all bglo's matter: a black, greek-lettered organization’s guide to running the yard

all bglo's matter: a black, greek-lettered organization’s guide to running the yard

at universities across the world, black greek-lettered organizations (bglo’s) have one ultimate goal, to run the yard (yard = campus). but for more reasons than one, a lot of undergraduate chapters have lost sight of what it actually takes to run the yard. as a result, campus administrators (and even some d9 members) are questioning the legitimacy of these organizations and whether or not they’re still relevant in today’s collegiate climate. note: d9 stands for divine 9, in reference to the 9 black greek lettered organizations (just in case you didn't know.) nevertheless, it’s incumbent upon divine 9 members everywhere to prove that not only are black greek-lettered organizations an asset to the campuses they serve, they’re a necessity in ensuring students of color continue to have representation and safe spaces in which they can bring forth topics of mutual concern.  whether you’re a prophyte or a neo, on the yard or off the yard, check out these thought starters that may be helpful in helping your undergraduate chapter live its best life and avoid campus extinction.

16). maintain superior grades.

scholarship is at the foundation of all the d9 organizations, historically speaking. but today that doesn’t seem to be the case. you can’t call yourself “running the yard” if the university doesn’t even recognize you on the yard because your chapter is inactive due to bad grades. ya’ll can’t be out here having study tables when the chapter’s grade point average indicates the chapter doesn’t even go to class let alone open a book to study. as a student of the university, each member of the chapter should feel personally obligated to keep their grades up. and as a result of their personal commitment to academic success, the chapter will benefit. student, first. greek, second. 

15). be creative with your week.

if your chapter really wants to run the yard, ya’ll will have to give the campus a little more than the typical events you’ve been doing for your week. if you want to start the week out with church, fine. and if you feel compelled to have a bake sale or candy sale, that’s cool or whatever. but understand this – it’s one thing to do the same events for the sake of tradition. it’s another thing if you’re doing the same events… the exact same way… every year. students get tired of seeing the same mediocre week 9 times a semester, assuming you even got the whole divine 9 on your yard (which let’s face it, you probably don’t but still). you get my point. there’s more things that can be done beyond a panel, a party and game night.

14). market your events professionally and creatively.

you have to put some thought behind how you market yourselves. come up with a creative week that the chapter can carry through from start to finish. have your flyers created by someone who actually knows what they are doing because if the flyer is trash, people will interpret the event to be trash, too. and for the love of Christ, stop uploading screenshots of your “notes” on social media to promote chapter events. you gotta keep all of your chapter's marketing initiatives fresh and intriguing because creativity yields engagement. and don't be cheap, either. stop going to whomever the cheapest bidder is at the moment. always go for quality. always go for consistency. does your chapter have a chapter logo? if not, get one. if you do have one, where does it go on your promotional items? is it bottom left? bottom right? top center? what about your color code? what is the specific color your chapter uses (or will use) so that every flyer made on your behalf is the exact same shade? does your chapter have a preferred font type? ya’ll should because all of your marketing materials need to have some sort of underlying consistency.

13). host events outside of your week.

there’s no rule that says you can only host events during your week. things are always happening in culture and sometimes, an opportunity for an impactful event may present itself outside of your week. if that happens, your chapter needs to take that opportunity. otherwise, you limit your chapter’s level of influence if you only do events when it’s “your turn.”

12). use social media to your advantage.

social media is a great tool for your chapter to take advantage of. but it has to be done the right way. within the bio section of all your social media pages, you need to include basic, foundational info about your chapter. things like your chapter’s name, the name of your organization, the school your chapter is at and the date your chapter was established are all pertinent pieces of information. you can choose to write these items in a list or series, or you can put it all in sentence form like:

the (insert name) chapter of (insert organization), incorporated, chartered/founded/established (insert full date) on the campus of (school).

also, establishing a hashtag that your chapter uses with all their posts can be very beneficial as well. just remember to keep your page active often, not just when you’re hosting events. and remember, spellcheck is your friend.

11). maintain relationships with notable people in the administration.

if your chapter makes the right connections on campus, you’ll see the unspoken ways in which your chapter will benefit. don’t underestimate the power of a good network.

10). delegate your chapter’s coverage of the yard.

90% of your chapter’s involvement on campus can’t be in the same organization. the chapter has got to learn to spread yourselves out based on skillset and perceived influence. for starters, you definitely want to have some sort of representation (e-board preferably) on the governing bodies, such as the black student association or the student government association. securing positions in these orgs will not only keep you in the loop regarding changes coming down the pipeline that affect the student body, but it also helps you have more of a handle on making sure students’ voices are heard. that’s critical. but it’s also not enough. your chapter’s influence should stretch across every realm of your yard and you’ve got to be strategic about who you place where. 

