Maybe your chapter is blessed with an alumni association free of hangers-on. Maybe it’s an association of Fortune 500 CEO’s, university deans and stock brokers. But some chapters aren’t so lucky. Some chapters are run by idiots. People who were convinced by their much wiser, much cooler alumni peers (who wanted no part of the post) to take the position they have. What that means is there will be quite a few fuck ups and (hopefully) unintentional illegal activity. Which means you, Mr. President, may be playing an accessory to a crime. Talk about preparing yourself for the real world.
One of my favorites was always the quasi money laundering. If you’ve been a President, treasurer or even VP of Philanthropy and have a basic understanding of money, then you know that this happens. The chapter actually commits a communal crime simply by maintaining a social budget. Ostensibly collected and maintained to pay for philanthropies, t-shirts and similar Greek life staples, the social fund’s most important purpose is in reality used to buy booze and lure thirsty, mistake prone slams into their dingy basements.
A nationally dry fraternity (obviously in name only) or any group containing social fee-paying members below the legal drinking age can’t legally collect money to buy booze. Therefore your social fund is kept off the books.
Money laundering. Boom. But it gets bigger.
Enter the alumnus. He has no real boss and no tangible oversight. He does, however, have a committed following of deep-pocketed financiers, undergrad parents. “Glorified secretary” is the role you play between parents and the alumni association. You field the phone calls.
“My son graduated last May,” a grumpy father grumbles. “He lived in that…‘house,’ for two years. We paid that all up front but now we’re getting calls about a bill for sixteen hundred dollars. What’s that about?”
“I’m sorry to hear that, sir,” you say with a calm, polite voice. The secretary voice is key—apologetic but sharp, and at a slightly higher pitch than normal. Don’t poke the bear.
“A couple hundred dollars each semester after he moved out,” he says. “YOU TOLD me that. Where is this coming from?”
“I’ll give our property management company a call and let you know what I find out. Sorry again about all this. We’ll be in touch.”
There is no property management company, just the alumni board, which is really just that one money-laundering turd. You call him.
“Good afternoon!” He says. “How is it down there? Lord of the Flies, am I right?”
You used to like that book, and that joke was kid of funny the first time you heard it, but a year later… die. No time to worry about that now though, he’s bound to have a “super urgent business call” in the next minute and a half.
“Hate to bother you. What do we charge out-of-house actives for exactly?”
“Well, you see, the house has an insurance policy.”
Insurance is one of his favorite words.
“Obviously we have our dues to the national Fraternity, so couple hundred there, and then we have to keep all active members on the chapter policy, so it comes out to about eight hundred dollars per dude, per semester.”
“Our rush chairs tell guys 400. I even thought it was 400. This is the first I’ve heard any different. What do I tell this guy’s dad?”
“Insurance, Mr. President!” He yells triumphantly, “No parent in their right mind wants little Billy Joe Brother running around an old house unprotected. ALWAYS make sure you mention the INSURANCE! Gotta go. I’ve got to grab this call, real can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime-type thing here or I’d love to tell ya more. Best of luck!”
You can picture him chuckling happily before going back to his game of minesweeper. The insurance argument always appeased the parents though, so you have to give the guy credit. He knew the game well, and he played at the big tables. You could probably plead ignorance if anyone ever confronted you about the shovel-full of bullshit you fed them about an insurance policy that doesn’t exist, or is at the very least greatly exaggerated.
But to your guilty-by-association credit, you don’t know where that money’s going. Probably into an account that no doubt funds any actions or purchases that the alumnus deems are “fraternity expenses.” You have enough shit to worry about though, so you forget about it.
That is until you move out and they come for your sixteen hundred dollars. Then that alumnus might be getting a subtle reminder that you’re well aware of the house’s “insurance” policies.