Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Monarchy

Our upper level of leadership is much like a Monarchy. Only the chosen few have true eligibility to be elected to the National Board of Directors. For anyone who was ever nominated or self-nominated to be considered for a vacancy knows very well that the pretense of propriety is there but underlying it is a complex manipulation of political shenanigans that certainly look legitimate on the surface. As far back as I remember, which is well over 30 years it has been in essence the passing of the birthright to a select group of individuals. Let me give you a brief run through of how the process works.

Prior to each Conclave the chosen heirs have already been selected. They are guaranteed an interview and make their debut before the nominations committee early on. Then those individuals who have been nominated or self-nominate by the specified procedure are listed and the nomination committee is counseled by one of the current board members or a past board member who is still in the inner circle who should be interviews from that list, time permitting. Once the interview begin it is a revolving door to the committee chamber by existing board members and their past-board minions to lobby for or against those individuals being interviewed. If the committee cannot be properly coaxed then they are intimidated. If that doesn’t work, then the propaganda force goes into action and the RD and staff are sent out to spread negative and positive comments about the various possible candidates. I personally know of an incident where the RD staff was sent out to slander a potential candidate by telling the Conclave delegates that a certain individual was a racist and a member of the Ku Klux Klan among other slanderous comments about his character and that it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to be elected should his name be put in nomination.

I have also witnessed where the heir apparent was knocked out of his position for Grand President when a former board member who had not been previously tapped played some strange last minute politics with the nomination committee. I
It has been an unwritten rule that alumni nominations are not made from the floor and that the delegates simply affirm what comes from the nomination committee. I do recall one instance where some nominations were made from the floor and the ensuing election was everything but “fraternal.”

One wonders why we as a fraternity spend so much time comparing ourselves to our “peer” competitors when we won’t consider some of the more democratic forms of leadership. In some organizations, members of the board are elected by districts or regional areas to balance the representation on a chapter/manpower basis. Some have a hierarchical system where even a district leader is elected by those chapters in the district. These then may be elected to regional leadership position within a region, and then the national board of directors is either composed of the regional leaders or elected from them. This has been suggested to Sig Ep; however, that would make it an openly democratic process that could not be easily manipulated.

I actually think ours would be an ok system if the politics wasn’t so clandestine and sometimes underhanded. Coupled with our politics is the unwritten concept that no one is really worthy to have a position of leadership unless they had served as an RD or staff person (collectively, past-staff). I haven’t done the tally lately but you may want to check out how many District Governors and members of the Board are past-staff.