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Why Won't Brothers Respect Me as Fraternity President?


What exactly is it that makes brothers think they can walk all over you like the proverbial door mat? What makes them think they can bat you around like the proverbial baseball? What makes them think they can completely ignore you like the proverbial . . . proverb?

Is it the shorts? You’ve already told them a million times that they shrank in the dryer, and they have a nice pleat so there’s no way you’re going to stop wearing them no matter how much leg hair is grotesquely visible at all times.

Yet, now that you think about it, even when the shorts weren’t so short your brothers disrespected and sometimes flat out disregarded your authority as their fraternity president. You find yourself asking exasperatedly, “What does a guy have to do to get taken seriously around the chapter house?”

In reality, a fraternity president may lose his authority over time for a number of reasons, some of which you might be able to blame brothers for. However, a majority of the reasons for brothers’ lack of respect are caused squarely by the fraternity president. Think of your brothers as sharks. They’re sharks you love and would die for, but when there’s a bleeding animal in the water, they can smell it.

And no, the shorts aren’t helping.

OmegaFi would thus like to answer your question once and for all: Why Won’t Brothers Respect Me as Fraternity President?

Brothers Aren’t Sure What Their Fraternity President Stands For

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When you ran for president, your fraternity election speech blew everyone away. You had a clear message, a strong voice, a democratic ear and a handful of big ideas you wanted to implement with your chapter. You won by a landslide. But now, brothers get the feeling you aren’t going to follow through on your promises.

Why? Well, you told them you were going to help implement a national philanthropy that would put all philanthropies to shame. It’s been on the backburner for months. You told them that with your rebranding ideas the chapter would have a trailblazing recruitment season, and it’s been underwhelming to say the least.

Not only that; sometimes you behave counter to the chapter values you expect them to uphold. Study hours and grades are supposed to improve, but you rarely even go to class and are out every night at the club.

They figure, why bother? I don’t know what my fraternity president stands for, and because of that I’m not sure what exactly our chapter stands for at the moment.

Luckily, you can regain their confidence by taking a step back and revisiting your ideas and values. If you begin to work toward even one of those campaign promises, with a clear message and direction, and if you make an effort to improve as a fraternity brother and a man, brothers will remember why they chose you as their leader.

Brothers Don’t Know Where the Line Is

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Tough love is what fraternity life is all about. You’re brothers, and upholding chapter values and keeping each other in check are important aspects of that brotherhood you share. The fraternity president must manage his chapter in such a way that he is neither a tyrant nor a pushover. It’s an important and difficult balance to achieve. If you’re always nice to the point of letting brothers get away with anything without consequence, they won’t respect you because you show no authority. However, if you’re unwilling to treat brothers with respect and a sense of compromise whenever possible, they won’t respect you, because you’re a jerk.

A fraternity president can earn his brothers’ respect by treating each scenario that arises within the chapter individually, giving it the proper consideration and attention to solve problems tactfully. For instance, if John misses study hours once, you should remind him of the rules and consequences that are in the chapter bylaws, and you can do this without yelling or losing your head. He may not have meant to miss study hours, and either forgot or had another important engagement. If he misses again, you can begin to implement punishments, increasing in severity with the number of offenses.

But that means you can’t let Billy off the hook for missing study hours every time, or neither John nor Billy is going to respect you. So be clear and consistent with all brothers about where the line is and what happens when they cross it.

Brothers Don’t Think Their Fraternity President Hears Them

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This is perhaps the biggest reason brothers lose respect for their fraternity president: You simply aren’t listening to them. You’ve got all your big ideas about the chapter, and you’ll be darned if you’ll run this chapter like a democracy--it’s a dictatorship! Don’t they know that?

Well, actually, being a fraternity president isn’t quite the same as being a king. For one thing, you don’t get a crown, except maybe one made of laurel if you win Greek Week.

Especially when you’re a new fraternity president, you’re a much weaker leader without the support and ideas of your brothers. This means you don’t just get to shout at people and eat grapes. You have to sit down and hear your brothers out whether they are having a problem or grievance or want to share an idea for the chapter. That doesn’t mean every idea gets your stamp of approval. (Sorry, Kevin, the “human slingshot” is not a viable recruitment tool. Shoot for the moon is a metaphor.) But it does mean if a brother thinks he can improve upon one of your ideas, or has a better idea, you should swallow your pride, close your mouth and hear him out. It’s what any respectable fraternity president would do, right?

We feel that to earn brothers’ respect as fraternity president, you need to dedicate yourself to what you stand for, draw a clear line and always listen to your brothers when they need your ear.

If you’re a fraternity president, what do you feel you can do to get brothers to respect you? If you’re not a president, what would you like to see in a respectable president? Let us know in the comments below!


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