Greek Week (The Pledge Book 1)

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Phi Sigma Kappa's chapter home at Cornell, completed in , is the oldest such house still occupied by its fraternal builders. Sororities originally termed "women's fraternities" began to develop in with the formation of the Adelphean Society Alpha Delta Pi , [12] though fraternity-like organizations for women didn't take their current form until the establishment of Pi Beta Phi in and Kappa Alpha Theta in The term "sorority" was invented by a professor of Latin who felt the word "fraternity" was inappropriate for a group of ladies.

The first organization to use the term "sorority" was Gamma Phi Beta , established in The development of "fraternities for women" during this time was a major accomplishment in the way of women's rights and equality. By mere existence, these organizations were defying the odds; the founding women were able to advance their organizations despite many factors working against them. The first "Women's Fraternities" not only had to overcome "restrictive social customs, unequal status under the law and the underlying presumption that they were less able than men," [14] but at the same time had to deal with the same challenges as fraternities with college administrations.

Today, both social and multicultural sororities are present on more than college campuses across the United States and Canada. In , the Chi Phi fraternity established its Theta chapter at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland , marking the first foray of the American social fraternity outside the borders of the United States. At the time, many students from the American south were moving to Europe to study because of the disrepair southern universities fell into during the American Civil War. One such group of Americans organized Chi Phi at Edinburgh; however, during the Theta chapter's existence, it initiated no non-American members.

Nine years following Chi Phi's abortive colonization of the University of Edinburgh, a second attempt was made to transplant the fraternity system outside the United States. In , Zeta Psi established a chapter at the University of Toronto. Zeta Psi's success at Toronto prompted it to open a second Canadian chapter at McGill University , which it chartered in The first sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta , was established at Toronto in By there were 42 fraternity and sorority chapters at the University of Toronto and of 23 at McGill University.

The arrival of the fraternity system in Asia accompanied the introduction of the American educational system in the Philippines. The first fraternities were established in the University of the Philippines. The first Greek-letter organization and fraternity in Asia, the Upsilon Sigma Phi , was founded in Many early fraternities made reference to Christian principles or to a Supreme Being in general, as is characteristic of fraternal orders.

Due to their exclusion from Christian fraternities in the United States, Jewish students began to establish their own fraternities in the period of and , with the first one being Zeta Beta Tau Although many of the religion-specific requirements for many fraternities and sororities have been relaxed or removed, there are some today that continue to rally around their faith as a focal point, such as Beta Upsilon Chi and Sigma Alpha Omega Numerous Greek organizations in the past have enacted formal and informal prohibitions on pledging individuals of different races and cultural backgrounds.

While these limitations have since been abolished by both the Interfraternity Conference and the National Pan-Hellenic Council , students of various ethnicities have come together to form a council of multicultural Greek organizations. The Multicultural Greek Council, officially formed in , is a coordinating body of 19 Greek organizations, including nine fraternities, and ten sororities with cultural affiliations. Fraternities and sororities traditionally have been single-sex organizations, with fraternities consisting exclusively of men and sororities consisting exclusively of women.

In the United States, fraternities and sororities have a statutory exemption from Title IX legislation prohibiting this type of gender exclusion within student groups, and organizations such as the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee lobby to maintain it. Since the midth century a small number of fraternities, such as Alpha Theta and Lambda Lambda Lambda , have opted to become co-educational and admit female members; however, these generally represent a minority of Greek-letter organizations and no such fraternity is currently a member of the North American Interfraternity Conference, the largest international association of fraternities.

These organizations are similar to "social" fraternities and sororities, with the exception of being coed and non-residential. In , Chi Phi began allowing transgender members, or those identifying as male, to join the social fraternity. In recent years, universities such as Harvard University have begun to eliminate the gender exclusivity that is typically associated with the fraternity and sorority culture.

