By Michael Boulter – Kettering University
I’ve always felt that Phi Delta Theta isn’t your typical fraternity and, as a result, attracts the kind of guy who is looking for something more in his college experience. It wasn’t until recently that my chapter, Michigan Delta, was able to produce hard evidence to back up this belief.
After a very successful fall recruitment that produced our chapter’s largest Phikeia class in nearly 20 years, our recruitment committee saw a valuable opportunity to evaluate what potential new members are looking for in a fraternity. We created a survey that covered all the bases, with questions ranging from their first thoughts about Greek Life to the factors that mattered most in deciding to accept their bid to Phi Delta Theta. Additional questions, such as when and where they met their first Phi Delt, were intended to help us to further evaluate our campus presence and our recruitment strategies. After finalizing our question set, we had the Phikieas answer the survey at their first meeting of the term.
The results of our survey couldn’t have been clearer.
Out of our 14 Phikeias, only one of them was interested in Greek Life when he first came to Kettering University. All of the others either hadn’t considered joining a fraternity or were leery of them, based on their preconceptions. The results were, once again, extremely clear when we asked those who hadn’t initially considered Greek Life what changed their mind. The most common response was “the people”, while “the opportunities provided by a fraternity” also got a few mentions.
Later in the survey, we listed a variety of factors and asked the Phikeias to rate (on a 1 to 5 scale) how large of a role each one played in their fraternity decision. The runaway favorite was “People and Friendships”, which nearly received a 5’s across the board. “Morals of the House”, “Dry House”, and “Academics” were the other factors that received an average rating above a 4.0. All other likely reasons for joining a fraternity (“Athletics”, “Affordable Housing”, “Chapter Size”, etc) averaged out in the middle ground and had quite a bit of variability, depending on who you were asking.
I feel that the results of this survey do an excellent job of highlighting a few areas that deserve everyone’s attention during this fall’s recruitment. The main thing that we need to keep in mind is that the overwhelming majority of our future brothers aren’t looking into joining a fraternity. It’s something that they won’t actively pursue, which means that we have to go about recruiting them in a slightly different manner. Rather than hoping that potentials come into our chapter house to meet us, we need to get out of our house and go meet them. It’s no coincidence that our brothers who were the most active on campus were listed the most frequently as the first Phi Delt that our Phikeias had met. The greater the presence that your chapter has on campus, the higher the odds that you’ll meet a potential new member, make friends with him, introduce him to a few of your brothers, extend to him a bid, and have him decide that he wants to join your chapter. There’s a reason why chapters that are highly involved on campus always do well during recruitment.
The other thing main point of our survey was that people join people. Friendship was easily the most important reason for joining Phi Delta Theta, according to our Phikeia survey. We didn’t double our chapter size due to having the best rush events; we did it through simply trying to make friends. We made it a point to leave the discussion about Greek Life on the backburner until we started looking at giving them a bid. It’s at that point where we’d talk to them about what Phi Delta Theta had to offer. It’s one thing to hear a sales pitch from a stranger; it’s another to hear it from a friend. Our potentials didn’t feel like they were being “rushed” at all. Rather, they saw our house as a place where they could be among friends. After that, joining the fraternity was the next natural step. What’s great about the new Phi Delt branding initiative is that it takes all of the focus off of the recruitment distractions. We no longer have to worry about banners, t-shirts, or bid cards. Instead, we can simply focus on meeting new people.
The old sayings that “most freshmen aren’t looking into joining a fraternity” and that “people join people” were nothing new to us at Michigan Delta. We’d heard countless speakers and advisers beat these adages to death before. With Kettering being an engineering school, I guess that it only makes sense that none of us would buy into these ideas until we had data that backed them up. Hopefully the results of our survey have left you with a few things to think about as you approach this fall’s recruitment.
Good luck brothers!
Brother Boulter is currently the Chapter President of Michigan Delta (B-Section) at Kettering University. Michael has also served as Assistant Recruitment Chairman, Works Manager, and Social Chairman. An agent of change at Michigan Delta, he has led the way in numerous Chapter efforts ranging from the creation of accountability systems to the establishment of the GM to GMI Run, a 65-mile relay that won the Kettering 2010 Philanthropy of the Year Award. Michael was also his Chapter’s representative to both ELI in 2010 and PLC in 2011. He was selected to be a Peer Mentor at the 2011 Emerging Leaders Institute. Outside of Phi Delta Theta, Michael is an avid marathon runner and is an Iron Phi. He holds positions as President of the Running Club and as the Recruitment Chairman of IFC. As an Electrical Engineering major at a cooperative education school, he enjoys spending 6 months out of every year gaining real-world experience and making contributions to his co-op employer.