Guest essay by Spenser Tang-Smith, Chief Operations Officer, WebGreek, Inc.
Go to any fraternity or sorority website and poke around for a bit. I promise that there will be an obvious link to “famous alumni” or something like that. You’ll no doubt find a list of actors, athletes, business tycoons and politicians who were initiated so many years ago, listed as evidence of an organization’s awesomeness.
I want to question the wisdom behind this tacit assertion. Any group of people has winners and losers, gods and clods, or whatever you want to call the left and right ends of the bell curve. Yes, presidents and senators and athletes belonged to some fraternity or another, but if a group is to be judged by its extremes, you’ll have to take the bad with the good. I doubt an organization would trumpet its more nefarious graduates.
If the purpose behind this practice is to add a few cherries on the brother/sisterhood cake, then that’s pretty cool. Besides the good times, the service, and the lifelong friendships, members can add “hey, So-and-so is also an brother/sister.” But an organization cannot simply mention a few big names and say “’nuff said,” because those big names are the outliers. What will the organization do for me?
Joining a fraternity or sorority won’t get you to the NBA Finals or the White House; both feats require a whole lot of work. I think that the marketing focus during recruitment, and also when making the case for the Greek movement, should be on demonstrating the ways in which your typical high achiever will be nurtured and supported by the organization so that they will be the best that they can be. Don’t just rely on a few recognizable names of people who graduated long ago. Make the connection between membership and enhanced success obvious, even to those who aren’t natural born leaders or freakish athletes.
Spenser Tang-Smith is the head writer for WebGreek's blog. WebGreek is a complete online management solution for fraternities and sororities, and is giving away free trial networks for the summer.