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Fraternities and sororities in North America

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Title: Fraternities and sororities in North America  
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Language: English
Subject: History of North American fraternities and sororities, List of social fraternities and sororities, Delta Xi Phi, Sigma Delta Tau, Phi Kappa Theta
Collection: Fraternities and Sororities
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Fraternities and sororities in North America

Fraternities and sororities in North America are

Generally, membership in a fraternity or sorority is obtained while an undergraduate student but continues, thereafter, for life. While individual fraternities and sororities vary in exact organization and purpose, most share five common elements: (1) secrecy, (2) single-sex membership, (3) selection of new members on the basis of a two-part vetting and probationary process known as rushing and pledging, (4) ownership and occupancy of a residential property at which the undergraduate members of the fraternity or sorority live, (5) use of a set of complex identification symbols including Greek letters, armorial achievements, ciphers, badges, grips, handsigns, passwords, flowers, and colors.

Fraternities and sororities engage in philanthropic activities, often host parties and other events that place them at the social epicenter of life on a university campus, sometimes provide "finishing" training for new members, such as instruction on etiquette, dress, and manners, and create networking and career opportunities for their newly graduated members.


  • History 1
    • Establishment and early history 1.1
    • Sororities 1.2
    • Internationalization 1.3
    • Multicultural Fraternities and Sororities 1.4
  • Structure and organization 2
    • Common elements 2.1
      • Gender exclusivity 2.1.1
      • Governance 2.1.2
      • Rushing and Pledging (Recruitment and New Member Periods) 2.1.3
      • Residency 2.1.4
      • Secrecy and ritual 2.1.5
      • Symbols and naming conventions 2.1.6
    • Activities 2.2
    • Membership profile 2.3
      • Demographics 2.3.1
      • Notable fraternity and sorority members 2.3.2
    • Academic performance 2.4
    • Alcohol 2.5
    • Elitism 2.6
    • Professional Advancement 2.7
    • Hazing 2.8
    • Nepotism and networking 2.9
    • Personal fulfillment 2.10
    • Sexism 2.11
  • Glossary 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • References 5


Establishment and early history

The fraternity system in North America began at the College of William and Mary in 1750.

The first fraternity in North America to incorporate most of the elements of modern fraternities was Kappa Alpha Society, the oldest extant fraternity to retain its social characteristic, was established at Union College. In 1827, Sigma Phi and Delta Phi were also founded at the same institution.[1]

Fraternities represented the intersection between dining clubs, literary societies, and secret initiatory orders such as Freemasonry. Their early growth was widely opposed by university administrators, though the increasing influence of fraternity alumni, as well as several high-profile court cases, succeeded in largely muting opposition by the 1880s.[1] The first fraternity meeting hall or lodge seems to have been that of the Alpha Epsilon chapter of Chi Psi at the University of Michigan in 1845, leading to a tradition in that fraternity to name its buildings "lodges." As fraternity membership was punishable by expulsion at many colleges at this time, the house was located deep in the woods.[2] The first residential chapter home to be built by a fraternity is believed to have been Alpha Delta Phi's chapter at Cornell, with groundbreaking dated to 1878.[3] Alpha Tau Omega became the first fraternity to own a residential house in the South when, in 1880, its chapter at the University of the South acquired one.[4] Chapters of many fraternities followed suit, purchasing and less often, building them with support of alumni. Phi Sigma Kappa's chapter home at Cornell, completed in 1902, is the oldest such house still occupied by its fraternal builders.[5]


Sororities (originally termed "women's fraternities") began to develop in 1851 with the formation of the Adelphean Society,[6] though fraternity-like organizations for women didn't take their current form until the establishment of Pi Beta Phi in 1867, which was followed closely by Kappa Alpha Theta in 1870. The term "sorority" was invented by a professor of Latin who felt the word "fraternity" was inappropriate for a group of ladies.[7]

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"[8] 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 650 college campuses across the United States and Canada. The [9]


