When they threaten to quit
I received an email from a fraternity president yesterday. What should I do, he asked? There’s a brother in my chapter who is pissed off, and now he says he’s going to “drop” unless people start being more respectful. He’s tired of the bullshit. What should I do?
I began writing a very constructive response. Find out where his concerns lie. Ask him what he’s done to search for solutions. Can you facilitate some critical conversations that might address some of the hot issues?
After writing nearly three paragraphs, I realized I was angry.
My fourth paragraph said, “Or, just tell him he’s a sorry ass quitter and a coward for threatening to quit something he made a lifetime commitment to. Tell him that he can skip the next meeting and turn in his membership badge if he thinks dropping is a valid idea.”
I felt so much better after writing that.
I can’t stand fraternity and sorority members who threaten to quit. It’s always from members who aren’t contributing much anyway… the bottom third whose commitment is so tentative that throwing away their membership seems like a reasonable response every time they are unhappy.
Even threatening to drop should be disgraceful. You threaten to drop? Shame on you.
If you want to express your frustrations, that’s valid. Want assistance in resolving a dispute? No problem. Want to feel upset about something and stew on it for a while. Go for it.
But threatening to quit? There’s the door.
When you join a fraternity or sorority, you make some promises. Remember those? The ones you made that night you were wearing the robe? Quitting the fraternity isn’t the same thing as quitting a crappy part-time job. Show some respect.
There are some legitimate reasons to leave: transferring or dropping out of school, inability to maintain academics, a sick family member, study abroad. Most of the time, members threatening to drop are just pissed. They’re unhappy or frustrated. They want attention. They aren’t having a good time. They don’t like the way things are going.
Threatening to drop is not the mature answer to anything. It should be the absolute last resort, and if it comes to that, it should be done with great sadness and regret because every other possibility has been exhausted.
Standing up in the chapter meeting and saying you’re going to drop, unless…
Later, Brother. Thanks for the initiation fee.
I ended up calling the young man. I suggested he confront the member with one simple question, “Do you want to quit right now, or do you want to work on this and find a solution?” He emailed me later and said the member chose to drop when given the choice. The president asked for all of his letters, his badge and accepted his resignation. The executive board will vote to expel him this weekend.
It’s hard to lead a student organization. It’s even harder when members feel empowered to threaten quitting to get their way. I suggested the president announce at the next meeting that anyone who publicly threatens to drop would immediately tender their resignation. Appeals could be taken to the standards board.
Let’s hold our brothers and sisters to a higher expectation of commitment. Let’s demand that people stick with us through the good and bad times. In a country where 50-percent of marriages fail, let’s train our members that working through our frustrations yields better results than quitting.
And, if they insist on the threats, let them walk. We have our hands full leading those who commit to sticking around.
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