The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross


 A Council is a coordinating body. It is the chapters that compose it. It is not a chapter in itself. Council should not be in competition with a chapter. It should NOT siphon off the energies for chapter projects and show them how to do it. Council can show chapters how to combine strengths to combat weaknesses.

 Since the measuring stick for council would be based on the strengths of the chapters that compose it, and since it can combine strengths to combat weaknesses, then council must know the chapters that compose it and know where the strengths are. That's the first rule given to councils - KNOW YOUR CHAPTERS!
 Know their names - when they meet - have an idea of their attendance.
 Know the general age range of the members in each chapter.
 Know whether they have interesting meetings, well conducted.
 Know something about the chapter's programs.
 Know their membership strength - and their rushing ability.

 The second rule given to councils would be to do everything possible to HELP CHAPTERS KNOW ONE ANOTHER. In a chapter it is important for every member to know every other member and know those little things about her that make an interesting and whole individual, not just a name. This should be a goal of council - to help every chapter know every other chapter so there is a bridge of Friendship between chapters and among chapters.

 Practical ways in which friendship can be brought about include the following:

SISTER CHAPTER PLAN. This can be arranged through council. Chapters select their sister chapter and entertain them at one social and/or one meeting a year. A chapter learns a great deal from sitting-in-on another chapter's meeting. They learn good things and they see weaknesses that they themselves may have, and become determined to correct them. Inter-chapter Socials help chapters get acquainted, and help some chapters learn how to have socials.

HIGHLIGHT ONE OFFICE AT EACH COUNCIL MEETING. For instance, at the September council meeting, invite all the Vice Presidents. Have some experienced and successful Vice Presidents give a talk that is partly inspirational and partly how-to. Find out at that meeting about each chapters' rushing goals and what assistance they might need to reach those goals. Invite VP's in September because they are just beginning their exciting rushing season. Please contact the Rushing Department at the International Office for any information needed.

 At the next council meeting, highlight the office of President. Even though chapter Presidents automatically attend council there are things pertinent to that office which are not covered in the general run of council meetings. Some points to highlight for Presidents are the importance of the Basic Agenda and conducting a brief, decisive meeting ... the importance of chapter discussion on how a committee functions. You'd be surprised how many members don't know how a committee should function in order to save chapter time. All members, not just special committees, need to know, and it is suggested every chapter have a discussion on it every year.

 At the council meeting where you highlight the office of Recording Secretary, stress the importance of correct terms for each membership status. That may seem easy - but you'd be surprised how many hassles International has because someone inadvertently reported a member was going to be a member-at-large when she actually meant leave of absence. And speaking of leave of absence, when the Recording Secretary attends council and her office is highlighted - ask her to report how many members are on the chapter roster, how many attend, and how many are on leave of absence. If there are many on leave, something is wrong. Other chapters will be able to suggest ways of combating that weakness and International has ideas, too.

WEAR NAME TAGS at all council meetings and all functions where members of various chapters are together. That's a simple way to promote knowing your chapters and members, and of chapters knowing one another.

HAVE A SOCIAL TIME after council meetings. Use get acquainted activities just as they would be used in a chapter when guests are present to build friendships.

 As we talk about each point you'll see how much more effective each procedure will be when council knows its chapters and when chapters know each other.

Remember we said earlier that council should not siphon off the energies of chapters for council activities. Council should NOT plan the activities that a chapter can plan. Council is meant to plan those activities that are beyond the powers of an individual chapter. And the number of those projects should be very limited. Very limited - or council becomes a competitor of the chapter. That would weaken the chapters and thus weaken the council.

TRANSFEREES. Part of the success with transferees depends on how quickly a Beta Sigma Phi calls to welcome the transferee to the area; part of it depends on how quickly she is not only invited, but also picked up and taken to a chapter meeting; and part of it depends on the transferee, herself. A suggestion would be to follow a type of HOSTESS PLAN for contacting transferees. It may not be very different from the plan you are using - but there may be one or two fine points, which can make all the difference.

With this HOSTESS PLAN, when the Council Contact Chairman [1st VP] receives the information about a transferee, she makes the initial welcoming contact immediately, by phone if possible, by note if the phone number is not available or incorrect.

Then the Contact Chairman, knowing the chapters, calls the chapter, which has the very next meeting coming up. She asks them to serve as HOSTESS CHAPTER for this particular transferee. That means a member of the chapter will get in touch with the transferee IMMEDIATELY, arrange for a member to pick her up and take her to the very next meeting. Within reason, it doesn't really matter whether the HOSTESS CHAPTER is of the same degree as the transferee - though if there is a large age gap, that might influence the decision. The Contact Chairman and the Hostess Chapter should let the transferee know that her name will be introduced to all chapters but since this chapter meeting was the first after they knew of her arrival, they wanted her to attend to HELP HER GET STARTED GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH MEMBERS IN THE AREA.