In 1867 the

  1. ^ a b c d e Whalen, Richard (1967). Handbook of Secret Organizations. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company. pp. 43–45. 
  2. ^ Birdseye, Clarence Frank (1907), Individual Training in Our Colleges, New York: The McMillan Company, p. 211, retrieved 2008-06-20 
  3. ^ Chapter History, accessed 16 October 2015. The chapter has since moved to larger quarters.
  4. ^ "ATO Facts & Firsts". Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Gamma Chapter history, accessed 16 October 2015.
  6. ^ Alpha Delta Pi, while The Philomathean, begun in 1852, eventually became Phi Mu. Together, these sororities are known as the "Macon Magnolias." Several other unrelated "Philomathean Societies" emerged during the 19th Century, most notably a literary society at UPenn and another, unrelated, at NYU.
  7. ^ a b Anson, Jack (1991). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (20th Edition). Bairds Manual Foundation. p. III-32.  
  8. ^ "Adventure in Friendship: A History of The National Panhellenic Conference" (PDF). National Panhellenic Conference. National Panhellenic Conference. Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  9. ^  
  10. ^ "Fraternities in Canada". The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II. University Associates of Canada. 1948. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  11. ^ "History of MGC". Multicultural Greek Council. Multicultural Greek Council. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "EMERGENCE OF MULTICULTURAL FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS". National Multicultural Greek Council. National Multicultural Greek Council. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Why One School Decided To Make All Of Its Fraternities And Sororities Co-Ed".  
  14. ^ a b "Fraternities Lobby Against Campus Rape Investigations".  
  16. ^ "ERM, ORSA and Corporate Governance: The Small Company Challenges". First Consulting. 
  17. ^ a b "Rush and Pledging Problems". The Fraternity Advisor. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Glossary of Greek Life Terms". George Mason University Interfraternity Council. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Fraternity Legacies". The Fraternity Advisor. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Deadliest U.S. Fraternity Abolishes Pledging for New Members".  
  21. ^ Dundes, Allan (1993). Folklore Matters. University of Tennessee Press. p. 31.  
  22. ^ "Books: Hawthorne's Line".  
  23. ^ Matthews, Jack (August 15, 2010). "Nathaniel Hawthorne's Untold Tale". Excerpts from  
  24. ^ Matthews, Jack (August 15, 2010). "Nathaniel Hawthorne's Untold Tale". The Chronicle Review. Retrieved 2010-08-17. This was, of course, all very collegiate for that long-ago time, and—with the exception of the "red-hot iron" and "boiling oil" references, if taken too literally—quite typical. 
  25. ^ "Bizarre fire burns frat house; blaze startedin secret room". Journal Times. 27 September 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  26. ^ Konnikova, Maria (21 February 2014). "18 U.S. Presidents Were in College Fraternities".  
  27. ^ "Fraternity Statistics".  
  28. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (25 July 2013). "FratPAC Lobbies Congress For Tax Breaks, To Stop Anti-Hazing Law".  
  29. ^ "Kappa Kappa Gamma | Famous Fraternity Brothers & Sorority Sisters | XFINITY". Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  30. ^ "Sophia Bush x Joe Fresh Exclusively for HRC". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  31. ^ "Our Story". Joyful Heart Foundation. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  32. ^ Jacobs, Peter (8 January 2014). "Don't Ban Fraternities".  
  33. ^ "Binge Drinking in Greek Organizations". Addiction Center. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  34. ^ Springmeier, Fritz. "College Fraternities Linked to Freemasonry".  
  35. ^ "Princeton's Fraternities Growing". New York Times. November 28, 1993. pp. Section 1 Page 56. Retrieved May 31, 2009. 
  36. ^ Fletcher, Robert Samuel (1943). A History of Oberlin College from Its Foundation Through the Civil War. Oberlin College.  "Revised codes were issued every few years, but not many important changes were made in them. Provisions with regard to the hours of 'athletic exercises and sport' were added in 1847. In the same revision there appeared for the first time the 'peculiar' Oberlin rule against secret societies. 'No student,' it runs, 'is permitted to join any secret society, or military company.'"
  37. ^ Student Regulations, Policies, and Procedures, Oberlin College 2011–2012 (PDF). Oberlin College. 2011. p. 34.  D. Secret Societies: "No secret society is allowed at Oberlin, and no other societies or self-perpetuating organizations are allowed among students, except by permission of the faculty. This is to be understood to include social and rooming-house clubs."
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Community Life". 
  40. ^ "2007-2008 Rights & Responsibilities Handbook, Appendix B: University Policy on Fraternities and Sororities". Brandeis University. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  41. ^ "Fraternity Facts —". Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  42. ^ "Fraternity and Sorority Membership Linked to Higher Well-Being for College Grads". Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  43. ^ "Fraternal Law » Anti-Hazing Hotline". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  44. ^ "National Hazing Prevention Week | Hazing Prevention". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  45. ^ Abelson, Max (22 December 2014). "Secret Handshakes Greet Frat Brothers on Wall Street".  
  46. ^ Nelson, Libby (28 May 2014). "Sorry, nerds: Fraternity brothers have more fulfilling lives later on".  
  47. ^ Syrett, Nicholas (6 May 2011). "Colleges Condone Fraternities' Sexist Behavior".  
  48. ^ Bennett, Jessica (3 December 2014). "The Problem With Frats Isn't Just Rape. It's Power.".  
  49. ^ a b c d e "Greek Terminology". Florida Institute of Technology. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  50. ^ a b c d e f "Fraternity/Sorority Terms".  


