New Member Education
Why the change to a 10-day New Member Orientation period?
A full description of why the change was made can be found here. Further explanation from National Vice President, Shannon Price, can be found here.
Will the New Member Orientation period be a gradual shift or will it be more of an immediate change, and what does that plan look like?
As of the Fall 2018 term, all chapters will be expected to adopt and implement the member orientation program and continuing education. Given the ongoing health & safety issues we face as an organization and fraternal community, we believe it is in our best interest to launch this program immediately.
What constitutes the 10-day period?
As an example, if a candidate accepts an invitation for membership on Friday September 1, the chapter has until Monday, September 11 to complete the orientation process and initiate the new member. Chapters do not have to wait until the tenth day to initiate their members—they may initiate at any point during the 10 days as long as the chapter completes the minimum expectations of the orientation period. Federal holidays and extended university breaks will not count towards the 10-day period.
What will occur during the 10-day period?
Chapters will schedule three separate education sessions conducted on three separate occasions. Each evening will have a unique theme and purpose, covering important topics such as getting to know the brothers and other new members, learning resources on campus, exploring why the Creed and Phi Psi’s values are important to members and alumni, understanding the expectations and obligations of membership, and understanding what national and local opportunities are available to brothers. These are the critical topics and discussions to allow prospective members to make the decision whether to initiate or not. The New Member Ceremony will be the first event that occurs on evening one of the orientation process.
What is the official term for the members going through this new process?
Since 2013, the National Fraternity specifically used the term New Member to identify and refer to a person “pledging” to join Phi Kappa Psi. We will continue to refer to them as New Members during the 10-day New Member Orientation period.
How can we educate our men on our local/national history and expectations in 10 days?
Member education is an ongoing process that is not exclusive to those just joining the fraternity. As members of an organization that requires a lifelong commitment, it is important that we continue to emphasize lifelong education. The current six week new member program does not provide all of the education new members should receive, and no program that we could develop would do so. Education should begin during recruitment to provide every new member with the most accurate representation of the organization before he decides to join.
Many of our chapters currently operate under the guise that the only time to educate is when men are new members. The New Member Orientation period provides opportunities to begin learning history, expectations and obligations. That education does not stop once they are initiated, which is why this program focuses so much on continuing education.
Have other organizations had success with a model like this?
We are not the first national fraternity to pursue a change in new member education. Sigma Phi Epsilon introduced the Balanced Man program in 1993, and it is considered an industry best practice in continued member education. Zeta Beta Tau instituted a 72-hour initiation rule in 1989, Alpha Gamma Rho eliminated pledging in 1992, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon created a 96-hour program in 2015. All four organizations have seen positive benefits from these changes. In particular, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has seen a major reduction in insurance claims during the past two years. Alpha Kappa Lambda also recently eliminated the “pledge process”. Across the fraternity and sorority industry, changes to organizational education and operations to craft healthier, safer experiences are occurring more frequently with positive results. While at the forefront of this policy change, Phi Psi will not be the last organization to commit to a stronger and healthier new member integration process.
What are the educational requirements for newly-initiated brothers under this new model?
New brothers will still be required to complete GreekLifeEdu and CllftonStrengths® by an established deadline. They will also be expected to participate in the Fraternity’s continued education program that will be rolled out later this summer.
How does this affect the New Member Educator position?
In this new model, the New Member Educator will become the Fraternity Educator. They will work closely with the Health & Wellness Chair, Risk Manager and Scholarship Chair to create a full membership education experience. This person will be tasked with managing a committee that coordinates and supports the educational needs for all members and holds them accountable to completing their annual requirements.
How will progress in the continued education program be tracked?
Phi Kappa Psi will be building a system via our new technology partnership with ChapterSpot for members to individually track their progress in each area of the continued education program. The Fraternity Educator and other key officers and advisors will have access to track progress by all chapter/colony members. It will be rolled out later this summer.
With these changes, can we anticipate that insurance rates will fall?
Not necessarily, but the possibility is real. Ultimately, our objective is to create a safer environment for our members. We believe that this is one step towards that objective. If the number of insurance claims are reduced over time, we may see a reduction in the cost of insurance for chapters. As of now, the Fraternity’s insurance premium is higher than the average of our FRMT counterparts.
