Looking back on my time as an active member of my chapter, there really aren’t any bad memories. Sure, pledging sucked, but the end certainly justified the means. Now that I think about it, there really was only one kind of experience that truly sucked, as in it had absolutely no benefits whatsoever. If you’ve been through it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The shittiest periods of time in my career as an active were without a doubt when Nationals would come down for a visit.
If you haven’t experienced Nationals coming down, consider yourself lucky. Then again, if Nationals hasn’t had to come to your chapter, maybe y’all just suck and follow the rules like they want you to. To be fair, a visit from Nationals doesn’t always mean you and your chapter fucked up. There are several instances in which people from your fraternity’s headquarters will make a visit to your chapter.
The first of these occasions is when your chapter has done something incredibly good. I’ve never heard of this happening. Maybe it has somewhere, but not to anyone I’ve ever met. Moving right along.
The next example is what I like to call the “check up.” These happen every semester or so, and like all visits from Nationals, are incredibly annoying. As they’ll tell you every time they come down for one of these visits, they’re not there because you’re in trouble. They’re just there to see how your chapter is doing and to try to point you in the right direction in areas of weakness. At least that’s what they say. In reallity, they’ve come to scrutinize you, check your books, and to tell you that everything your chapter has done is wrong. The worst part about these visits is the people they send. If someone from the national exec board came and told me and my chapter how to budget properly, I might give him a listen. After all, he’s got age and experience on me. Nationals doesn’t do this, though. Instead, they send “leadership consultants.”
I’ve never understood why someone decides to become a leadership consultant. For those of you lucky enough not to have met one of these dweebs, a leadership consultant is a poorly paid, under-trained employee from your national office. Generally, they’re no more than 23 or 24 years old. These recent graduates tend to hail from your fraternity’s chapter at East Podunk State Teacher’s College where they were known for their annual LARP philanthropy event. It’s for the kids. They’re all nerds. Every single one of them.
So, the leadership consultants come down, tell you what you’re doing “wrong,” give a speech at chapter about how throwing great parties goes against the ritual, and then they go back to Indianapolis or wherever they came from. In all, their visits aren’t that bad. Sure, they’re annoying, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re just a minor nuisance, especially when compared to the more serious visits from Nationals.
The next kind of visit is more grave in nature. Your chapter got busted for hazing. The school’s Greek Life coordinator was more than pleased to inform your national office, and now those dicks are headed your way. This time, they don’t send a dorky leadership consultant. They send in the big guns: the risk management team.
These guys are more serious. I’m not sure what qualifies them to hold the positions they do, but they take their jobs very, very seriously. As soon as they come down, it’s strictly business. They start interrogating actives and pledges (who damn well better have their lines down), conducting interviews, and sometimes trying to get someone to rat out the chapter. Obviously, these visits can have dire consequences. If you’re lucky, you’ll get off free. Maybe they can’t find anything, or maybe the charges aren’t serious enough to warrant any real punishment. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
Your chapter might undergo a “membership review.” Commonly known as “clearing house,” a membership review is when the folks from Nationals handpick who stays in the chapter and who gets inactivated. If the charges are serious enough, some brothers may even be permanently expelled from the house. Membership reviews suck. The dicks from HQ expect you to rat out your brothers, and when you don’t, they accuse you of being bad for the fraternity. Nerds, man. Of course, there are greater consequences.
The last kind of visit, and certainly the worst in my opinion, is the shut down. Thankfully, I’ve never had to experience this one, but I do know many who have. Nationals comes down and they take the physical charter, the ritual book and associated items, and any property they deem as significant to the national organization. They kick everyone out and take your house off the roll of official chapters. If you’re lucky and have a good alumni board, you might be back on campus in a year or two. If not, then who knows. Maybe Nationals will recolonize in a few years once everyone has graduated and fill the new chapter with people who never would’ve had a shot at a bid when you were in. It truly is a sad thing to witness.
How can you avoid these visits? Well, honestly, to fully avoid them, you pretty much have to suck. Throw shitty parties, follow all the rules, and have a weak pledge process and you’ll be the poster child chapter for Headquarters. Or, and I think you’ll all agree that this is the better option, cover your asses. Leave no evidence. Keep your chapter finances together. Above all, remember that house business is house business. What Nationals doesn’t know won’t hurt them.