8 Phrases That Should Be Banned From Your Chapter

There are ideas in fraternity and sorority life that need to be shouted from the mountaintops.  There are ideas that deserve to be studied, analyzed, explored, and shared.  And there are ideas that give us hope and inspiration.

And then there are these ideas.  

I've tried to compile a list of the most frequently recurring bad ideas that I've heard in chapter rooms all over.  I don't want to castigate those who have brought these ideas forward, because most were offered with earnestness.  But that doesn't make them any less bad.

I believe it's time we actively seek to retire these ideas, phrases, notions, etc.  We'll be a better Greek movement without them.

I would be interested to know if you have heard these in the same frequency, and if they cause you the same reaction.  And here we go...

This is a common answer to member apathy, but when implemented, makes matters worse.  Same with extensive fining systems.  My 3-year-old has a points system in his preschool.  I hope he doesn’t have that same system when he’s an 18-year-old college student.  Start modeling adult organizational behavior.  You won’t find a professional workplace with a points system.  If someone isn’t meeting their obligations, hold them accountable through restitution, restrictions, and possibly, removal.

How about you wait until his grades are good?  Unless the sign outside your house says “Academic Advising Office,” you probably shouldn’t pretend that you can make any substantial difference for his grades.  In my experience (and I'm sure there are a few exceptions), fraternity can take average and above students and make them even better.  However, we are terrible at taking poor and below average students and getting them to perform.  When I've been asked by chapters my advice for how to raise their chapter GPA, my answer always is to recruit high performing students.  If they already have that ability, then you can do what fraternities do best: teach leadership, instill values, perform service, etc.   

You really only need one.  Don’t worry, the person who lost the election will be okay.  By forcing people into co-president situations, you are not helping them.  Have you ever seen one of those movies where two prisoners are trying to escape but they are handcuffed to each other?  Yeah, that’s what you’re doing.

Should have stopped after the second chance.  Fraternity is a privilege.  Yes, young adults can make mistakes.  A couple bouts of idiocy can be explained and forgiven.  Beyond that, it’s time to acknowledge that we can still like the guy, but he shouldn’t be a member.

Yes, when "help" means not trying to solve the problem. That's what rehab is for.  Or counseling.  Or any  professional service that you do not have the expertise or capacity to perform.  As brothers and sisters, we play a key role in observing troubling behavior and identifying when to intervene.  But, intervening means walking them to a center.  Or picking up the phone.  Get them to someone who can help them. That’s what sisterhood is for.

I can translate this one for you: “Let’s build deep divisions in our chapter!”  Or, “Let’s put a big fat target on our fraternity!”  Or, “Let’s start killing off this fraternity slowly by eroding trust and motivation in our future members!”  This one is probably the longest-running bad idea in the history of fraternity and sorority life.  And the most damaging.  And it doesn't become a better idea when adjectives are involved, such as "Let's haze the pledges...a little bit" or "Let's haze the pledges...lightly."  Let's just not haze the pledges...at all. 

I bet many will disagree with my take on this one.  A sober sister program seems like a great way to prevent against drunk driving.  I think it’s a great way to reward thoughtlessness.  Fraternities and sororities should be the industry leaders in teaching responsibility.  If a group is going out to drink, they should have thought through a way to get home safely.  A sober sister program could bail out the idiots, but it also encourages them.  How about instead of a “program,” we all just agree to call someone if we need them?  

Or change it. Or don't do it at all. The Ritual - as provided to you by your inter/national organization - is not an Instagram photo that you can crop and filter.  Cut and paste is not allowed.  Your full and complete Ritual is the ONLY thing truly making you a member of your organization and truly making you a brother or sister with previous generations of members and others across the country.  Seek to perfect its delivery, not tweak it to fit your own needs or so you can get initiation over in time for Duck Dynasty.  Let's put it this way - if you change your Ritual, or simply don't do it, then I can claim to be as much a member of your organization as you are.  So can my dog. 

There you have it.  Eight ideas that keep coming up, but should be retired.  Help the fraternity movement by pushing back on these ideas if ever you hear them.  I'll give you 25 points if that will help.  Hurry up before your Co-President gets them!


  1. Also, the word "girls." Fraternities never call themselves "boys" but sororities constantly say "the girls" etc. etc., especially when referring to new members. Drives me crazy. WOMEN.

    1. Frat Boy is commonly used to describe members of fraternities.

    2. I'm a 30 year old woman, and I often refer to my friends as "the girls" we'll have a "girls night", I don't feel degraded, the woman I go out with don't feel degraded, why does it matter what we refer to ourselves as? For me it's a return to simpler times, when I was a "girl", that does bother me so much

  2. Sooooo good, as always, Shertz.
    Thank you for your wonderful pearls of wisdom, so cleverly shared.

  3. This is a very good and correct article. As a member of the Greek community at the University of Louisiana i see these phrases come and go every day with different chapters. Every Organization should hold every single member accountable and realize that ritual is what really binds each chapter together. All these ideas only can negatively effect each chapter instead of making it more productive and better.
    -Peter Tarka