Can we change our chapter bylaws to disavow the unit rule in favor of something less stringent to kick out problem members?
The Unit Rule remains in place as part of our Constitution and must be followed by all chapters. If it is determined that a member is no longer worthy of being a full-fledged brother, the chapter must follow the process set forth in the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Phi Kappa Psi. Headquarters staff members are preparing education files and webinars for chapters to better understand this process. Please look for more information in the coming months.
What happens if a chapter takes an underground class, does not report a class to the Headquarters or includes activities in the 10 days that are not a part of the program?
Each instance where this occurs will be addressed in the same manner as any policy infraction by the Fraternity’s Headquarters and Executive Council. Our drive is to develop and implement a program that provides a healthy experience for all members. We encourage chapters to avoid looking for workarounds or outright policy infractions.
Will this eliminate hazing?
This policy change alone will not eliminate hazing. The intent of this change is
- To emphasize fraternity education as a life-long experience, not a six week program
- To redirect attention to the Ritual and Creed of Phi Kappa Psi
- Create a culture where our newest members do not tolerate poor treatment
- Create a culture where our members are willing to speak up and address unhealthy behaviors in their chapter
Hazing is an action taken by an individual or group to reinforce a system of dominance. There is an inherent power dynamic in the ongoing new member education process between brothers and new members. This makes it difficult for new members to stand up for themselves in the face of hazing practices without sacrificing social and political capital and potentially severing relationships with current brothers and new members. By limiting the time these men serve as new members, it creates an environment where they are more likely to hold each other accountable to the Ritual and Creed early on in their membership, and make it less likely that they are willing to tolerate abhorrent behaviors.
A shortened new member education period may help reduce instances with new members, but how will the Fraternity work to reinforce the values of the organization with active members to curtail hazing, sexual assault and alcohol violations?
The Fraternity is already engaged in comprehensive educational efforts with our members on those topics. A majority of it is being tackled through our award-winning ELEVATE Health & Wellness program that addresses dangerous drinking behaviors, sexual violence prevention, healthy masculinity, and other related topics through a variety of awareness campaigns, in-person programs with volunteer facilitators, and comprehensive Campus Resource Guides.
Our Standards team is working proactively with chapters that experience issues with hazing, sexual assault and alcohol violations. Our Consultants are also working with chapters on their visits to have discussions around policies (e.g. Ladder of Risk) and other risk prevention initiatives.
These continued education programs will reinforce the Fraternity’s focus on the Ritual, Creed and our values while providing expectations for members to be educated and trained on key topics.
How does this affect our chapter’s recruitment efforts?
One of the top concerns of parents and potential members alike when asked about fraternity membership is hazing. We anticipate this having a positive influence on recruitment. Given chapters and new members will have 10 days to decide if membership in Phi Kappa Psi is for them, it will require chapters to do as much as possible in the recruitment period to ensure men given invitations for membership are worthy. Chapters who embrace 365-recruitment will have the most success in ensuring each invitation for membership is considered carefully and selectively.
We recognize some universities only allow about a week in the fall term for chapters to meet potential new members and invite them to join their organization. If this is the case, chapters will need to be more selective about who they invite in during that short period and be willing to add additional members at later dates (i.e. halfway through the term, the spring term, etc.).
If New Member Orientation over 10 days is a way of weeding out those who do not have the heart for or emulate the values of the Fraternity, will there be other methods of evaluation besides the Unit Rule?
Successful chapters will focus the majority of their efforts on recruitment to set themselves up for success in this new system. The former system of new member education was not designed to be a method for weeding out new members—it traditionally existed as a way for worthy men to learn more about the organization and the members, and to determine if membership reflected their expectations and standards. Invitations for membership should only be given if the chapter is confident the new member will make a great Brother. The new system is designed to be a time for prospective members and the Brothers to become acquainted with one another and make a calculated decision as to whether lifelong membership in the organization is a fit for both sides.
How do we respond to other organizations who may say that we are not building brotherhood with a shortened education period and only care about collecting dues and not about building lifelong connections?
