Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Member Education Ideas from Greek Advisers

Ideas for New Members ...

What is the learning outcome that the new member educator would like to accomplish? Is it for all new members to know all actives or for all members to know each other? Know each other how well?

An outcome might be: "At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to recall the first and last name, hometown and major of every participant."

The following ideas have been taken from several e-mails that have come from AFA members regarding new members and how they get to know the brothers in a chapter:

If the initiative is to try and avoid hazing, and the chapter desires its members to know basic information about one another, then that expectation shouldn't rest solely on new members. It should be an expectation for all members and all members should participate annually.

There are several rather traditional icebreakers that could be utilized to address the desired outcome. Name games like "Uncle Fred's Suitcase" have been very effective for me in having students remember names. Other activities such as "Wanted Posters" or "Coat of Arms" would allow the sharing of more in-depth information. Heck, why not consider creating "trading cards" for each member of the chapter featuring desired information? A quick run-through of Dale Carnegie "Memory-Stacking" techniques could also help members to not only retain this information, but class-related information as well. What a great way to link NME and academics!

I would caution that if the type of information expected to be memorized has no real value or purpose (shoe size, favorite beverage, first name of their significant other), then perhaps the activity isn't truly relevant to making members better members.

One thing we did at my undergraduate chapter was create a sort of gameshow activity, kind of like the newlywed game/jeopardy style and we paired up new members with inititaited members and tried to answer questions about one another. You could also set it up to have the pairs answer jeopardy style questions about any member of the chapter. While they may not know the asnwers at the beginning of the game, the initiated members can help them and the game will teach them more about each other.

Another idea is the break the chapter and new members up into 'teams' based on something they have in common and have them complete teambuilding tasks or a ropes course or do an ice breaker in which the group has to find out what they all have in common.

Possibly depending on the size of the chapter/new member class, you could have a few brothers come to each NM meeting and talk about themselves, why they joined the fraternity etc. And then at each general meeting, new members could tell the chapter about themselves.

A final idea is possibly having some sort of member/NM bio made for each member that he could include any info about him he wants peopl to knw, pics, etc. In the residence halls, we would print up 11x14 papers with a place for a pic and fill in the blank questions for each resident to fill out about him/herself. They included things like: my favorite food is....., in 10 years I see myself....., the person I most look up to is......, my favorite memory....., etc You could tailor it to the fraternity with questions about Big/Little brothers, reason they joined the chapter, positions they held (for initiated members), activities they do on campus, etc. You could also include values questions or questions that are a little more deep than their favorite color to have the guys all open up. The members could post them on their room doors and the NMs and any brothers who dont live in the house (or all members) could post them in a common area, such as the dining room.

I think it is most important to stress that the initiated members have just as much of a responsibility to learn about the new members as the new members need to learn about them....

What about an event that would be similar to speed dating! Each candidate could have a station and the brothers would rotate through. Perhaps 5 minutes at each station. If the chapter to candidate ratio is too large, the event could take place over several nights. The idea should to make the event fun. Maybe even have a host in a 70's style tux. Anyone remember "The Dating Game"?

As a second event what about an activity competing little/big pairs against the other pairs similar to "The Newly Wed Game"? The questions being asked could be very funny and entertaining for the entire chapter, who would make-up the studio audience. Possibly could be done in conjunction with a sorority involving their new members for a fun, non-alcoholic social event! ....

We did bio booklets of both members and new members. In addition, our students sometimes will have dinners or designated get togethers between various classes - one night would be for sophomores and new members, then juniors and new members, then seniors. Its more of a relaxed way for them to spend time together getting to know one another in a smaller group....

1. Have all new members meet with current members in their major. The purpose would be to discuss faculty members and provide insights to the challenges facing them. begins to build a knowledge community.

2. Have new members meet the chapter families. By working in Big Brother/LittleBrother combinations you can build cross class identity as well as build familiarity within the chapter leadership structure.

3. Have the new members come over to the house on the weekends and join in a house clean-up. Everybody working together is a great wayto get to know someone. If not a house clean-up than a community service project. Either way it is quality time spent where there is no distinction between new member and current member

The key to all these exercises is to have a new member debrief of what they learned and what they see as opportunities to serve. By creating a knowledge community you can begin to dismantle the emphasis on class structure and really begin to energize the chapter based on performance and not seniority.