Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
By Jack Ross
All too often in chapter or council elections, the vote becomes more of a popularity contest than a selection of the best candidates.
But when you get right down to brass tacks, nominating a dear friend for an office for which she is not qualified is not an act of friendship. Your action may tell your friend you are proud of her and trust and rely upon her, but there are other and better ways to demonstrate your feelings. Every member of every chapter and every representative to city council should give careful advance thought to those who will be nominated and to those for whom she will vote for each office. Some offices, such as the office of treasurer and recording secretary particularly, require special skills if they are to be handled in the best way and with the least amount of difficulty for the officer elected. Each office has some special requirement for which some members are better suited than others.
Every chapter or council is a bit different, but the general duties of each office are still very similar. Let's consider them.
What does it take to be a good president? A president needs to be well liked, but being the most popular member is not necessary. She needs much more to be steady, decisive, orderly, understanding, and above all, enthusiastic. She needs to understand the basis of the organization, its structure and its modes of operation. She needs to be well enough acquainted with the members of her chapter or council to understand their needs, desires, and wishes; she needs to be selfless enough to want those members' desires fulfilled.
She needs to be able to keep track of the work of the committees without interfering with it. She needs to be able to preside at a meeting without dominating it. It is her duty to execute the expressed wishes of the members, but not her duty to make all the plans and do all the work herself. She is not someone upon whom you dump all the projects and problems while you walk away and forget them. She is the leader, but not the ruler. No one will fill all those qualifications perfectly, but you should choose from among you the one who, at that time, can best fill those qualifications considering her own talents and available time.
The vice president is not the understudy president. Simply presiding when the president is absent is not her chief duty. She leads the chapter, also, in a specific area. She is the chapter's membership chairman. She is the rushing chairman and the chapter hostess. She, too, needs great enthusiasm. She also needs a very good understanding of the organization so she can clearly and easily present it to prospective members. She needs to be gracious and interested in people so she can fulfill her role as hostess, and in city council do an effective job of helping council do an effective job of helping transferees. Besides enthusiasm for the organization and the chapter, she needs a clear understanding of membership needs in the chapter. In fact, she needs to know as much as anyone about Beta Sigma Phi, so she can give proper pledge training to the new members.
One of the most demanding and difficult jobs in any chapter is the job of the recording secretary. Ideally, the member elected to that position will have the mechanical skills, such as typing and possibly shorthand, which will make the position easy for her. A member who has to write down the minutes by hand and take copious notes in longhand is at a disadvantage. A recording secretary also needs to be an orderly, well-organized person. She should be good with details, and keep all the chapter and membership records, which are shared with International, up to date. She needs to be able to organize the notes she takes into clear, concise and brief minutes and reports. She also needs the heartfelt thanks of every member for doing a difficult job.
The corresponding secretary needs to express the chapter's written communication gracefully, clearly and correctly. She needs to understand the proper forms of correspondence, such as formal and informal invitations, RSVP's, letters of condolence and congratulations, and business letters. Her job is lighter than the job of recording secretary, but very important. She is often the one who represents the chapter to people in the community.
One of the really difficult jobs in any chapter or city council is the job of treasurer. It is amazing how often a member elected to the office of treasurer is not really good with numbers and has no experience with bookkeeping at all. It isn't unusual to hear a treasurer admit she has difficulty balancing her own checkbook. To elect such a member to the office of treasurer is almost mean. Treasurer's books for a Beta Sigma Phi chapter or city council should be as simple as possible. They should be kept clear, accurate and up-to-date. The treasurer should have enough time to keep the books day by day rather than try to straighten them out every month or so. Her honesty goes without saying, but she should also be discreet, so that the financial affairs of the chapter and members of the chapter are kept confidential. Nothing can cause more unhappiness for a chapter or a member of your chapter than a treasurer without the talents required for this job.
In a chapter, one of the most neglected offices is that of extension officer. Her chief duty, of course, to lead Friendly Venture projects undertaken by the chapter. Chapters often ignore the office because they do not plan to form a new chapter by Friendly Venture. However, the extension officer can have a tremendous effect in stabilizing the balance of chapters in a city by helping to form Ritual of Jewels chapters which will provide eligible candidates for the Exemplar chapter and other higher degree chapters in time. One or two enthusiastic, capable extension officers in a city can make a big difference. An extension officer's requirements are much the same as ones for vice president; she will be even better off if she has a bit of special organizational talent, the ability to bring people together and help them move forward.
While they are not chapter officers, representatives to city council should be chosen very carefully. They not only need to be able to represent the chapter by being aware of the feelings and opinions and needs of the members of the chapter, they need the capacity to serve as officers and leaders of committees. No one should be sent as a representative to city council who would not be willing to serve in such a capacity and who, in the chapter's opinion, does not have the ability to discharge the duties of a city council office.
The same general qualifications apply for city councils as for chapters. There is an additional consideration; that is, all city council officers should be able to see the wide picture of Beta Sigma Phi in their city, and function not only as representatives of their chapters, but as citywide leaders devoted to the best interests of the community of chapters and members.
For the sake of your chapter, your council and the individuals you will call upon to serve, think carefully before you cast your ballot.