So, about these chicks and their mothers who are suing Howard University and Alpha Kappa Alpha because they were denied membership into Alpha Chapter.
Actually, I don’t want to talk about them at all. They suck.
Let us instead talk about being a Chapter-publican. Among my fraternity, I tell brothers that I am an Alphapublican. That means I believe that the most important unit in the fraternity is the chapter. It is the chapter who recruits, retains, and reclaims the membership. It is the chapter which serves the community. People join chapters. Based on the national organization’s legacy, of course, but they still join chapters. In an area like Washington, DC, or any other large metropolitan area, there are often multiple chapters of the same organization, each with their own personality and culture.
Leadership of the organizations should support the work of the chapters. People who aspire to be leaders should enjoy the chapter experience – not think about the glory and prestige of being a national, regional, cluster, state, or district officer.
The national headquarters of the organizations should focus on chapter services – giving the chapters what they need in a timely manner to fulfill their obligations of service to the communities.
The chapter is the most important unit. Not the region. Not the cluster. The chapter. Support the chapters.
As such, I believe that the chapter ought to have the final say in matters of membership selection. Always. Even when they are morally or ethically questionable.
First and foremost, every chapter vote ought to be final. When a chapter comes together to vote on who they want, the organization should trust that they have carefully considered who they want, who qualifies, who will be the best fit, etc. If you as an organization or an organization leader can’t trust that you have given the chapters the proper tools to make the right selection, then you have already failed them. Spend your time on training the chapters on how to identify the right candidates.
No one outside of the chapter or higher than the chapter should have the right to change the chapter’s vote in any way. You know what that means? No add-ons. If the chapter has not voted affirmatively on you, then this is the end of the road. There should be no way at all to appeal a decision of the chapter on matters of membership. No Region Directors adding people on after the vote. No parents calling headquarters. No. No, no, no. Bad.
And you know what? No take-offs. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned that some organizations have the power to actually remove a man or woman that the chapter has voted on for specious reasons. Again, if you are empowering the chapter to make the decision to select a line, how is it that one has the time to even check up behind that chapter to “just make sure” they have done everything properly? Sure, a chapter here and there might assist an applicant in fraudulently gaining entry, such as knowledge that the candidate doesn’t reside in the service area of the chapter, or a letter of recommendation which suggests a deeper knowledge of the candidate than is accurate, but you know what? Who cares? The chapter voted yes. The chapter wants the candidate.
Which leads me to the problem of so-called legacy clauses. And no, this is not just an Alpha Kappa Alpha problem. Theirs is just the one you know about.
I am against any policy which bypasses the chapter vote. I do understand the desire to have a policy which honors the bond between mother and daughter, father and son, or between siblings. I get it. I really do. But this bond should not be at the expense of the sovereignty of the chapter.
If your daughter is the bee’s knees, then let her shine on her own. If your son is the top banana, then the chapter will know it. But you, as their parent, will be biased. You just will be. By the time they submit an application, you will have seen their growth over two decades. You will see how far they have come. The chapter they are pursuing will only have known then for two or three semesters. Let them fall in love with your child as you did.
And acknowledge that while we do join organizations, we join them through chapters. The person must fit in the chapter. Let your child find out if they fit. Let the chapter make that determination. Don’t rob your child of the opportunity to forge their own path.
As Oprah quoted someone else on her show, there is a time for the parent to transition from manager to consultant. The women involved in this lawsuit never made that transition. If you are a Greek parent, do your children and your organization a favor: stay out of the membership process until it’s time for you to pin them or come to their neophyte show. It’s the best gift you could give them.
And ponder what I mean by becoming a Chapterpublican yourself. Consider the rights of your chapter, what’s best for your chapter, how your chapter can best serve the community. Don’t undermine your chapter – or anyone else’s – by robbing them of the right, privilege, and responsibility of selecting new members.