by Nicole Burdick Sanchez, Ph. D., National Vice-President for Colonization and Membership – TBΣ |
The membership education period is a fun and exciting time not only for your membership candidates, but for the active members as well. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into developing the educational aspects as well as Sisterhood, service and fund raising activities throughout the membership education program (MEP).
During the rush process, interested band members are actively seeking to earn a bid into our organization. This is a time when the interested band members need to demonstrate that they exhibit the qualities in which the chapter feels members of Tau Beta Sigma should demonstrate at all times, such as our 5 Qualities and 8 Essential Factors. However, once bids are handed out and accepted, the program mindset within the chapter must change from having band members earn their bid, to helping membership candidates learn and grow within our Sorority.
The focus of the membership education program should to be on maximizing the information that membership candidates learn. The more they learn about our organization – our History, Ideals, and chapter operations – the better prepared the candidates will be once they are initiated as active members and become integral members of the chapter. While activities such as decorating paddles, collecting signatures, and carrying around notebooks are important activities which can instill fundamentals such as Sisterhood and responsibility, it is important that the main focus of the MEP is on activities and tasks that help the candidates learn the information which is necessary for the successful completion of the MEP.
I encourage chapters to take a thorough look at their Membership Education Program. How does it align with Tau Beta Sigma’s Purposes, Ideals, Mission, and Vision? Does each activity that the candidate class completes have an objective or purpose that is aligned with the Sorority’s purposes? How do these activities help the candidates grow into successful members of Tau Beta Sigma? Now this isn’t to say that activities such as collecting active member signatures or interviews do not align with our Sorority’s purposes. These activities are important in that they help candidates get to know their Sisters. However, chapters need to be comfortable with the balance between requirements such as signatures and interviews compared to tests and service activities. Do candidates get more credit for getting signatures or for doing a candidate class service project or passing a candidate exam? Which activities are going to have more merit to the candidates once they become active members? These are critical questions to ask while developing your chapter’s MEP.
Once you have your MEP established it is important for your chapter to review it every year and see if there is anything that needs to be tweaked or changed. Get feedback from the most recent candidates and ask if there is anything they would like to have done different or information they wished they had learned. Also, don’t forget about the resources you have available when developing and (or) revising your MEP. Not only are there several documents available online at www.tbsigma.org, but your District Councils, District Counselors, and National Council are all available to answer questions and offer feedback. Together we can help develop and maintain successful membership education programs that help to build stronger chapters.