Recruiting woes hit small fraternities

Some chapters say size and location make recruitment a “different game.”

by Melissa Berman

Though University of Minnesota officials are working to increase student involvement in Greek life, not all fraternities are growing.

The five smallest chapters in the University’s Interfraternity Council have experienced varying trends in membership in recent years. Some said their size has hindered recruitment efforts, while others haven’t experienced much change in membership.

Phi Delta Theta is down to 13 active members this year. Recruitment Chairman Austin Miller said the challenges of being a small chapter have contributed to the decline.

Recruiting takes a lot of time and effort, he said, and smaller organizations don’t always have enough resources.

“Some large chapters could put more men than we have in our entire chapter in charge of recruitment alone,” he said.

IFC President Spencer Olson said recruiting can be challenging for smaller fraternities.

“They can compete still, but they need to work as hard as the larger fraternities to recruit,” he said.

Phi Delta Theta has a chapter house on 12th Avenue Southeast, and Miller said the separation from University Avenue’s fraternity row forces them to recruit more actively than larger chapters.

He said the chapter would like to move closer to fraternity row, though he isn’t sure that’s possible because of limited space available in the area.

The fraternity’s membership numbers have fluctuated, Miller said, but he’s hopeful they’ll rise this year from an increased emphasis on recruitment.

A house on fraternity row and one of the University’s largest membership bases helps Delta Chi recruit new members, said chapter head of public relations Jack Carlson.

“Because we’re right between East Bank and Dinkytown, we have one of the best locations on campus,” he said.

Delta Chi is the fifth-largest IFC fraternity on campus with 53 active members, but when Carlson joined as a freshman, it was half the size.

“When I came in my freshman year, Delta Chi was kind of on a membership downswing, and there wasn’t a lot of accountability or an organized structure,” he said.

But after revamping recruiting methods, Carlson said membership has “exploded.”

“There’s a lot more effort from alumni and members, and it’s something we’re all pretty passionate about,” he said.

Olson said the IFC is working with smaller fraternity chapters to help them reach out to new members. However, he said growth isn’t always best for smaller chapters because some have limited house space or simply want to keep their numbers low.

Membership has been down for Triangle, an engineering fraternity, chapter president Chad Booth said.

“There were people in the house that weren’t recruiting and didn’t have their focuses where they should have been,” he said.

Past Triangle members didn’t put much effort into growing the fraternity either, he said, but membership is on the rise now because of new members’ efforts.

Delta Upsilon is the fifth-smallest fraternity with 16 active members. Its numbers have remained stable and risen in recent years, chapter president Tom Ward said.

Though he said recruiting is a “different game” for smaller fraternities, IFC efforts have helped them compete with larger chapters.

“They’ve taken a lot of steps to help the smaller houses really get their name out there to continue to grow the Greek community as a whole,” he said.