What is a fraternity or sorority?
A fraternity (for male-identified students) or sorority (for female-identified students), or co-educational fraternal group is a social, values-based organization typically identified by Greek letters. Fraternities and sororities have been a part of institutions of higher education for over two centuries, and membership in a fraternity or sorority is considered to be for life. Membership in a fraternity or sorority will offer experiences with service and philanthropy, leadership development, academic excellence, and deep friendships. At Ohio University, there are 33 social (different from academic honor societies) fraternities and sororities to choose from, and all are "chapters" or a branch of a larger inter/national organization.
How does a student join a fraternity or sorority?
Each fraternity or sorority has a specific process for gaining new members. The sororities in the Women's Panhellenic Association (WPA) and the fraternities in the Interfraternity Council (IFC) will have formal and informal recruitment events in the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) fraternities and sororities will participate in an intake process to gain new members, which will happen throughout the academic year. Many organizations will advertise their specific events throughout campus, but questions can always be directed to the office in Baker University Center, Room 330.
Can anybody join a fraternity or sorority?
Membership is limited to current undergraduate students enrolled at the Athens campus, although there are other options to explore fraternity/sorority affiliation for graduate students or alumni. First year students are eligible to participate in recruitment events, although fraternities and sororities do have their own membership selection processes. Students will often have to meet certain qualifications (such as a certain GPA) in order to receive an invitation for membership. Each organization will have their own requirements, so it is important to ask these questions during a recruitment or intake event. Before you consider joining, look at the website of the national organization and see what the organization is all about, as you are only able to be initiated into one organization.
If I join a fraternity or sorority, do I have to live in the chapter house?
Not all of the fraternities and sororities at Ohio University have an official property/facility. For the groups that have their own facility, there will be specific requirements around who is eligible to live in the property. Ohio University students are expected to complete an on-campus residency requirement, but there are exemptions available for students who have completed one academic year to move into their recognized sorority or fraternity facility. Only initiated members are eligible to live in their specific house. The facilities are not overseen by the University, but instead are owned/operated by a local property management company or house corporation with some requirements from the University for recognition.
What is the cost of joining a fraternity or sorority?
Each organization will have its own set of fees regarding membership, and it is important to ask the cost of membership during a recruitment or intake event. Dues are charged to members in order to fund the different events the individual fraternity or sorority will hold, such as service events or attending conferences. New members are often charged one-time fees to cover the cost of such items as their membership badge and/or certificate. There are additional costs of membership if you should choose to live in a fraternity or sorority property to cover the cost of housing and meals.
If I join a chapter, am I going to be hazed?
Hazing is a violation of local and federal laws, as well as university policies (see
Ohio University Policy 23.010
). Every inter/national fraternity or sorority has banned hazing, and each local organization is obligated to comply with these regulations. All chapters will have a period of membership where new members will learn what it means to be a member of the chapter, covering topics from the history of the organization to learning the Greek alphabet. This is usually a 4-8 week program and upon its completion, new members will participate in a ceremony (often called Initiation) where they will become "full" or "active" members of the organization.
Who is actually in charge of the fraternities and sororities?
Each fraternity or sorority chapter or colony will have their own officers to oversee their internal affairs, and often have their own set of alumni advisors. Additionally, each fraternity or sorority at Ohio University is overseen by a governing council made up of elected/appointed undergraduate student members, and every chapter also has an on-campus advisor, usually a faculty or staff member. Every chapter also belongs to a larger national organization, that will often send representatives to check on the chapter's performance (visits vary but will typically occur once a semester or once an academic year). Additionally, these inter/national organizations are all a part of larger, umbrella organizations that oversee various guidelines and expectations surrounding such items as recruitment. Finally, there the Sorority & Fraternity Life office within the Campus Involvement Center responsible for the oversight of the fraternal system. The office has staff members who work with the chapters and governing councils on such items as programming, academics, and general advising needs.