Friday, April 18, 2008

Conundrum Redux

Most of the following was posted to the blog in 2004. It doesn't appear that much has changed in the past four years.

For a fraternity with so many alumni out there, it seems we are totally depended with just the talent that resides in our past-staff (former RD's and/or HQ staff). Now, in 2008, it is even more obvious when recently reviewing a copy of the current National Committee list. Almost every standing committee is flush with "past staff." Even a majority of the National Board of Directors (and you can’t count the undergrad members) is past staff. It raises some very serious questions: .....

  • Diversity. With our operational infrastructure being totally run and governed by past staff, where is the diversity? Certain chapters and regions of the country have traditionally been over-represented when staff members were selected. Do we currently have geographic, regional, or district diversity? How can the interests and regional differences be properly represented if there is not sufficient diversity within the leadership?
  • Elitism. If only past staffers are deemed capable and competent individuals for positions of leadership, then we are implying that the only competent “leaders for tomorrow” are those who have passed through Richmond on their way to a career. Moreover we are obviously doing a terrible job of: (1) recruiting the best and the brightest campus leaders in our chapters, (2) member development in that we are unable to turn these quality recruits into quality leaders for tomorrow, and (3) educating our alumni volunteers that are not past staffers. This argument folds back on itself when you consider that the staff should excel at helping chapters to do those very things!
  • Stagnation. By either actively or passively adopting the philosophy of utilizing only our "home schooled" past staff, we have become biased, we have develop tunnel vision, and we have lost the true ability to think outside the box. It is quite evident that anyone who is not past staff that expresses an opinion that goes against the "past staff party line" or calls attention to an obvious frailty is deemed a heretic and will be made a political pariah. The leadership of the Fraternity must be able to take its own inventory. It must be able to listen to different points of view with the idea that great concepts often come from unexpected quarters.
  • Divine Right. Desire to serve is our greatest asset among our real alumni volunteers - the unsung heroes who really embody the essence of the fraternity experience to our undergraduates. The perception is that past staff members consider the positions of leadership as their divine right and the path to the elitist circles and lots of free trips. If we as an organization are unable to either grow, train, or recruit quality volunteers to serve other than the past staffers, then we have failed miserably.
  • More about Elitism. In a passive aggressive manner, we have gotten away from the concept of providing opportunities for all members and further expanded our elitism through the Leadership Continuum. The only remaining vestige of global/corporate inclusion is now EDGE. In fact, these, for the most part, are also run by past staff, they continue to perpetrate the inbred concepts referred to earlier.

What should be done?This is a question with a two-part answer, and both parts must be addressed if the Fraternity is to continue to serve its stated Cardinal Principles.First, the current Leadership of the Fraternity must develop a strategy and specific goals to recruit and train alumni volunteers who have not served the Fraternity in a professional capacity. The ratio of non-staff alumni to past staff is extremely high, and we are surely missing some great talent. Second, the undergraduate membership must insist on competent leadership and be ready to provide it if called for. Conclave committees must not be a ‘rubber stamp’ but should do their own investigation. Unfortunately, at our gatherings like CLAs and Conclave, the smoke and mirrors propaganda works like cult indoctrination to mystify and wow the delegates and attendees so that any agenda can be easily accomplished. What would happen if all of a sudden our undergraduates said, "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more," and do what one of our "peer" fraternities did at one of their conclaves - purge the board and HQ staff and start all over.......