It has been a best practice for most chapters in Pi Kappa Alpha to have a component to their new member education program that has new members assume roles within the new member class that mirror the chapter’s organizational leadership where they operate similarly to the chapter. Although good in theory, most chapters begin to make their new members also hold similar types of events and functions. When chapters do this, it becomes difficult to have new members execute on their own events, keep up with chapter events, continue acclimating to college life and excel in the classroom when they are expected to foster and develop their own micro fraternity chapter. Again - good in theory, but what that practice actually does is increase the workload on the new members and burns them out rather quickly which in turn makes their initiation feel like a finish line rather than the starting line it is intended to be as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. I want to introduce to you a way to basically accomplish the same thing, but have the new members participate in what the chapter is doing rather than doing their own events. This process will take place in the form of shadowing.
Purpose of New Member Shadowing
The purpose of having the new member class hold similar positions that mirror the chapter’s organizational structure is to accomplish the following:
- They will have a title, role and a goal which will make them take ownership in the chapter and will subsequently feel obligated to invest time and resources into their positions
- It will help the new members understand a specific position within the chapter and its functionality
- When a new member holds a position that mirrors a chapter positions, not only are they going to get hands on training for that role, they essentially become a part of that chairman’s committee and can contribute to that position’s goals and therefore the chapter’s overall goals. For example, the new member class public relations chairman paired with the chapter’s public relations chairman
- When new members hold positions within their new member class and are paired with their chapter counterpart and begin to work with him on his committee, they can give reports on what the chapter has going on respective to their position during new member meetings in order to keep everyone up-to-date
- New members will gain exposure to running a chapter meeting by mirroring what the actual chapter is doing in their meetings
- Most importantly, shadowing allows the chapter’s newest members to gain overall exposure to running the chapter as they will be the future leaders of not only the chapter, but the Fraternity
New Member Shadowing Process
In the beginning of a chapter’s new member education program (week one or two), it is recommended that the new member educator educate the new members on chapter leadership and operations so that the new members understand how the chapter operates and how the chapter is organized by position to support the chapter’s operations. Be sure to reference your chapter’s organizational flow-chart. Following the introduction of the positions, give the new members some time to understand the roles and then either have them nominate individuals for the positions in the chapter flow-chart and have an internal election, or just appoint them to positions based on strengths and skillsets. It would be best to have them mirror the process the chapter utilizes for each position based on the chapter’s bylaws so that they can become familiar with the process. Once positions have been affirmed, the next step would be to have each position holder read the position handbook found at www.pikes.org in order to gain a broader understanding of the role and then meet with their position counterpart within the chapter. Once they are acquainted with their role, the new member educator should teach them how to run a meeting so that they can do the same within their class meetings following the education they receive each week. Finally, once the new members are familiar with all of that material, they should be an active part of the chapter’s operations like any other brother putting in the work to help the chapter accomplish its goals.
This process will work regardless of the length of your new member education process. If your chapter can effectively incorporate the shadowing program within its new member education process, then you are better equipping your chapter for success in the long-run by preparing your future leaders to take action within the chapter for years to come. After all, Pikes are men of action!
Devon T. Teixeira
Director of Membership Development