Harvard University is on the forefront of this movement with other universities looking to follow. Individual chapters of fraternities and sororities are largely self-governed by their active student members; however, alumni members may retain legal ownership of the fraternity or sorority's property through an alumni chapter or alumni corporation. All of a single fraternity or sorority's chapters are generally grouped together in a national or international organization that sets standards, regulates insignia and ritual, publishes a journal or magazine for all of the chapters of the organization, and has the power to grant and revoke charters to chapters.

How Fraternities Work

These federal structures are largely governed by alumni members of the fraternity, though with some input from the active student members. Most Greek letter organizations select potential members through a two-part process of vetting and probation, called rushing and pledging, respectively. During rush recruitment , students attend designated social events, and sometimes formal interviews, hosted by the chapters of fraternities and sororities in which they have particular interest.

Usually, after a potential new member has attended several such events, officers or current members meet privately to vote on whether or not to extend an invitation known as a "bid" to the prospective applicant. Those applicants who receive a bid, and choose to accept it, are considered to have "pledged" the fraternity or sorority, thus beginning the pledge period new member period. Students participating in rush are known as "rushees" Potential New Members "PNMs" while students who have accepted a bid to a specific fraternity or sorority are known as "new members" or in some cases "pledges".

A new member period may last anywhere from one weekend to several months. During this time, new members might participate in almost all aspects of the life of the fraternity or sorority, but most likely not be permitted to hold office in the organization. At the conclusion of the new member period, a second vote of members may sometimes be taken, often, but not always, using a blackball system. New members who pass this second vote are invited to a formal and secret ritual of initiation into the organization, advancing them to full membership.

Many Greek-letter organizations give preferential consideration for pledging to candidates whose parent or sibling was a member of the same fraternity or sorority.

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Such prospective candidates are known as "legacies". Membership in more than one fraternity or sorority is almost always prohibited. Recently, some Greek-letter organizations have replaced the term "pledge" with that of "associate member" or "new member". Sigma Alpha Epsilon , in , abolished pledging altogether.

Potential members are now immediately initiated into the fraternity upon accepting a bid. Unique among most campus organizations, members of social Greek letter organizations often live together in a large house generally privately owned by the fraternity itself, or by the fraternity's alumni association or a distinct part of the university dormitories.


A single undergraduate fraternity chapter may be composed of anywhere between 20 to more than students, though most have an between 35 to 45 members and pledges. Often fraternities and sorority houses called lodges or chapter houses are located on the same street or in close quarters within the same neighborhood, which may be colloquially known as "Greek row" or "frat row". At some, often small, colleges, fraternities and sororities occupy a specific section of university-owned housing provided to them.

Some fraternities and sororities are un-housed, with members providing for their own accommodations. In many of these cases, the fraternity or sorority own or rent a non-residential clubhouse to use for meetings and other activities. With a few exceptions, most fraternities and sororities are secret societies.

While the identity of members or officers is rarely concealed, fraternities and sororities initiate members following the pledge period through sometimes elaborate private rituals, frequently drawn or adopted from Masonic ritual practice or that of the Greek mysteries. At the conclusion of an initiation ritual, the organization's secret motto, secret purpose and secret identification signs, such as handshakes and passwords, are usually revealed to its new members.

Some fraternities also teach initiates an identity search device used to confirm fellow fraternity members. Julian Hawthorne , the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne , wrote in his posthumously published Memoirs [35] of his initiation into Delta Kappa Epsilon : [36]. I was initiated into a college secret society—a couple of hours of grotesque and good-humored rodomontade and horseplay, in which I cooperated as in a kind of pleasant nightmare, confident, even when branded with a red-hot iron or doused head-over heels in boiling oil, [37] that it would come out all right.

The neophyte is effectively blindfolded during the proceedings, and at last, still sightless, I was led down flights of steps into a silent crypt, and helped into a coffin, where I was to stay until the Resurrection Thus it was that just as my father passed from this earth, I was lying in a coffin during my initiation into Delta Kappa Epsilon. Meetings and rituals are sometimes conducted in what is known as a "chapter room" located inside the fraternity's house.

