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How Do We Turn a Four-Year Experience into a Lifelong One?

By: Scott Fussell, Director of marketing and education at CSL Management

What do you remember most about your collegiate Alpha Chi Omega experience? What were the best times, the most meaningful? Was it the football tailgate? Homecoming? Maybe spring break or that intramural championship? Or were the best times, the most memorable and formative times, the ones you spent in your chapter house talking, connecting, sharing, and caring for and with your sisters? We think we know the answer. And trust us, we won’t tell your intramural chair or song chair that the softball and All-Sing championships have taken a backseat.

We all had critical, caring and comedic moments – the time you helped your sister mend a broken heart, the late-night dream sessions about what’s next or the TV nights you spent jammed 20-wide onto a sectional made for 10. Those were the times that grew us, that cemented our family of choice, that taught us what fraternity and sisterhood – is supposed to look and feel like.

Now think about today’s college student. They’re growing up differently than most of us. We know from books like iGen by Dr. Jean Twenge that many of the students coming to our campuses and moving into our chapter houses today are:

  • Replacing social activities with social media, choosing
  • screen time over face time
  • Growing up less capable of managing traditional life tasks and responsibilities
  • Wanting different things from their lives and careers
  • Obsessing over safety
  • Experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness

Knowing the moments that were most powerful to you, think about the “wheres” and “whos” associated with each of them. Considering what we now know about today’s student – the young women who are your potential members – how relevant do you believe fraternity is today? We’d argue the experience we offer has never been more relevant, more longed for, more needed than it is at this very moment in time. And perhaps unlike any other student organization on our campuses, fraternities and sororities are inherently wired to meet the extraordinary needs of today’s students.

Finding your “squad,” living in community and connectivity, this idea of “village living” is critical to collegians’ wellness and development in and outside the classroom. Providing an environment for those elemental pieces of our developmental puzzle to be connected, nourished and grown is essential for fraternity to be done right.

And while our organizations are uniquely constructed to provide an optimal place for this to occur, it’s important we continuously evaluate the environment where this growth is most likely to be experienced – the chapter house. For it is here, we believe, where “the good stuff” happens.

At CSL Management, we have the pleasure of working with housing staffs, campus professionals and volunteers all over the country, Alpha Chi Omega included. Taking a cue from Maya Angelou and Tony Hsieh, a question we often ask those we serve and support is, “How do you want your members to feel?” Inevitably, we always hear responses like “comfortable,” “connected,” “secure,” “safe,” “trusted,” “in community,” “at home,” “like family.”

So, a few follow-up questions we’d offer for your consideration include…

  • What are you doing inside your chapter facility to meet the unique needs of today’s student?
  • Does your chapter see residents as “live-ins” or paying customers?
  • In what ways does the NHC or your chapter’s LHC provide a world class “customer experience?”
  • How would a shift in how we view, serve, support and care for those living in fundamentally change the way we do business?
  • How are we strategically positioning and designing our homes or chapter experience to meet the mental health needs of our members and creating spaces that enable them to excel academically?
  • What feelings do you wish to intentionally create for your members’ experience?
  • What opportunities already exist and what opportunities can AXΩ create to produce those feelings? (i.e. move-in, move-out, finals week, quiet spaces, dining room device policy, etc.)
  • How would providing an extraordinary customer experience impact the member experience both near and long term? What kind of impact would that have on student and alumnae engagement?

If one of our ultimate goals is to turn a four-year experience into a lifelong one, these are all questions to be considered – questions that the team at Alpha Chi Omega is hard at work on exploring and implementing. So, with all those ideas now swirling about, we want to encourage you to carefully evaluate the customer experience unfolding inside the four walls of your chapter’s home. Think about the brands to which you are fiercely loyal. Think seriously about how they make you feel. Think carefully about what they do to generate those feelings and how they move you from customer to fan to advocate. Then, after you’ve outlined the behaviors and fundamentals those brands demonstrate every day, consider how your Alpha Chi Omega chapter can do the same.

If you need support, know there are resources here to support you. Your National Housing Corporation and partners like our team here at CSL Management are all eager to help you provide a lifechanging experience within your facility. Please remember students have never needed the experience we offer inside our homes more than they do right now. Let’s make sure we’re selling and serving what they’re buying and needing. There are lives to be changed. Let’s go.

 

CSL Management is a property management company that focuses their efforts specifically in the fraternity/sorority housing industry. They partner with Alpha Chi Omega’s National Housing Corporation to oversee daily operations all the way to new construction and renovation projects of the NHC facilities. Scott Fussell is the director of marketing and education at CSL Management.

One thought on “How Do We Turn a Four-Year Experience into a Lifelong One?

  1. Hi Scott,

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful article! As Chapter President of the Epsilon chapter, I firmly agree with the arguments you pose. However, it is sometimes difficult for chapter members to consider the leadership’s intentions as “sisterly” when you consider them a paying customer. How do you believe chapter executive boards can balance between approaching these efforts from a customer perspective and a sister perspective? How can Chapter Presidents and their executive boards demonstrate their efforts to be not only out of desire to improve logistics but to enhance the lifetime experience as well?

    Thank you again for your thoughts!

    Loyally,
    Liz Hannan
    2019 Chapter President of the Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega

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