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Things that Make Me Pull out My Hair for 500, Alex: Managing a Chapter House


Managing a chapter house can be a harrowing experience. You let a few things go, cave in to a demand or two, and suddenly you’re living in a trash-strewn, busted up chapter house, like the negative stereotype portrayed in the film Animal House.

Truth be told, there’s a lot that goes into managing a chapter house that goes well beyond the nuts and bolts of it. Don’t get us wrong, the guidelines set up to keep a chapter house well managed and not totally terrible for the sisters or brothers living there cover how to handle almost every scenario.

The rub is in that word, almost.

Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and of course in cornhole.

But when it comes to managing a chapter house, brothers and sisters will push the limits of your sanity and of reality itself, and the rules can only tackle so much. Achieving balance and consistency can be impossible if not handled correctly from the start. It can feel a bit like being on that old trivia game show your dad watches, Jeopardy! You know, the one where contestants have to respond in the form of a question?

That’s why we here at OmegaFi want to help you get your game face on when it comes to Managing a Chapter House, before you end up on the big stage saying Things that Make Me Pull out My Hair for 500, Alex.

What Is, Establish the Rules and Apply Them Evenly and Fairly?

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Alex Trebek might say, “This ancient method has kept fraternity and sorority houses running smoothly for many years.” Although any brother or sister can tell you that managing chapter house living is a fluid experience, it’s also true that you need a clearly defined box of house rules before you can step outside the box.

House payments need to be made on time, all house rules need to be followed to the letter, study hours need to be adhered to and brothers or sisters living in the house need to be respectful of one another. Period.

Think of house rules as foundational truths. You build from them. And as foundations go, these rules need to be solid and consistent. If a chapter member breaks a rule, there’s a punishment that fits the crime, clearly set out in the rules ahead of time. When members follow the rules, all is bliss in the chapter house.

What Is, Always Place Safety above All Else?

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If you’re getting the theme of our game here, you might think of the clue for this one being somewhere along the lines of, “This, when adhered to, saves lives and allows the chapter to thrive. When it’s ignored, bad things happen.”

In other words, it’s not really a game. It’s one of the most crucial things you can do to look out for your sisters or brothers.

What we’re getting at here is how hazing and other unsafe practices can greatly impact a chapter and its members, good or bad. Your university and fraternity or sorority likely already have anti-hazing rules in place, yet hazing does still happen on campuses across America. You might say, “This isn’t us. We don’t haze.” And that’s great. But you should still be ever-vigilant about the negative impacts of hazing, which can lead to serious trauma or even death of those involved.

Another threat to brothers and sisters’ safety is alcohol and drugs. Avoid at all costs being the organization that is known for drinking or doing drugs, which can lead to all kids of legal trouble and addiction and physical harm caused by bad decisions under the influence.

Also make sure safety regulations related to the house, the university and your national organization are followed. This means regular safety inspections for fire alarms and sprinklers, and other safety features of the house. It also means managing things like occupancy limits and rules on furniture, landscaping or any other structural safety rules. It means maintaining insurance, yet practicing the kind of risk management that ensures you never have to make a claim.

Most of all, it just means using your head. Deal with repeat offenders strictly, and follow any applicable laws and university regulations. An unsafe chapter house can never be managed. An unsafe chapter house will never thrive.

What Is, Show Your Brothers and Sisters Tough Love?

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Alright, Alex, let’s hear it: “This human condition is the only way we can all get along in this world, together.” Well said, Alex. Well said.

Rules won’t apply to every single situation that crops up, and when a member of your chapter has a problem it may not be solvable by cracking open the rule book and pointing to a subsection. You know each other well enough to know where each is coming from. So when a sister is struggling with living in the chapter house, or a brother is feeling disrespected by his roommate, even though the roommate isn’t breaking a specific rule, you manage the situation with your heart.

We call this love, but we also call it tough love. That means you’re fair and compassionate in each situation, but you also guide your fellow chapter members to a solution even if that solution isn’t easy, and everyone involved has to compromise. Compromise is the key to managing a chapter house with your heart: Instead of one person getting what she or he wants and another feeling slighted and misunderstood, each has to try to meet the other half way.

If Managing a Chapter House were a game show, we figure this is about what it would look like. The answers aren’t immediately obvious, and often they look more like questions. But it’s all part of the challenge of being bold and reaping the rewards.

Does managing a chapter house have you pulling out your hair? Buzz in and tell us about it in the comments below.


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