Old dogs getting tired of the puppies?
Only underclassmen providing leadership? Juniors and seniors who just don’t come around? When they do show up, they seem bored and disconnected from your organization?
This isn’t really a complicated problem, although it’s the source of a lot of frustration for some student leaders. There’s a simple explanation.
The organization suited their needs when they were freshmen and sophomores, but now their needs and interests have shifted, and your organization hasn’t grown with them. Perhaps when they joined they were looking to make friends and find a way to get involved. Two years later, they have a network of friends and they’ve grown bored with the available leadership positions. They are moving on to other things.
Perhaps when your brother joined freshman year, he was looking for a place to party, meet girls, and hang out. Now he’s a junior, and he has a steady girlfriend, he’s turned 21 and prefers to drink and hang out with friends in bars. When he’s around the fraternity, he doesn’t see it meeting any of his needs, and he checks out. The fraternity seems full of immature guys obsessed with partying, and he doesn’t fit in anymore.
Worked then, doesn’t work now. Bye bye.
Ask yourself this question: what does my organization offer to members who are in different stages of their college careers? Are we only offering benefits for a certain age or maturity group?
Your organization should have different activities that appeal to different types of members. Sure, your sorority might have socials, recruitment events, and Greek Week contests that appeal to the young members. But, it can also have weekend trips, alumni career networking events, and special dinners for older members. Family events with children will be attractive to alumnae in their family years. When you are planning all of your organization’s activities over the course of the semester or year, you need to make sure that there are activities that appeal to different generations of members.
What is your residence life association doing for the seniors who don’t like large, loud activities? Can your club sports organization have small gatherings that target smaller groups? What can your professional organization do to help juniors and seniors make graduate school connections and secure assistantships?
Bottom line: if you are only focused on events where you are expecting 100 percent attendance – from people of all ages and interests – you are going to have some motivation issues. I recommend you think of smaller, more “niche” programming, and help your disconnected members feel more catered to. Bring them together, ask them to brainstorm the type of events or activities that would appeal to them, find them the funding, get them integrally involved in the planning, and let them enjoy events that directly appeal to them.
Hey, we all love puppies. But every now and then, it’s nice to hang with the old dogs.
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