  • The 1978 comedy movie National Lampoon's Animal House portrayed members of a fictitious fraternity (Delta Tau Chi) at a fictitious college.
  • The 1984 comedy movie black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda) and the change in power from the jocks and cheerleaders to the nerds. The co-ed fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda takes their name from the fraternity in this movie.
  • The 1994 comedy movie PCU also portrays members of a student group at a fictitious college where fraternities have been prohibited.
  • The 2003 comedy movie "Old School" portrays a fictional fraternity created by aging men at their alma mater.
  • The 2006 film Stomp the Yard depicts African American Greek life centered around the tradition of stepping, made popular by Black Greek Letter Organizations.
  • The 2006 film Accepted includes a fictional fraternity (Beta Kappa Epsilon) which Sherman Schrader attempts to become a part of because his father is a member.
  • The 2007–2011 ABC Family television series Greek depicts students of the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University (CRU) who participate in the school's Greek system.
  • The 2007 film American Pie Presents: Beta House where new college freshman try to gain eligibility to the Beta House fraternity.
  • The 2007 film Sydney White uses the sorority system and how it affects social dynamics to tell the classic fairy tale of Snow White in the modern day.
  • The 2009 slasher film Sorority Row features the sorority 'Theta Pi' in which Audrina Patridge's character was one of their members.
  • The 2009 movie Sorority Wars revolves around sorority experience in college.
  • The 2010 television series Glory Daze depicts students of the fictional Hayes University who participate in the school's Greek system.
  • The 2010 film Brotherhood directed by Will Canon depicts hazing which gets out of hand.
  • The main plot point of the 2013 movie Monsters University is a competition between fictitious fraternities and sororities to determine the best scarers.
  • The 2014 film Neighbors pitches a fraternity house against a young family in a battle of hearts and minds.
  • The 2015 Fox television series Scream Queens is centered on a series of murders involving the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority.

In popular culture

  • Active - an initiated, undergraduate student member of a fraternity or sorority[49]
  • Alumna - a member of a sorority who is no longer an undergraduate student, and no longer resides in the sorority house[50]
  • Alumnus - a member of a fraternity who is no longer an undergraduate student, and no longer resides in the fraternity house[50]
  • Bid - an offer to become a pledge (see below) of a fraternity or sorority[49]
  • Chapter room - a room inside a fraternity house, often secret or hidden, where meetings of actives occur and where rituals are performed [50]
  • Colony - a newly established chapter of a national/international fraternity or sorority in the process of organization[50]
  • Local - a fraternity or sorority with only one chapter[50]
  • National / International - a fraternity or sorority with two or more chapters, both of which are in the same nation (in the case of a national), or at least one of which is in a different nation from the others (in the case of an international)[50]
  • Pledge - a probationary member of a fraternity or sorority, sometimes also called "associate member" [49]
  • Rush - the process of recruitment to a fraternity or sorority[49]
  • Rushee - one who is in the process of seeking a bid[49]
Alumni members of the Miami University chapter of Sigma Chi, plus one unknown woman, pose for a photograph at a 1909 reunion.


Nicholas Syrett, a professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado, has been a vocal critic of the evolution of fraternities in the 20th century. Syrett has stated that "fraternal masculinity has, for at least 80 years, valorized athletics, alcohol abuse and sex with women."[47] TIME Magazine columnist Jessica Bennett has denounced fraternities as breeding "sexism and misogyny that lasts long after college." In her column, Bennett complains that, while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California doormen at fraternity parties "often ranked women on a scale of one to 10, with only "sixes" and up granted entry to a party."[48]


[46] A 2014

Personal fulfillment

Critics of Greek-letter organizations claim they create a culture of nepotism in later life, while supporters have applauded them for creating networking opportunities for members after graduation. A 2013 report by Bloomberg found that fraternity connections are influential in obtaining lucrative employment positions at top Wall Street brokerages. According to that story, recent graduates have been known to exchange the secret handshakes of their fraternities with executives whom they know to be fraters as a means of obtaining access to competitive appointments.[45]

