The Support Duo: The Importance of the University FSL & Headquarters Relationship

by Nathan Crunkilton

In the dynamic realm of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), the relationship between a university’s FSL office and a fraternity or sorority’s National Headquarters (NHQ)  holds paramount importance. However, fostering a strong alliance between these two entities is not without its challenges, and many times the two parties are unaware of how each is a factor on the other’s effectiveness in their role. Common factors like turnover, limited resources, and the all-too-common “too much on my plate” often hinder the establishment of a dedicated connection between FSL offices and NHQ. By exploring how NHQs can support FSL offices, FSL offices can support NHQs, and how their collaborative relationship can cultivate success for individual chapters and campus communities, both parties can experience the benefit of a symbiotic relationship that supports the chapter.

Most NHQ roles will acknowledge that the University’s FSL office assumes a crucial role in shaping the day-to-day operations of a fraternity or sorority chapter, serving as a vital link between the chapter and its national headquarters. Without partnership and understanding of the influence that a FSL office has directly on a chapter, a vital piece of the “puzzle” is missing. The reality is that many NHQ representatives are working with numerous chapters over a large geographic area, causing them to be limited with face-to-face contact. This leaves the FSL office to become an invaluable extension of the headquarters’ reach to a chapter. With direct contact points, like regular meetings and programs on campus, FSL offices are able, and more likely to identify potential issues for the NHQ that aren’t as present with virtual communications.

Beyond that, they also act as a gateway to comprehending the intricate dynamics of the chapter, its individual leaders, and the unique challenges they encounter that might not be readily apparent from a broader perspective. By bridging this gap, the FSL office provides invaluable insight into the chapter’s day-to-day functioning, ensuring effective communication, and fostering a deeper understanding between the NHQ and the chapter they serve. This insight is valuable in the hands of a NHQ representative, who many times only has a few hours in-person with a chapter, with the challenge of leaving a lasting-impact from their visit.

In the way a FSL office can affect a NHQ, a national office plays a pivotal role in influencing and supporting the work of a FSL office in working with a chapter. One significant way the headquarters affects the FSL office’s job is by setting the tone and providing guidance for the chapter’s operations. The NHQ establishes the overall vision, values, and direction of the fraternity or sorority, which directly impacts the FSL office’s approach in advising and supporting the chapter. Additionally, the NHQ is responsible for informing the FSL office about any changes to national policies, procedures, or initiatives. This ensures that the FSL office stays updated and aligned with the broader organization, enabling them to effectively communicate and implement these changes within the chapter. The NHQ also serves as a valuable resource for the FSL office, providing training, resources, and expertise to enhance their ability to support and develop the chapter. By maintaining a strong partnership, the NHQ and the FSL office can work together harmoniously, promoting a positive and enriching experience for the chapter members.

A positive relationship between a Fraternity and Sorority Life team and National Headquarters has a profound impact on the chapter’s success and overall experience. First, a positive relationship signifies a unified front of support from both stakeholders, demonstrating to the chapter members that they have a strong network of guidance and resources. This unity creates a sense of stability and confidence within the chapter, as they know that their needs and concerns are being heard and addressed at both the local and national levels. It fosters a culture of collaboration and trust, where chapter members feel comfortable reaching out to either the FSL office or their NHQ for assistance and guidance. Furthermore, a positive relationship allows for efficient communication and streamlined decision-making processes. This ensures that important information, updates, and policies are effectively relayed to the chapter, minimizing confusion and promoting clarity, while also promoting a culture for the chapter to feel comfortable with both the University’s FSL office and their NHQs. Ultimately, a positive relationship between the Fraternity and Sorority Life office and the NHQ provides a solid foundation for the chapter’s growth, development, and overall success.

Understanding how both a FSL office and a NHQ partner affect one another, and the chapter they work with, is the crucial first step to building a fruitful relationship between the two parties. Keeping in mind that no two chapters or campuses are alike, effective communication and a shared vision are required between a FSL office and an organization’s HQs. Regular and open communication channels should be established, allowing both parties to exchange information, address concerns, and celebrate achievements, being frank with one another in their analysis of their shared chapter. It is crucial for the FSL office to clearly communicate the priority needs and challenges facing a chapter to the NHQ, ensuring that resources and support can be provided accordingly. Similarly, the NHQ should actively listen to the office’s feedback and insights, considering them, and their campus policies in their decision-making processes. By aligning goals and visions, both the FSL office and NHQ can reinforce the same message to the chapter, fostering consistency and unity. This can be achieved through making it clear to the chapter that a relationship between the two parties exists, having collaborative goal-setting sessions, and the development of a shared strategic plan. By working together, the FSL office and the NHQ can build a strong partnership, supporting the chapter’s success and promoting a positive fraternity/sorority experience.


About the Author:

Nathan Crunkilton currently serves as the Chapter Services Consultant for the West Coast Region of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Service Center. Previously, Nathan has worked in the same role for the Central Region, and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation as the Manager of Recurring Donations. Nathan holds his Bachelors from Winthrop University, and a Master’s of Professional Studies from The George Washington University.

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