consequences for noncompliance. This may sound a little harsh or overly structured, but believe us when we say that structure and organization are your friend when trying to maintain chapter leadership.
To start, you’ll want to include a:
- General Agreement Contract — Essentially, this is just an agreement that you’ve read the documented materials, other contracts, and will comply with them. In effect, it is giving your consent to be held accountable to the standards set forth by your chapter.
- Constitutional Contract – Similar to the general agreement contract, this would be a consenting agreement that you’ve not only read the constitution but will submit to being held accountable by its disciplinary provisions.
- Code of Conduct — This will include provisions on how you want your members to act and dress given specific scenarios. For example: “Never go to an SGA event wearing casual clothes or not wearing a piece of Greek paraphernalia.”
- Leasing Agreement — This will almost exclusively apply to brothers or sisters living within the Greek house, but it’s vital information. This contract will essentially outline a brother or sister’s payment schedule, the amount, what they will be receiving (room and board, etc.), and the expectations of them (don’t mess up the house, keep your room clean). This is key, but be sure also to include provisions on how to handle non-payment, even if that means that you’re giving prior warning that being sent to collections may be a consequence of rent default.
- Dues Contract and Schedule — This is another vital document to include within this contract packet, and if you’ve read any of our other work it’s arguably the most To put this frankly, you need your members to pay their dues, both in full and on time. But sometimes things come up and brothers can’t pay, are having trouble paying the full amount, or just refuse to do so. In this predicament, a contract is your best friend. Include a general dues schedule, the amount, full and partial payment provisions, solutions for issues of financial hardship and ultimately default.
You want to give yourself all the tools needed to enforce your vision of the chapter in both its social progress and financial stability.
How Do I Enforce It?
You can issue these papers amidst the other onboarding and registration papers, but it is critical to implement this general code as early as possible.
For brothers and sisters who are no longer neophytes, a wise distribution procedure may be the start of a new semester at your monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly chapter meeting. For this, we’d advise handing out paper copies to every member and allot time to review the document on an overhead PowerPoint. This is sounding remarkably like your teachers’ syllabi, isn’t it?
Good. Your teachers are smart.
If you believe contracts aren’t just for lawyers, and, you know, can actually be useful in real life, let us know in the comments below!