My amended opinion on “mandatory”
As any of you who read me on a regular basis know, I hate “mandatory.” It has become the lazy leadership default for so many student organizations, especially fraternities and sororities. One sorority chapter I worked with recently had more than 80 mandatory events per semester – sometimes two or more per day.
I’m an advocate for getting rid of mandatory. Make your events more meaningful and fun, I’ve said, time and time again. Plan for reasonable attendance and participation. Stop planning events that demand full participation and try more small events that appeal to specific smaller groups of members.
In an online forum this week, a president of a chapter of Theta Delta Chi made an excellent point, however.
“If we were to take T.J.’s advice and not make any events mandatory and not fine people, then how can you motivate people to come to things like house cleanings? I can’t think of anything I could do that would make cleaning the house more meaningful so that members wanted to attend.”
You, Sir, make an excellent point. I don’t often think of house or party cleaning when talking about getting rid of mandatory.
I still firmly assert that we need to have a goal of getting rid of mandatory for most events in our groups: ritual, meetings, service, Greek Week, etc. But, when it comes to some of the things that we simply need to do to keep the doors open, everyone should be required to pitch in.
You, Mr. Theta Delta Chi Brother, have punched a hole in my anti-mandatory philosophy.
I make my sons do their chores. I don’t spend time thinking how to make mowing the lawn or taking the trash cans out more fun and meaningful for them. I tell them to do their damn chores. So, yes, there is a compelling argument for brothers cleaning the house they live or socialize in. Some things just need to get done, and unless everyone wants to pay more dues so we can hire someone to do these things, everyone needs to pitch in their fair share.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to make cleaning mandatory? Yeah. But, we know the reality.
My rants against “mandatory” are based in the belief that we abuse it. We make too many things mandatory, and being a member of a chapter often feels like being in the military. Five or six nights of mandatory events each week drains chapter morale. We make too many events that should be voluntary “mandatory.” We should all endeavor to reduce our dependence on making so many things mandatory, and we should work harder to make our members enjoy our meetings and events.
But when it comes to taking care of the place we live, showing gratitude at our annual alumni event, or calling your parents – there is room for a little “mandatory.” Perhaps we can move the number of mandatory events closer to zero than 100.
Consider my stance amended.
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