National Officer Training Q&A: Part 2

Here is part two of our answers to our officers’ questions at National Officer Training. If you missed part one, you can read it here. 

6) How do we distinguish between the officer corps and the rest of the brothers? The brothers feel like there is a lot of division between us and them. 
This is a difficult situation to handle. However, there is a simple answer. As an officer, you have been called to much. You are called to lead your brothers over the course of the next year. You have been called to live above reproach in your own life. You will cast vision and implement policy. Amidst these objectives, you cannot allow your position to cause division between you and the brothers. The first step in assessing this is to ask yourself if there is anything the officers do in the chapter that could be misconstrued to cause division.

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Also, are you quick to explain the “how” over the “why”? What I mean by this is, do you tell them all of the quick facts about an event and leave out the purpose behind it? There is a huge difference between the two. It is easy to tell them that the members need to be at Cici’s at 7 p.m. for an integrated pledge class dinner, and it’s another to inspire them by telling them why. Don’t give them a blueprint for success. Paint a picture. If you explain to your men that they have the opportunity to pour into the lives of the current pledges and future leaders of BYX, they will be more willing to come. Also, they will view this as a privilege rather than another event they are guilted into attending.

Think about what you do as an officer during chapter meeting. It is worth discussion amongst your officer corps to consider where you sit and what you do with your time during chapter meeting. Do you sit amongst the members or in front of them? Don’t create the vibe that they are your royal subjects. This is not to say that sitting in front of the men is always bad. During certain rituals this is helpful and easily understood. However, if officers sit in front of the chapter, facing them every week, it can create a caste system. Whatever you do during chapter, talk through it as an officer corps and discuss the best way to approach the brothers.

A secondary way that an officer corps can cause division is by asking the brothers to attend functions that the officers struggle to show up for. And by showing up, I don’t mean to make an appearance. Every officer should be at BYX sanctioned event before anyone else arrives and they should be the last ones to leave. There are a few exceptions that would include intramurals if an officer has a test during that time or team events like homecoming, in which a group of men are learning a dance. Other than that, officers need to make every effort be be at every event. At times, certain officers may not have any specific responsibilities at an event but this is when you are most needed. This is your time to be amongst the brothers, engaging them in conversation and being a helping hand when needed. Don’t overlook any opportunity you have to spend time with your brothers at an event you may not have responsibilities for. 

Lastly, the most important way an officer corps can avoid causing division is understanding their role. You have the opportunity to lead your brothers and that’s just it…they are your brothers. You are not better than any of them! You have been called to lead them and in doing so, you are to clothe yourself in humility. Christ exemplified this better than anyone.

The King of the universe was born in a food bucket, bore skin and endured all of it’s encumbering affects and then walked among us as if He was one of us! In leading His disciples, He served them. When they were hungry, He was quick to feed. When they were scared, He was quick to comfort. And when their feet were dirty, He got down on His knees and washed them. Christ came to earth with all authority yet He always referenced the omnipotence of God rather than His own power. So remember, you will only actually lead your men when you begin to serve them. Walk amongst them. Grab dinner with them. Pry into their lives, relationships, school and time with the Lord. And remember, you are their brothers. Serve them and love them well.
-Nick England 

7) Do you encourage spring rush?  

It completely depends on the chapter. Some chapters have deferred rush, so they’re obviously doing spring rush. The majority of our chapters that rush freshman in the fall are still holding spring rush. Nearly all of our large chapters have stopped having two pledge classes per year and are better for it.

There comes a point where continuing spring rush becomes detrimental to the chapter. We don’t want to see our chapters outgrow themselves. It becomes hard to manage, standards diminish and the experience of BYX can become watered down. The chapters that take a semester to focus on their existing brothers are thriving because they are making the brotherhood stronger from within. By investing in those men, rather than constantly focusing on pledges, retention and involvement both improve. BYX is not the church. We don’t need everybody, and people don’t need BYX.

Smaller chapters need to prove that their big rush semester yields enough new members to keep fraternity membership at a sustainable level prior to shifting to just one rush a year. Their national advisors are there to help them decide when is the right time to make that change.
-Robert Bember 

8) How many times per day does Nick England do the little hair flip? 

More than you can count on two hands and ten toes. He got a haircut recently, and he doesn’t have hair to flip, but it still happens. He’s just so ridiculously good looking, time slows down every time he gives that signature flip.
-Chris Godfrey 

9) As a smaller chapter, how do we balance our need for open parties, rush events, and island party with members wants of formals and better retreats? 

Scheduling-wise, none of these have to be mutually exclusive at all. It is very doable to put on all of these events in a given semester. There are many components that help make up a BYX experience, and you don’t have to neglect one in order to excel in another if you have effective planning.

