After over six months of some sort of quarantine, lockdown, safer-at-home orders and general state of being in a pandemic, you would think I’d be used to it by now… but I’m still not sleeping well, I’m busy but don’t feel like I’ve been productive, and I’ve still not written a book or learned a new language. And you know what? I’m ok with that.
I think some people hoped we’d be back to normal by now. Others are hoping we’ll be back to normal in the new year. And others think we’re only in the midst of a much longer journey.
We’re starting to hit those walls of feeling like “we’ve got this” or “this isn’t as bad” or “I’m fine” (insert image of dog drinking coffee with house on fire).
Colleges went back to virtual learning, so there’s some sense of normalcy. We’re all starting to get zoom fatigue (again). Our members are dreading logging in to attend chapter meeting, which is really just announcements again. But think of it this way: No one wanted to go to chapter in person last year – the only difference is now it’s virtual. Super.
I’ve heard countless people say things like “well when things get back to normal…” But what if this is the new normal?
For the last several months I’ve been virtually coaching several communities on what virtual engagement and virtual recruitment can look like. And I’ve had some communities flat out skip fall recruitment and trainings in hopes that spring will be in person. I think we need to prepare ourselves that spring will look a lot like it does right now. Some of the “normal” things we used to do are going to look different, and we need to just come to terms with it. Take Greek Week for example – it could still happen, but we won’t have the in person events. But if you think about why Greek Week exists, which is to bring a Greek community together to make the campus and surrounding community better, or to raise money/awareness for a cause, all of that can still happen. You can still advocate for community. You can still raise money or awareness. In fact – you’ve already been doing it.
Look at the various campus Dance Marathons or Relays for Life. Those events that encourage our individual members to contact family and friends to raise money for good causes. Those can still happen. Those should still happen. Y’all, the reasons those events are successful is because we’ve made them personal. We’re introduced to a cause and names and faces are put on them. Then we use our own personal networks to make the events successful. It’s the personal asks that help us raise so much money and awareness.
Now think about it from a recruitment sense – it’s.the.same.thing. People join people. So you can’t throw a party to get people interested? Your risk management and insurance policies appreciate the fact that you can’t (as do your campus and national offices). Now it’s time to get out of your own way and have better conversations with people. Maybe you’ve had class with them. Maybe you’re in another club/org with them. Maybe it’s your friend from freshman year that you’ve never actually asked to join. It’s time to make the process of recruitment, and all of our events in general, personal again. Virtual or not.
Maybe the way we’ve always done it was done that way because it was easier. So now comes the work to make ourselves and our fraternal experiences relevant again. We’ll always look back at good times and “the good old days” and reminisce and not make any actual progress. If you ask me, I’d rather remember what was good, and then focus on what’s ahead to make some progress. I’d like to create my own destiny and help our communities craft an experience that’s ready for 2021 and beyond.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we will go back to the way things were. What I do know is that in nearly 20 years of doing this work and advocating for the fraternal experience, I think this is the reset button we need in order to get rid of the things that hold us back in order for us to rise to be the people we take oaths to be.
So let’s touch base and talk about how we can create some destiny, together.