Since Nevada Alpha voted as a chapter in May 2017 to make our chapter facility substance-free, we’ve had our fair share of challenges. Out of these challenges, though, we have seen a great deal of growth and success — some of it expected, some of it unexpected. After adopting changes in a few specific areas, our chapter has found a new status quo that is better than before.
Social events for Nevada Alpha typically meant house parties before we adopted a substance-free policy, and we were nervous about this transition. While it did take some trial and error and discussion to figure out how to have great social events, we have found affordable ways to have just as many safe and successful social events away from the house. My advice is to get involved with licensed local vendors in the area, such as restaurants and bars, as they are always eager to build partnerships in their communities. See here for a quick resource that your chapter can bring to a third-party local vendor to secure an event on their property.
Before adopting the policy, our chapter was nervous that people may no longer come around to the house for social events. This obstacle probably took us the most effort to get around. We began to plan brotherhood events at the house that revolve around the recent improvements to our house. Even something as simple as buying a big sporting event on TV or purchasing a gaming console for the whole house can bring more brothers to the house on a more frequent basis. We didn’t need alcohol to host these events, like some brothers thought we did.
After putting in the work of adopting a substance-free policy, we’ve accomplished much more in the areas of attendance, retention and, perhaps the most important area — brotherly love.
Recruitment was and still is a big topic for our transition to a substance-free facility. We were unsure how this would affect our recruitment, and we knew we had to approach our recruitment with creativity. That paid off — we just finished our first recruitment period with a substance-free facility and saw virtually no change in the number of potential new members who came to our house to see what our chapter is about.
Where we did see a significant change was in the quality of our potential new members. We attracted men who were interested in the right kind of fraternity experience, and I don’t think our chapter has ever recruited such talented leaders in our history.
Prior to becoming a substance-free facility, we had issues filling the house to capacity. This was partly because the house would be messy for weeks at a time, quiet and study hours were rarely observed, and members simply felt that our house was not a home. After voting to become a substance-free facility, we released everyone’s leases, and to our genuine surprise each spot in the house was filled within two weeks.
Since then, we have seen an increase in overall cleanliness, use of study rooms within the house and a decrease in cliques being established within the house. Going substance-free gave our brothers an opportunity to finally have pride in our chapter home, and brothers are spending more time in our newly renovated game room. Now that we have a home we can be proud of, we’re thrilled to have sororities over and we even have a mother’s weekend planned.
Our alumni support has been overwhelming, too. At our recent AVC golf tournament, we were able to raise a substantial amount of money to renovate our largest study room in an effort to achieve Residential Learning Community accreditation. This wouldn’t have happened without the alumni’s increased confidence in our ability to maintain our house.
In 2016, we had a tragic death in our school’s Greek community. This ultimately led to a perception of Greek organizations as dangerous and toxic. As a result, two of our school’s largest fraternity chapters have lost affiliation with the university. At one point, it was difficult to see a future on campus for our chapter.
We tried to mend the relationship that year, to no avail. Once we voted for a substance-free facilities policy, however, it all changed. Immediately, we saw support and a desire for partnership from our university. We were offered services and resources to help transition our chapter home from a wet to dry space. In a more intangible way, our new policy restored the trust between our administration and our chapter. They now come to us first when they need a chapter to lead our Greek community in the right direction.
Overall, our chapter has seen nothing but positive results from adopting a substance-free policy. There were and still are many challenges that come with this transition. If we hadn’t worked hard and risen to the occasion, this change could have ruined our chapter … but we knew that our chapter was about more than alcohol consumption.
Our brothers saw the benefits of adopting a substance-free policy outweighed the costs, and as a result, we pushed toward a common goal for the first time in a long time. Our chapter is closer, more successful and more impactful on our campus because of it.