Brotherhood is not built in a day, 10 days or six weeks. It’s an ongoing, lifelong process of men building trust and camaraderie through shared experiences. This new approach will reinforce that Brothers need to continually earn each other’s trust and build brotherhood underneath the Fraternity’s Ritual, Creed and values as initiated members. By eliminating a lengthy new member education process, it emphasizes that all Brothers should be connecting with one another versus simply expecting new members to get to know each other. One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen in chapters over time is a culture where new members are expected to get to know initiated members, but there was not a reciprocal expectation.
How does reducing the length of time a person is a new member from six weeks to 10 days give anyone the incentive to learn and understand the values and history of the Fraternity?
Members can create the incentive to learn more about Phi Kappa Psi, its values and history, by recognizing Phi Psi as a top chapter on their campus and living the values of the Fraternity. Demonstrating that they are a chapter worth joining — along with an active recruitment strategy based on building relationships with prospective members — will naturally develop an incentive for them to join and learn more about Phi Kappa Psi.
Will this change allow chapters to take multiple classes of new brothers each term?
Chapters are encouraged to take as many classes per term as they are able and willing. Hypothetically, a chapter could take upward of four to five new classes of prospective members each term if they choose to do so. Those chapters who are already practicing 365 recruitment will be better prepared to start taking multiple classes per term.
With this new change, are there any plans to include parents in the recruiting process as a way of determining a potential member’s character?
During the member orientation process, chapters will be encouraged to connect with the parents of prospective members to help them better understand the obligations and expectations of membership. To maximize recruitment efforts, chapters should understand the qualities they seek in potential members and find every avenue possible to learn about the character of their recruits.
Does this violate any of the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules?
No. This does not violate any Phi Kappa Psi governing documents. The development of this program and other policy changes have sparked discussions on other amendment changes. The bylaws refer to pledging, but since this is not abolishing pledging, but rather shortening it, there is no conflict with the current bylaws.
How will we remove someone who has been initiated if we find out later that they are not worthy of membership within the Fraternity?
According to the Phi Kappa Psi Constitution, Bylaws and Rules (CBR); Rules Article I, Charges and Trials, Section 4: Procedures Upon Charges Proffered Before a Chapter, Clause 9: Whenever the findings of the Judicial Committee shall be adverse to the defendant, the chapter may impose whatever penalty it may deem suitable, provided that a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the undergraduate members of the chapter shall be necessary to suspend or expel a defendant.
The Headquarters staff will be preparing a webinar for the fall term to help educate chapter leadership on this process.
Does HQ have any advice on how to assign big/little brothers since 10 days is not enough time to really get to know a new member?
First, your chapter should be learning as much as possible about a potential recruit before you offer him an invitation for membership. A bid should not be given to a recruit unless his character, values, and goals are understood, and it has been determined he would make a great member. If you do your homework on potential new members, it should help eliminate the worry that 10 days isn’t enough time to get to know a potential member before asking him to join and assigning him a mentor.
We recommend assigning big brothers simultaneous with the initiation ceremony or immediately after.
Were any members beyond the Executive Council consulted before making this change?
This decision was not made lightly. It has been an ongoing conversation among the Executive Council (EC) (Archons included), our peer organizations, the Fraternity’s Headquarters staff, chapter advisors, house corporation members and other experienced and knowledgeable volunteers. A number of volunteers were invited to the Executive Council meetings in December and February to participate in lengthy discussions on this topic, and solicited through emails for additional input and guidance. Research on the topic was circulated to all attendees ahead of each meeting to understand the entire context of the environments in which we are operating. The Executive Council and Headquarters staff have also been closely monitoring the recommendations of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the policy changes being implemented at host institutions across the country, to determine the best plan of action.
How will the success or failure of the Member Orientation program be evaluated?
We are developing a comprehensive assessment strategy to help us understand the long-term impact of the changes to our education approach and the overall impact of the Phi Psi experience on our members. More information will be available as the plans are finalized.
When should we expect more information on the program and any necessary resources?
More information will be available at the GAC in Las Vegas July 11-15. All necessary resources will be available to chapters at the latest in early August.
Will there be a conference call to discuss this topic further with the membership?
Yes, the intention is to further discuss this topic during scheduled call later in the spring. The exact timing has yet to be determined, and more information will follow.
Who do we contact if we have additional questions?
Please send your additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.