LA in AZ writes:
My chapter is falling apart. Girls hate each other, very few feel they can depend on other girls. It has turned into a high school situation in which theres the “cool” girls with power and then the others. I, as well as my sisters, have lost the love we once had for our chapter and for this organization.
I want to go back to the way i felt in the 8th grade: obsessed with my sister BBGs. It seems that no one LOVES our chapter anymore. We have lost the vital BBG spark we used to once have. Now, with over 10 seniors leaving, i fear my chapter will take a turn for the worse. I see my 40 member chapter dwindle each day and the prospect of our chapter folding is a serious posibility if something doesnt change soon.
What do you suggest we do? What programing have you seen in you time as an advisor that strengthens your chapter’s closeness? Should we just accept that this is what it is and try to do the best with what we have?
I know things seem bleak, but I find grounds for great hope in your words. First, it is not fair to say that no one loves your chapter or that you have lost that vital BBG spark the chapter used to have. It is clear that at least one person, you, does still love your chapter. And it is clear from your words that you carry that spark. And though you may feel you carry it alone, remember that carried within the very nature of each spark is the ability to light a flame. All that flame needs is fuel.
And fuel you have – for even after losing 10 seniors, you have 30 girls who have the potential to bring back that feeling and spirit that you remember.
The question that remains is how to light that fire?
The answer is both simple and hard. There is no magic program or activity that will change things overnight. But the principle of what to do is clear. The way sparks work in communities is through communication. Start by talking about your concerns with individual girls. Share with them your feelings and concerns and ask what they think. I’ll bet you find others who feel as you do. In addition to finding people who will join you in striving to improve things, by sharing your vision and memories of what the chapter can be, you’ll give hope to others (including some of the “outsiders” who may find in your words the hope to stick around and work with you to improve things).
After you’ve spoken to individuals, or small groups of 2 or 3, move up to other ways of communicating. Perhaps a report at a business meeting or event. Perhaps an article in a newspaper.
If you have an advisor, talk to her as well. In addition to providing you with additional insights, she can, through her own interactions with the chapter, reinforce your message. This is the kind of issue where it is difficult for an advisor to take the lead, but very possible for the advisor to play a strong supporting role.
In terms of building chapter closeness, the single best program I’ve seen is a good and welfare – where everyone passes a candle or flashlight around a darkened room and takes turns speaking without interruption. If you have a large group, set a time limit so that everyone has a chance to speak – then go around the circle again if time is available. This is a particularly good event at overnights, or the last event in a sisterhood program.
Best of luck, and do post a note to let me know how things go.