Entry into chapter rooms is often prohibited to all but the initiated. In one extreme case, the response of firefighters to a blaze signaled by an automated alarm at the Sigma Phi chapter house at the University of Wisconsin in was hampered in part because fraternity members refused to disclose the location of the hidden chapter room, where the conflagration had erupted, to emergency responders.

The fraternity or sorority badge is an enduring symbol of membership in a Greek letter organization. Most fraternities also have assumed heraldic achievements. Members of fraternities and sororities address members of the same organization as "brother" in the case of fraternities or "sister" in the case of sororities.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, as in the case of the fraternities Triangle , Acacia , and Seal and Serpent. There are approximately 9 million student and alumni members of fraternities and sororities in North America, or about 3 percent of the total population. Roughly , of the current fraternity and sorority members are students who belong to an undergraduate chapter.

A survey conducted at Princeton University showed that white and higher income Princeton students are much more likely than other Princeton students to be in fraternities and sororities.

Fraternities and sororities - Wikipedia

Since , 63 percent of members of the United States cabinet have been members of fraternities and sororities, and the current chief executive officers of five of the ten largest Fortune companies are members of fraternities and sororities. In addition, 85 percent of all justices of the U. Supreme Court since have been members of fraternities. Bush , George H. Three Prime Ministers of Canada have been members of fraternities. Currently, about 25 percent of members of the U. House of Representatives and 40 percent of members of the U. Senate are members of Greek-letter organizations.

Other notable sorority women include Mariska Hargitay , who is an actress and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation. The IFC said it's now doing a "chapter-by-chapter assessment and charting a safer path forward. Police suspect alcohol was a factor in his death. Trauth suspended all Greek fraternity and sorority activities. The investigation into Ellis' death is still underway and no one has yet been charged. Eleven OSU chapters are under investigation for allegations of hazing and alcohol violations.

IU's Sigma Nu was suspended in October after violating alcohol and hazing policies. The university's Delta Tau Delta chapter was shut down in January following multiple hazing incidents. University of Idaho : UI's sororities and fraternities voted to ban Greek social events involving alcohol indefinitely following reports of hazing, sexual assault and underage drinking at the Moscow, Idaho, school. As she was struggling to get everything done on her overcommitted schedule, she would miss class or pull an all-nighter, and she started to resent being made to feel guilty when she would try to get out of an event.

Leah Jordan, a senior at Georgia State, says she does not know anyone at Alpha Omicron Pi, her former sorority, who skips those events. Jordan says she reached her breaking point at the beginning of sophomore year. Sorority members devote significant time to crafts. We asked readers to share their creations, and received several hundred submissions.

Here, a selection. Attending a fraternity formal? Sorority members decorate coolers for their dates. She painted the university logo on one side, the frat letters and colors on another.

Fraternities and sororities

With an assist from mandatory weekly study hall, members must maintain a minimum grade-point average or are placed on academic probation by the chapter. Miss enough of those weekly meetings or seminal events and risk not only possible fines but exclusion from formal, the semester highlight. Meetings, which run one to two hours, often take place on Sunday nights, leaving members scrambling right before assignments come due, especially if they follow an overnight weekend retreat.

Sorority veterans recommend students do research before joining, to get different perspectives. She acknowledges, however, that freshmen clamoring for a bid can lack the confidence to ask about attendance policies and finances.

Recent News

Gamma Phi Beta chapters are supposed to help with time management skills, she said. Sororities are governed according to their own guidelines, and colleges do not intervene to limit their demands on students. But Ms. She says they could do a much better job reporting what sorority life is like by requiring that each chapter supply recruits with a realistic list of time commitments and average yearly costs. Universities are hesitant to crack down, Ms. Robbins suggests, because Greek alumni have strong bonds to the university and make sizable contributions.

Breaking News Emails

An article on Page 20 this weekend about the time and cost commitment at some sororities misstates part of the name of the university where a former Chi Omega member, Laura Wright, teaches. The article also refers incorrectly to Nicole Davies. In addition, the article refers incorrectly to fund-raising events attended by Leah Jordan as a member of Alpha Omicron Pi.

Her sorority raised money for arthritis; she did not participate in fund-raising events for autism.