We Need Better, More Public Online Record-Keeping For Fraternities.
(This post was submitted by Thomas Jackson, a 30-year veteran alumni officer and adviser for his chapter at the University of Minnesota)
Alumni who look up their chapter on the internet are often confounded by the lack of good websites. Older members may want more information than what is offered from a chapter’s Facebook page, and may not use a service like Instagram.
I have seen fraternity Twitter pages last updated five years ago. Alumni grow disconnected as social media evolves because “their” media preferences do not match with how the current chapter communicates. While it may be easy to find a random party photo, more permanent or historical information is lacking.
Here is one solution to this problem:
Using Wikis For Fraternity Information
A number of campuses have their own Wikipedia pages listing current and former Greek chapters. You might find your campus listed among them.
Some of these pages are simple lists, while others provide a wealth of detail about system history, buildings which had housed Greek chapters, dormant chapters (useful for descendants who find grandpa’s old yearbook), or how to connect with a “National HQ” and/or the alumni club.
These pages also tie social fraternities and sororities to awareness of professional, honorary and service chapters as elements of a broader Greek System.
Who Is Looking?
Who pages I curate, for the University of Minnesota Greeks and for Cornell University Greeks, generate up to 300 page views per day. I am convinced that they generate membership, connectivity, and an inspiring historical perspective.
. . . and, who is looking?
- Incoming students, perhaps researching their options. These pages have a huge uptick in readership prior to rush season.
- Chapter members may seek to know more of their own group’s history, unavailable on their chapter’s websites.
- Good students may seek information on an honor society to burnish their resumes.
- Some readers might be alumni looking for information about a chapter or a building. The Minnesota page, for example, has some 460 reference links leading to more information and deeper connections with our “old school” past.
- Modern students looking for connections to their organization’s respective pasts. The more they read, the more these connections grow.
Importantly, we alumni can edit and improve these pages, and need not rely n a slim list of current, favored chapters provided by our schools’ administrations.
I’d encourage you to review or build your own campus page and to look at your own national organization’s page and related list of chapters and noteworthy alumni. The examples listed may provide a template. If you find an alum with the time and talent to improve YOUR pages, the work you do will undoubtedly benefit your chapter and campus.
(This article has been lightly edited for clarity).
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It was exciting to receive this article from Tom, as I had at one point created a website called “wikifrat” with this exact intention in mind. It was a bit too much to take on by myself, but I hope to relaunch the website in the future with a team of contributors ready to create a one-stop internet encyclopedia for Greek Life.
Wikis are an amazing way to maintain historical information, and more organizations should consider utilizing Wikipedia or adding wiki pages to their existing websites to more easily guide members to historical articles, pictures, and resources.