9). know how to respond to students interested in your organization.

there’s a time and a place for everything. you have to learn how to talk to people interested in your organization at any given time. nobody will want to be you if they can't stand you. and if you’re not sure, that’s ok. go talk to one of your prophytes before you say something stupid. and if they don’t know, well… that’s an entirely different issue in itself. 

8). establish and maintain healthy relationships with other greek-lettered organizations.

the chapter shouldn’t have any gripes with other greek-lettered orgs on campus, especially if they’re in the divine 9. there’s already enough opposing forces out there against black, greek-lettered organizations. we don’t need that type of hatred coming from within as well. bottom line is, when the d9 is in harmony with each other, the yard benefits. you know what that means? work together. host events together. support one another’s week. and don’t do disrespectful things to one another like throw shade, have events during someone else’s week or worst, have an event on someone else’s founders’ day. that’s just not cool and it’s counterproductive to the mission of these organizations, real talk.

7). stay outta drama.

if you’re a messy person, the yard will classify your entire chapter as being the same way. and nobody likes a messy greek. you should be offering solutions to problems on the yard, not creating them. you can't do that if your name stays attached to drama and mess. 

6). have intake.

there’s power in numbers. there is strength in representation. don’t wait until all of the chapter has graduated. don’t wait until there’s like three people from your chapter left on the yard. get in the habit of having intake routinely and discreetly (it's possible). a good rule of thumb is once a year, depending on your school and the yard’s cultural climate there. figure out what works for your chapter and go from there. you should want your chapter to grow. but at the same time, you also need quality over quantity. that means you have to choose wisely and put actual effort into getting to know the people the chapter is interested in because there’s a fine difference between an interest and someone who is interested. besides, if you pass on the opportunity to have intake, you give up your power to have a say so in the future of your chapter and the continuance of your chapter's traditions. 

5). hold fellow members of your chapter accountable.

don’t be one of those chapters that holds those that are interested in membership to a higher standard than it holds its actual members. you can’t require that all potential members have at least a 3.0 to be considered when your chapter’s median grade point average is a 2.3. you can’t insist that all interests are involved on campus and have leadership positions when nobody in the chapter is involved on campus nor do they have a leadership position. you want quality interests? establish and maintain a quality chapter. set governing rules and stick to them. stop letting each other hop in the stroll line when they don’t even know the stroll because they missed practice. stop letting members get into chapter events for free, drink your liquor and eat your food when they ain’t paid their dues since they crossed. respect the legacy of your chapter and organization enough to keep everyone operating at the best possible version of themselves. that’s a sure way for your chapter to win.

4). be uniform.

beyond flyers and probate videos, dressing alike is a form of branding for your chapter. it’s good to have a few crewnecks, t-shirts, or jackets that everyone in the chapter has and can wear at any given moment. likewise, dressing in a similar theme or tone (even if it's not exactly the same) also shows uniformity and sends a message to the yard that the chapter is a unit, which is a good message to put out. 

3). practice often.

don’t come in the party strolling if ya’ll ain’t practiced no strolls. don’t come to the event chanting if ya’ll don’t know what chant ya’ll doing and who’s kicking it off. don’t hit the stage during intermission if you know ya’ll about to look bogus. choose a step master and a stroll master. sometimes, they’re the same person and sometimes they aren’t. nevertheless, the chapter will should establish an ongoing practice time at least once a month where the members come together to go over strolls, steps and chants – even if there aren’t any upcoming events. if you stay ready, you seldom have to get ready. plus, it’s a great way to bond with the rest of your chapter in an informal setting. 

2). communicate with your prophytes.

presumably, they ran the yard before you. they hosted events, they go into arguments with each other, they navigated the campus, they got uniforms, they visited other schools, they had beef with other orgs on campus and everything else in between. it won’t hurt to keep an open line of communication with your old school in order to get insight on how to handle issues that come up. as you talk to them, you’ll see that some of the things you’re facing may be the very same things they faced when they were in your shoes. your prophytes are a resource. use them. and if you are a prophyte who feels like your chapter can be doing better, help them. they may not ask for it...offer to help anyway.

1). engage with the student body.

the biggest mistake a lot of greeks make is that they either only hang around other people from their chapter, or they only hang with greeks, period. and what they don’t understand is, not only is that lame, it’s also very limiting. you think you’re gonna heighten your influence on campus by only talking and engaging with "regular" students when you’re hosting an event that you want them to come to? nah. it don’t work like that, fam. why? because the yard won’t respect whom they don’t endorse. and if they don’t know you as people, they will never respect you as a greek.

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