Nepotism and networking

In 2007, an anti-hazing hotline was set up to report incidents of hazing on college campus'. Currently 46 national fraternity and sorority organizations support the toll-free number which generates automatic email messages regarding hazing and sends them to the national headquarters directly from the National Anti-Hazing Hotline.[43] Every year during the last week of September is considered to be National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW). From, "NHPW is an opportunity for campuses, schools, communities, organizations and individuals to raise awareness about the problem of hazing, educating others about hazing, and promoting the prevention of hazing. HazingPrevention.Org™ is the organizer of National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW)."[44]

Supporters of fraternities note that hazing is almost universally prohibited by national fraternity organizations, and the occurrence of hazing in undergraduate fraternity chapters goes against official policy. Supporters of fraternities also note that hazing is not unique to Greek-letter organizations and is often reported in other student organizations, such as athletic teams.

A depiction of fraternity hazing from the early 20th century.

Fraternities, and to a much lesser extent sororities, have been criticized for hazing sometimes committed by active undergraduate members against their chapter's pledges. Hazing during the pledge period can sometimes culminate in an event commonly known as "Hell Week" in which a week-long series of physical and mental torments are inflicted on pledges. Common hazing practices include sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, paddling, use of stress positions, forced runs, busy work, and mind games. Rarer incidents involving branding, enemas, urination on pledges, and the forced consumption of spoiled food have been reported. Hazing in many cases has been reported and has lead to the permanent disposal of particular chapters of fraternities and sororities across the country.


Many members of Greek Life have achieved tremendous success in life after school. 43 of the nation's 50 largest corporation heads are Greek members along with 40 of the last 47 Supreme Court justices.[41] Greek members "are more likely to be thriving in their well-being and engaged at work than college graduates who did not go Greek." according to a study done by Gallup and the University of Purdue.[42] Greek organizations allow members to gain networking opportunities with fellow active and alumni sisters and brothers across the world.

Professional Advancement

[40] Some colleges and universities have banned Greek letter organizations with the justification that they are, by their very structure, set up to be elitist and exclusionary. The most famous, and oldest ban was at

Some popular conspiracy theories allege fraternities represent a secret hand that undemocratically influences or controls public policy in the United States and Canada. [34]


Fraternity members are "much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than their non-Greek affiliated peers." One Harvard University study found that "4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers."[33]


A fraternity member with bottles of malt liquor affixed to each of his hands with duct tape vomits into a box of breakfast cereal.

Studies have found that university graduation rates are 20% higher among members of Greek-letter organizations than among non-members and students who are members of fraternities and sororities typically have higher-than-average grade point averages. One reason for this is many chapters require their members to maintain a certain academic standard.[32]

Academic performance

A newly initiated member of the Delta Upsilon chapter at Boise State University receives the fraternity's badge.

Supporters of Greek letter organizations point to high academic and social indicators among members, and greater than normal community involvement by student and alumni of fraternities and sororities.

Greek letter organizations have often been characterized as elitist or exclusionary associations, organized for the benefit of a largely upper middle class to upper class, typically Caucasian, membership base. Fraternities specifically have been criticized for what is perceived as their promotion of an excessively alcohol-fueled, party-focused, and oversexed lifestyle.

Value and criticism

Actress Sophia Bush was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Southern California and has since gone on to further her career in television and receive the Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality Award. Other notable sorority women include Mariska Hargitay, who is an actress and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation.[29][30][31]

[28] Currently about 25-percent of members of the

Since 1900, 63-percent of members of the Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and Franklin Roosevelt. Three Prime Ministers of Canada have been members of fraternities.[26][27]

Notable fraternity and sorority members

Ronald Reagan was initiated into Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale University.

A detailed study the same year at the University of Arizona found 67.5 percent of GLO members at that school were Caucasian, relative to a campus population of 51.1 percent. That same study also found fraternity members at Arizona were twice as likely to identify with the Republican Party than non-members, and were about twice as likely to be involved in athletics or other campus activities as non-members. More than 4 percent of GLO members surveyed at Arizona participated in activities sponsored by the university's LGBTQ club, compared to a general student involvement level of about 1 percent. Fraternity and sorority members at the University of Arizona were also more likely to be the children of university graduates than non-members, and generally reported higher family incomes.

A 2010 survey conducted by Princeton University, however, found that only 77 percent of sorority members and 73 percent of fraternity members at that school were Caucasian, roughly equal to the population at large.

