We’ve all gone through it. The new member process is exciting, fun and filled with presents, first-class treatment, and meeting new people. Initiation comes and goes, and that idyllic feeling of bliss begins to wear off. Presents are replaced with time commitments, first-class treatment is replaced with sorority responsibilities, and, as you’re drawn into the folds, those fascinating new people become regular people with regular drama. Its no wonder that newly initiated members tend to feel down when they become active members. Its also no surprise that many sororities stress the importance of keeping newly initiated members involved as this is when members are most likely to deactivate. So how do you keep these members excited about the chapter while transitioning them from new member nirvana to active member reality?
As new members…
As with the other sisters of your sorority, the key to keeping new members involved is keeping them interested. This is why the new member process and education is so important. During the new member process, not only should your new members be learning about the sorority, but the sorority should also be learning about the new members. Its one thing to know someone’s year in school, major and if she has a boyfriend (anyone can find that out in five minutes). Its quite another thing to know what someone’s passion is, what they do in their spare time, what their ambitions are, and what they expect from the sorority. During the new member process, make sure your active sisters learn the nitty gritty about their new members. This might require more time spent with new members and making more of an effort, but just remember: these girls are the future of your chapter. If they don’t feel connected to the sisterhood by initiation, what will motivate them as active members to get involved?
As active members…
The work doesn’t stop at initiation. After initiation is when your sisters need to rally together and involve your newly initiated sisters. Some will be easier than others: some girls will jump right in, no holds barred, and volunteer for committees or run for elected positions. Others will need more coaxing, and possible a gentle push in the right direction. For these members, capitalize on their interests. A computer-genius sister? Have her work on the chapter’s website. A very social sister? Assign her to fundraiser for the chapter’s philanthropy. An introverted, book-smart sister? Chapter historian has her name written all over it. If you don’t know your new members well, I suggest the following (besides from getting to know the new members yourself):
- Ask your new member educator. This sister usually spends the most time with new members and has a unique experience with all the new members
- Ask the new member’s big sister. Big sisters are chosen for the new member because they have a special bond with the member
- Ask other new members in the same initiation class. Many times, new members bond with the members of their class before bonding with active members of the sorority. Just because they are new members, don’t think they won’t know something about another new member
- Ask active members. Sometimes, active members end up spending hours with new members without even realizing it (class, athletics, etc.). And, more times than not, they get to know the new member
Always remember: there are always aspects of the sorority that could use an extra hand or another head, and for every sister, there is a place and responsibility to be filled. By keeping the newly initiated sisters busy with and interested in the chapter, you’ll make them feel connected to their sisters and to the sisterhood. And when sisters feel that they belong, there’s little chance they’ll choose to leave.