Then the contact information is given to other chapters and they have an opportunity to invite the transferee. Once the information has been given to all chapters, each has an equal opportunity to attract the transferee.

Council should be informed by chapters of which transferees have been invited and have attended which chapter's meetings.

Any delay in getting a transferee invited to a meeting cools her enthusiasm. Even if the Contact Chairman calls her as soon as she receives her name, unless a chapter invites her to a meeting soon, she begins to have qualms. Assigning her to a HOSTESS CHAPTER for the first chapter meeting is to fill the void. Sometimes when transferee names are read or given at council meetings, chapters don't really know what is expected of them. This could be especially true at the beginning of the year when new officers take over.

Chapters in a city can see both sides of the coin. We know how much chapters appreciate it when a transferee takes part of the initiative. But you can't expect that from all transferees. Try to see it through their eyes ... they don't want to be pushy ... they are unsettled ... they don't know their way around ... they are afraid ... maybe they won't find the place of the meeting, afraid of entering a meeting alone. Remember the transferee is ONE person - she's being put into a group of close friends. TAKE AS MUCH OF THE DECISION MAKING off her shoulders as you can.

The best solution is to make a personal welcoming call as soon as you get the name, arrange for the transferee to be picked-up for a chapter meeting within a matter of days. And make sure chapters know how to follow through by contacting transferees - that's worthy of discussion at council. And if you decide to use the HOSTESS CHAPTER PLAN be sure chapters know that whichever chapter serves as hostess to take the transferee to the first chapter meeting after her arrival should not extend an invitation to the transferee until her name has been given to all chapters.

PROGRESSION. The rules have changed in regard to Progression. Nothing has been taken away from the traditional way of progression yet great flexibility has been added. Members can still progress into existing chapters of higher degrees just as before. OR, members who become eligible for the next highest degree can receive that degree and remain in their current chapter. Progression was created for the individual member herself and it is of benefit to her to progress when she becomes eligible.

The chapter Vice President receives from the International Office in September and January, a Ritual Certification form. This form indicates who in the chapter is eligible to progress. Encourage members to receive their next highest degree if they decide to remain in your chapter. If no one is eligible to read the Ritual of that next highest degree in your chapter, invite a member who is holds that degree from another chapter.

RUSHING. Being interested in chapters' membership strength and success in rushing as well as focusing attention on chapters' rushing success at council meetings is a step in the right direction. Does your council know when and how many a chapter pledges? Do you openly congratulate the chapter and make a big thing of it? That is extremely important to do!

It is not recommended that councils do the rushing for chapters. Council can, however, coordinate the strength of all chapters to help each one find the names of women to be rushed. And through knowing the chapters and members council can find help for the chapters, which are not good at rushing.

FINDING THE NAMES OF THOSE TO BE RUSHED. This needs to be done by a plan, i.e., pin pointing areas, brainstorming. The Membership Department at International has several plans that yours for the asking.

By providing each chapter with a copy of the plan, council can expect every chapter to come up with names of women to be rushed.

Councils can combine strengths to combat weaknesses by having a RUSHING SEMINAR for all Vice Presidents and an 'understudy' which she would choose from her chapter. Keep the group small and thoroughly digest every step of rushing and fine-tune the points that make each step successful.

Knowing your members and chapters, you will know which chapter has always been good at rushing and you will know which members have served as successful rushing chairmen. You'll know which chapters are weak in that area. See if you can get those strong rushing members to actually tune in on the plans of a chapter not used to rushing yet. Combine strength to combat weakness.

Just as a chapter is proud of the Vice President who leads them to a record in rushing success, so council should be proud and give accolades to the chapters that have outstanding success and encouragement to those who need it.

It's time to get down to grass roots and strengthen your councils at the Ritual of Jewels level. When you gather names of possible rushes from all chapters, you're going to have more names than the individual chapters can rush. Chapters should not rush a large number at a time. It is better for them to concentrate on a few. You'll have names left over and those names can be the basis for a Friendly Venture chapter. I can just hear you saying, "Oh, council is so busy now that we can't Friendly Venture!" That's very much like a chapter saying, "We have so many projects under way that we'll leave rushing until they are complete." New pledges in a chapter and new chapters in a Council must come first! They can't be left until everything else is done because they are the very life of the chapter or council. Its ability to do things depends on membership strength.

For Council to sponsor a Friendly Venture doesn't mean that every member of Council has to get into the act. That would be overwhelming. Council can select a Friendly Venture committee - and the members don't even need to be those attending Council this year. A small committee can Friendly Venture most efficiently. It would be considered a Special Committee.

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