A limited 2010 study of fraternity chapters at eight east coast schools conducted by the University of Connecticut found that about 96 percent of student members were Caucasian.

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 750,000 of the current fraternity and sorority members are students who belong to an undergraduate chapter.


Membership profile

Alumni members of fraternities, often organized into alumni chapters or alumni clubs, also host social events for their own members, including dinners, golf tournaments, and lectures. Alumni and active members of a fraternity will often come together one or more times each year for joint events such as Homecoming receptions or formal banquets on the anniversary of the founding of the fraternity or sorority.

Many universities which are host to fraternities and sororities have an annual event called "Greek Week" which is a series of athletic and cultural competition between all of the fraternities and sororities present on that campus.

Members of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at the College of Charleston compete in a charity dodge ball tournament in 2010.

In addition to organizational and associative activities, fraternities (and, less often, sororities) frequently host parties that place them at the epicenter of social life on a university campus. Fraternities and sororities also organize "brotherhoods" (in the case of fraternities) and "sisterhoods" (in the case of sororities), which are social events limited to the active members of a chapter, such as camping trips, formal dinners, and sporting events.


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). The names of almost all fraternities and sororities consist of a sequence of two or three Greek letters, for instance, Delta Delta Delta, Sigma Chi, Chi Omega, or Psi Upsilon. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, as in the case of the fraternities Acacia and Seal and Serpent.[1]

Symbols and naming conventions

A "model chapter room" of Kappa Sigma.

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 2003 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.[25]

A dramatized depiction of a fraternity initiation ritual.
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,[24] 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.

Julian Hawthorne, the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote (in his posthumously published Memoirs[22]) of his fraternal initiation:[23]

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 fraters.[21]

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.[1]

Secrecy and ritual

The Zeta Psi chapterhouse at Lafayette College.
The Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter house at the University of Illinois.

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 100 students, though most have an average of about 35 to 45 members and pledges. Often fraternities and sorority houses (called lodges or chapter houses) will be 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 will 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 will own or rent a non-residential clubhouse it will use for meetings and other activities.


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 2012, abolished pledging altogether. Potential members are now immediately initiated into the fraternity upon accepting a bid.[17][20]

Many Greek-letter organizations give preferential consideration for pledging to candidates whose father or brother or, in the case of sororities, mother or sister was a member of the same fraternity or sorority. Such prospective candidates are known as "legacies."[18][19]

The chapterhouse of Alpha Delta Phi at Cornell University.

[1] A new member period may last anywhere from one weekend to several months. During this time new members will participate in almost all aspects of the life of the fraternity or sorority, but will not be permitted to hold office in the organization. At the conclusion of the new member period a second vote of members may be taken, often using a

"My Name is Sigma Chi, Sir," a traditional Sigma Chi song written in 1885 by Charles Eldridge (sample)
"Delta Upsilon Ode," a traditional Delta Upsilon song written in 1884 by Edward La Wall Seip (sample)

Most Greek letter organizations select potential members through a two-part process of vetting and probation, called rushing and pledging, respectively (the terms Recruitment and New Member Period are more acceptable today). 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 will 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 "PNM's") while students who have accepted a bid to a specific fraternity or sorority are known as "new members" or in some cases "pledges."[17]

Rushing and Pledging (Recruitment and New Member Periods)

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. These federal structures are largely governed by alumni members of the fraternity, though with some input from the active (student) members.[15][16]


[14][13] Since the mid 20th century a small number of fraternities, such as

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 enjoy a statutory exemption from Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee work to maintain this status quo in federal law.[13][14]

Members of a sorority pictured in 2012. In general, sorority membership is limited to women, while fraternity membership is limited to men.

Gender exclusivity

Common elements

Structure and organization

The first multicultural sorority, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc was established in November 1981 at [12] The formation of this Greek organization allowed for the emergence of a multicultural fraternity and sorority movement, giving birth to a multicultural movement.

[11] 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

Multicultural Fraternities and Sororities

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 1879 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 1883. Other early foundations were Kappa Alpha Society at Toronto in 1892 and at McGill in 1899, and Alpha Delta Phi at Toronto in 1893 and at McGill in 1897. The first sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, was established at Toronto in 1887. By 1927 there were 42 fraternity and sorority chapters at the University of Toronto and of 23 at McGill University. A few chapters were also reported at the University of British Columbia, Carleton University, Dalhousie University, University of Manitoba, Queen's University, University of Western Ontario Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Brock University.[10]

U.S. Army soldiers, presumably alumni members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, display that fraternity's flag in Iraq in 2009.


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