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Greek Life on College Campuses

November 15, 2010 / Posted by in Blog

Greek organizations have been around since the 1770s. They are usually single-sex groups of which members are active during their undergraduate years and continue to be members throughout their lives. There are also organizations that are historically black, Latino, Asian, and multicultural—some of which may include both sexes. Certain Greek organizations are established for specific religious or ethnic groups such as Alpha Chi Rho (founded as a Christian group) and Zeta Beta Tau (a historically Jewish fraternity).

The recruitment process varies from university to university. Organizations governed by the National Panhellenic Conference or the North-American Interfraternity Conference begin the process with “rush week”. Rush consists of events and meetings where students can visit the chapter house and meet the members. At rush, new members are asked if they are a legacy. A “Legacy” is somebody whose family member (mother, father, brother, sister) was a member of the organization. Some chapters automatically accept legacies, but not everyone still honors the legacy system. At the end of rush week, new recruits are given “bids,” which are invitations to join a chapter. Students choose one bid to accept and that choice marks the beginning of the pledging process. Pledging does vary, but most Greek organizations are trying to get rid of the negative connotation people have about the process. Hazing is taken much more seriously than it has been in the past, and students face harsh punishments for breaking hazing policies.

A Greek organization that is located on one campus is considered “local”, while an organization that is “national” has many chapters all across the nation. The central offices of the organizations are called “Nationals” and can standardize rules and regulations for their chapters. Generally, they delegate the rules to the executive officers of each chapter house. The executive officers include a President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc.; students that were elected by their peers within the organization hold these offices.

On many college campuses, Greek organizations live together in a chapter house. Organizations with national presence will have rules set in place that are generally enforced by a “house mom or house dad” which the national offices hire and pay. Such rules could include the prohibition of alcohol and visitor restrictions. These chapter houses are basically dorms for the members of the organizations. They can sometimes include dining facilities for the members.

Most Fraternities and Sororities maintain traditions that began when they were founded: ceremonies, initiations, songs, handshakes, mottos, and passwords. Most groups swear all members to secrecy during initiation, and these rituals are kept undisclosed. Fraternities and Sororities also have distinct motifs to represent themselves such as colors, flags, flowers, pins, crests, seals, and even mascots.

Philanthropy is a huge part of Greek life. Each organization supports a cause, and many have long-term relationships with large national charities. For example, Chi Omega supports the Make-A-Wish foundation, while Delta Delta Delta is partnered with St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

There are common controversies about Greek life, including the issues of hazing, alcohol abuse, and exclusion. While the National Panhellenic Conference, the North-American Interfraternity Conference, and various universities have strict, no-hazing policies, most incidents go unreported because Greek life organizations are secretive in nature. There are many benefits to going Greek; joining an organization can provide networking and social connections for members throughout their entire lives. Many members remain involved in Greek life years after they have completed college; some even take positions with the national offices of their chapter.

Some interesting facts about fraternities and sororities:
-25 US Presidents have belonged to Greek organizations
-85% of the Fortune 500 executives are members of Greek organizations


  1. Can you provide more information on this? cheers

  2. maria andros says:

    Really nice post,thank you

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