Founded in 1909, the North-American Interfraternity Conference is the trade association for International and National Men's Fraternities. Through advocacy, collaboration, and education, the NIC works to ensure that fraternities can operate in an environment conducive to their success. Membership in the NIC is available to all fraternities that meet the standards of the conference.
Efforts in the area of advocacy have taken on new relevance in the wake of several recent high profile cases. The advocacy efforts of the NIC exist to promote the fraternity experience within higher education, our primary field of operation, and also to the outside stakeholders whose perceptions often have an impact on success.
The NIC Board of Directors has established the following Ends
The NIC exists to facilitate, encourage and promote success of member fraternities.
1. Members operate in an environment in which they can thrive
a. Advocates on members' behalf regarding recruitment of students free from host institution and/or IFC restrictions
b. Advocates on members' behalf regarding chapter expansion free from host institution and/or IFC restrictions
c. Educates host institutions and public decision makers of the effects of their decisions on member fraternities
i. Members and higher education are made aware of fraternity trends based on research to demonstrate the value of fraternities to the host institution and society
ii. Lawmakers will be educated on the issues critical to the fraternal movement
d. Educate the general public on the value of fraternity
2. There is a recognizable sign that each member meets minimum standards regarding their chapters' operational performance
3. Member fraternities find it to their advantage and have the skills to operate in a constructive manner
a. Member fraternity leaders have organizational leadership and advocacy skills
b. Members of member fraternities have skills related to social change at a total cost to be borne by the users
The NIC will continue to promote fraternity within the environments and to the audiences which have the ability to influence industry success
The primary environments in which fraternities operate are colleges and universities. The 800+ institutions across North America are a general audience with the Vice President for Student Affairs and the fraternity/sorority professional as the specific stakeholders. The NIC will continue to utilize a network of relationships, inter/national conferences and workshops, and various forms of media to ensure that our message continues to reach those critical partners.
The NIC regularly monitors media outlets for stories related to fraternity. Additionally, the NIC provides an industry spokesperson for national, regional, and local outlets. The media as a stakeholder will always be an important target for NIC advocacy efforts.
Ensuring that the real story of fraternity is available to key targets such as college bound high school seniors and their parents via social media, personal testimonials, and promotional pieces are an ever expanding piece of the NIC's advocacy initiatives.
Member fraternities should maintain regular communication with their chapters related to media relations, and crisis management. While the NIC advocates for the industry within the media, today's twenty-four hour news cycle is a complex and can be a dangerous environment for the unprepared or untrained. Fraternities should provide regular media training for: all staff members who have media interaction, undergraduate leadership who may be required to make statements to media in both crisis and regular interactions; alumni advisors; etc.
NIC regularly engages with member fraternities regarding major new stories. NIC will closely monitor fraternity response and play a supporting role to the fraternity; however, if a fraternity fails to respond, NIC will take the primary chair.
Government (local, state, federal)
The NIC has a long tradition of involvement within local, state, and federal government. Not only do fraternity members comprise a large percentage of elected officials in each level of government, the policy agenda of the fraternal movement has been advanced further as a result the relationships that have been built over time and through the work of the NIC and its member fraternities. Government relations will continue to be one of the most important areas of advocacy for the NIC, both in the short and long term.
At the federal level, NIC is represented by Patton Boggs, LLP, with Kevin O'Neill as our designated partner. Patton Boggs advises the NIC Board's Legislative Committee to establish our federal agenda.
State and local issues are monitored and dealt with on a case by case basis.
Men's fraternities do not exist or act in solitude. The NIC recognizes the importance of harnessing the collective influence of other umbrella advocacy groups while advancing the interests of fraternity. The NIC's ability to serve as an advocate is augmented by partnering with those groups who have similar interests. The NIC will continue to partner with those organizations which seek to advance the growth and prosperity of the fraternal movement.
Associations with include, but not be limited to: NPC, NPHC, NALFO, NMGC, NAPA, FEA, and the Coalition Assessment Project.
Interfraternity councils (IFC's)
Local IFC's have the ability to serve as one of the strongest advocates for the fraternal movement at the campus level. The NIC will continue to offer resources, support, and educational programming for councils. There are occasions when the NIC must intervene in cases where a local IFC is operating outside of compliance with the NIC Standards. Whenever intervention measures are taken, the NIC will communicate to member fraternities the nature of the complaint and appropriate next steps to ensure a timely resolution.
NIC member fraternities are encouraged to provide regular education on the role, responsibilities, and function of a campus IFC.
The potential joiner and his parents
These stakeholders represent a major target in the NIC's advocacy efforts. The NIC will continue to ensure that the real story about fraternity membership is available and, whenever possible, promoted to the next generation of joiner. It is important to also target the parents of today's potential joiner. Research tells us that the parents are more involved than ever in the day to day decisions their son makes.
The efforts of NIC member fraternities related to addressing dysfunctional behavior, promoting the real story of fraternity, and delivering on the promised benefits of membership are all areas of importance which the NIC promotes in its advocacy efforts.
NIC will engage in legal action when appropriate
In order to protect the rights of fraternities and to ensure the future success of the fraternal movement, NIC will engage in legal action on behalf of its member fraternities when appropriate.
The NIC Legal Fund will be engaged when appropriate; however, those funds are limited and are mostly intended to provide support for individual member fraternities at the end of their legal action.
NIC dues/resources are not sufficient to support projected costs of the number of current situations that may require legal action by the NIC in support of member fraternities' rights.
Advocacy efforts will be funded through dues
Funding for most advocacy efforts will be funded through NIC membership dues. As advocacy needs grow, so will the needs for resources. Since current staffing levels of the NIC are not sufficient to handle the increased advocacy needs, financial resources will be required for the addition of at least one experienced/senior staff member. Increased advocacy will also require significant travel, office, management, and legal expenses. Projected increase in annual expenses for future advocacy needs is estimated at approximately $150,000 annually, not including any potential litigation needs.
Advocacy is not a single project
An effective advocacy campaign is not conducted in a silo, nor is it a single project. The NIC will continue to collaborate with partners, educate stakeholders about the benefits of fraternity membership, and advocate for the fraternal movement. Everything that NIC engages in, including education, is centered around advocacy.
It is important that NIC member fraternities support the NIC advocacy efforts through their continued promotion of those behaviors which are reflective of the best tradition of excellence of their organizations and immediately and effectively address situations that occur which are contrary to those traditions. This will increase NIC advocacy effectiveness.