Ohio University

Information for Parents and Families

My Student is Thinking of Joining a Sorority/Fraternity

The hard part is done. Your student has chosen a college – and a good one at that. Welcome to the Bobcat family. Now your student will have many opportunities ahead of them as they learn to navigate campus, classes and life.

It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed in this new environment and the search for a sense of community. Some students will explore joining club sports, while some students may choose to get involved in their residence halls. But some may choose to join a fraternity or sorority. By joining a sorority or fraternity, your student is joining hundreds of other students who can offer an environment of friendship and familiarity.

Ohio University’s priority is the safety and well-being of all students and new measures announced in January 2020 focus on that goal. In addition, the University is committed to fostering the positive aspects of fraternities and sororities, such as leadership, character, responsibility, academics, and social justice.

Ohio students can join our sororities and fraternities within their first semester,* as we believe affiliating with a social-Greek letter organization is a good opportunity to find a sense of belonging and to help with retention within the first year.

Overall, the members in fraternities and sororities are committed to their academics, volunteer their time in the community, develop and strengthen their leadership skills, and form a campus network with other sorority and fraternity members.

*Students must have earned at least 12 hours to join organizations in NPHC and Alpha Psi Lambda.

 

How will joining a sorority or fraternity affect my student’s academic pursuits?

Sororities and fraternities serve as a great resource for students academically. Through comprehensive academic programs, outreach to campus academic resources, and internal mentoring programs, sorority and fraternities tend to have higher average GPA’s than those not affiliated with a Greek-letter organization. All chapters at Ohio University are required to hold a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 2.5; however, many of our chapters pride themselves on their outstanding achievements and hold grade point averages much higher than the minimum requirement. Visit the online scorecard for each fraternity and sorority to learn more. 

Who is actually in charge of the sororities and fraternities?

While the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life provides the direct oversight to the 32 member sororities and fraternities and serve as the primary contacts for the community on Ohio University’s campus, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and Unified Greek Council (UGC), serve as the governing bodies for the fraternity and sorority chapters on campus, helping to unify and oversee the groups, and serve as a link to campus, community, and University administration.

Fraternities and sororities at Ohio, as at most colleges and universities in the United States, are considered private, independent, social entities that freely associate and determine their own membership. Individual chapters elect officers to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by alumni chosen by the chapters, who act advisors.

In cases where there are fraternity and sorority houses, those dwellings are located off campus and are generally privately owned by the fraternity’s alumni board or other third-party landlord.

Each chapter also is responsible to its Inter/national organization, which offers support, advice, and direction through paid professional staff and regional volunteers.

How will my student benefit from joining a sorority or fraternity?

Sororities and fraternities have a rich history at Ohio University dating back to almost 200 years ago. These organizations are rooted in the founding principles that foster academic achievement, student involvement, community service, and life-long friendships. Fraternities and sororities are groups of men and women who come together to form a person network of individuals with similar ideas, interests, and a mutual pursuit of a well-rounded college education. Advantages include:

  • A support group to help make the adjustment to college easier
  • Academic resources to help students achieve their educational goals
  • Leadership skills acquired through hands-on experience
  • Encouragement to get involved and maximize their potential on campus
  • Opportunities for active participation in community service projects
Is hazing a part of the fraternity and sorority culture at Ohio?

Hazing, which is against Ohio Law, should not be a part of joining any organization, and Ohio University has a zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing. Hazing is a serious offense of the Ohio University “Student Code of Conduct” and, therefore, is subject to the full range of sanctions (reprimand, disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion). An individual may be subject to other outcomes, as the university has the right to take action regardless of the actions of a governing body. Hazing includes any activity that subjects members to harassment, ridicule, intimidation, physical exhaustion, abuse, or mental distress. Hazing is contrary to the purposes of the sorority and fraternity community and the University, and is not tolerate.

If you sense your student may be participating in inappropriate activities as a result of membership in a fraternity or sorority, you should contact the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life immediately. Or, you can file an incident report.

What is the financial obligation?

There is a financial commitment associated with joining a sorority or fraternity. The fees go toward Inter/National organization dues, chapter operating expenses, and social functions. Financial obligations differ among individual chapters. New members can expect to pay higher dues their first semester than in subsequent semesters. Additional costs throughout the semester will go toward chapter meal plans, pictures, gifts, t-shirts, etc. While the student is participating in the recruitment process, encourage him/her to ask about the financial obligations of their membership.

What are the social aspects of sorority and fraternity membership?

The fraternity and sorority community at Ohio is making serious efforts to create a more responsible and safe environment for its members at social events. While each member sorority and fraternity are encouraged to follow the stricter policy (that of their Inter/National organization and that of the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life) our we have our own health & safety guidelines. for events with alcohol. All organizations are held accountable for violations through the Greek Standards Board for any violation of this policy.

What is my role as a parent?

Students need support throughout the process of recruitment/intake and new member education. Be supportive and learn as much as you can about fraternity and sorority life by asking questions of your student as he or she meets members in our organizations.

Keep an open mind. Sorority and fraternity life is not for everyone. Just because you may have been in a fraternity or sorority, doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for your students.

Fraternities and sororities are different on every campus. Groups that may have been strong on the campus where you attended school may not have the same reputation at Ohio. Let you student choose the group the he or she feels the most comfortable with joining.

Talk to your student about dangerous behaviors that come with alcohol misuse. Reiterate that underage drinking is illegal and a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, half of all sexual assaults in the United States involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both. Ohio University is committed to fostering an environment free from sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct. Alcohol misuse can lead to poor academic performance and lower grades.

Have frank conversations with your son or daughter about activities that may occur in a group situation, such as hazing, that make them uncomfortable or put them or other at risk. There are many avenues for reporting misconduct at Ohio University. Be sure to discuss the importance of bystander intervention with your student.

Talk to your student beforehand about the financial obligation. Determine who will pay for what and what the limits are.

Know that the system of fraternity/sorority recruitment at Ohio University is competitive. Not everyone who wants to be in a fraternity or sorority will receive a bid.

Do not become too involved in the sorority and fraternity recruitment/intake process; this is your student’s decision. There will be plenty of activities and events for you to attend or even help plan once your student joins one of our organizations.

Too often, parents do not allow their students to fight their own battles. It helps the student mature and gain some assertiveness when allowed to call various offices if they have questions or concerns about their decision to join a sorority or fraternity.

Keep the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life contact information on hand if you have any questions or concerns.