If time and scheduling are issues, then I would encourage further delegation of duties for events to chairs which the officers can trust in order to expand the chapters planning efforts. If budgeting is an issue, then I would suggest coming up with an effective fundraising plan for the chapter. Also, look into how you are putting on each event. Not every event has to be a big budget item. Maybe you could look into some creative and cheap open party and rush event ideas and invest more into your Island Party or formal.

There are cheap ways to put on any kind of event and still make it fun. Careful planning, budgeting and plenty of creativity should alleviate most of these concerns. Contact your national advisor or members of other BYX chapters if you need help thinking of outside the box ideas for events.
-Brian Baudoin 

10) How can I improve Legacy Dinner? What are ways that I can make it enticing? What are some things that their wives and kids can do while the alumnus is at the dinner? 

Legacy Chapter is something that chapters are still trying to wrap their minds around. Some are killing it. Others don’t place a high priority on it, which is unfortunate because we want to show our alumni that we value them.

Some chapters struggle with timing. Holding events on Friday evening when alumni from out of town can’t get out of the office until 5 is a major oversight some chapters run into. Holding it on weeknights is even worse. Consider their schedules.

Some chapters are ignorant or inconsiderate of what alumni enjoy doing. If you have an alumni Facebook group for your chapter or connections to specific alumni, use them as a sounding board. Ask what they would like to do. What is it that will make them and their buddies of the same age want to take time from their schedule to come back to campus? Find out what is enticing to those men and go from there. It may cost a little money, so allocate resources appropriately, and it will definitely take time, effort and planning.

We have to place a high priority on this within the chapter. Our current members need to get excited. One day they will be alumni deciding whether or not to come back to campus. If they graduate and feel that no one in the chapter looks forward to the event because no one did when they were members, then the event will never pick up steam. Lay a good foundation for this event in its infancy stages, and it will start to grow.

As far as family goes, there is no reason they can’t attend a dinner or tailgate if you plan it that way. If wives and girlfriends are invited, we obviously will not discuss any fraternity secrets or traditions. As a father to a son, why wouldn’t you want them to attend such an event? However, for Legacy Chapter families are not welcome. Chapter meeting is for brothers only.

Perhaps there is an invested alumnus whose wife would love to organize an event for the wives with the assistance of the chapter. Maybe even an all-star girlfriend/fiancée to a current brother would want to take on such a challenge. It could be something as simple as meeting at a local coffee shop for 2 hours during chapter meeting.
-Robert Bember 

11) What are some fun events to do for parents weekend? 
Parents are of great importance to the success of our fraternity. As a student, college seems far from home, and the relationships with your parents become a phone call home—sometimes. When you join BYX, they may get to hear about it and possibly pay for it, but they don’t know your brothers and how much the fraternity impacts you.

By incorporating some sort of a parents’ weekend or day, they get to have the opportunity to see what BYX is doing in your life and why it is important to you. By having a parents’ event, they get to see why it is so important to invest in the organization, and parents get to put faces to names that otherwise are just a blur when they hear about them on the phone. After brothers meet parents, friendships often grow even more.

There are many ways to have a parents’ event, but remember that it is a great way for parents to:

  • See the impact BYX has had on you through relationships with Christ, friends and campus.
  • Meet friends.
  • See how BYX is involved and impacts campus.

General Ideas

  • Worship and devotion time
  • Formal dinner with families
  • Fraternity awards
  • Testimonials
  • Dinner
  • Corn-hole tournament
  • Go to a university event: football, baseball, tennis, basketball, etc.
  • Cookout or Tailgate
  • Silent Auction
  • Family photo as a favor
  • Create a shirt to sell beforehand
  • Send out formal invitations to parents
  • Crawfish Boil

-Chris Godfrey 

12) What are fun videos we can create for our chapter? 

First off, making fun videos is not an excuse to make poor videos. Just because you and your men find it funny doesn’t mean everyone will. Everything you attribute the name of BYX to needs to be excellent. If you’re making something for internal use only, then you can be a little more lax in quality or lean on inside jokes.

Some of the entertaining videos I’ve seen are parodies of music videos or viral videos if they’re done tastefully. Highlight videos from cool events are awesome. If you have gifted writers, write a script to your own video. Be creative, but if you lack men with the gifts to pull off such a video, don’t do it. Stay within yourself. Be creative and challenge yourself, but don’t reach for something that isn’t there. Interviews with members about how BYX has impacted them may not be “fun,” but it is a great way to give glory to God by drawing attention to what he’s doing in the lives of men.

Remember, everything you produce says something about BYX. You’re advertising BYX whether or not that’s your goal. Send the right message.  We’re a fraternity, not a youth group. Don’t mock what we do. The problem with some parody videos is that they’re true. We can laugh at some stereotypes associated with BYX, but broadcasting those on the internet is a poor and selfish decision.
-Robert Bember 

13) BYX boxers will need to have a fly on the button! 
That’s actually a statement and not a question.

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