Greek Terms to Know:
Active/ Collegiate Member: Someone who has completed their new member/pledge period and has been initiated into the sorority or fraternity. Many members refer to them as “actives”, but collegiate member is preferable because new members and alumni are also active within the organization.
Advisor: An alumna/ alumni member of a sorority or fraternity that serves as a mentor to a collegiate chapter officer.
Alumna: A female graduate
Alumnae: The plural of alumna
Badge: The pin of an initiated member.
Bid: An official invitation from a chapter to become a new member
Bid Day: The final day of recruitment when bids are given out.
Big: Each new member is given a “big” sister that has been a mentor to her throughout her new member period. The new member is called a little. This bond remains even after the new member has initiated.
Chapter: Each national sorority and fraternity has individual chapters of their organization at different colleges and universities. Also, some groups refer to their weekly meeting as “chapter”.
Colony: A newly formed sorority/fraternity organization on campus that has yet to receive their charter recognizing them as a chapter. Colonies have to fulfill requirements set by the college and their national organization before becoming a chapter.
Dues: Fees paid to the organization you are affiliated with. Dues must be paid to remain in “good standing” with your chapter.
E-Board: Executive Board, also referred to in some sororities as Executive Council, which includes the elected executive officers of the chapter (i.e. President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, etc).
Founders: The founding sisters or brothers of the national sorority or fraternity.
Good Standing: A sorority or fraternity member who has fulfilled all membership obligations, such as paying their dues, maintaining the required GPA, etc.
House: Many schools have houses dedicated to each Greek organization. In the literal term, this would be where they live. Some schools also refer to the entire organization as a house, for example “what house are you from” meaning “what sorority/ fraternity are you in”?
House Mom: Officially titled Resident Director, which refers to a person hired to manage the sorority house and supervise the home operations.
Infraction: When a sorority or a sorority member breaks a recruitment rule set forth by the Panhellenic council at her school.
Initiation: Formal admittance into the sorority/fraternity. The new members participate in a ceremony that marks formal admittance into the sorority/fraternity. The initiation ceremony is secret and rooted in history.
Legacy: A student whose family member (typically brother/sister, mom/dad, grandmother/grandfather but can also include aunt/uncle) is a member of a particular sorority or fraternity. The student is given special membership consideration but not guaranteed a bid.
Letters: The Greek letters of your sorority or fraternity name.
Little: Each new member is given a “big” sister that has been a mentor to her throughout her new member period. The new member is called a little. This bond remains even after the new member has initiated.
National Panhellenic Conference: The NPC website describes themselves as, “The National Panhellenic Conference will be the premier advocacy and support organization for its members, member groups, college and alumnae panhellenics and a proponent of women’s fraternity membership.” See our NPC Sororities page for more details.
Nationals: Every chapter is a member of a national organization which sets policies for the entire sorority or fraternity.
New Member: This is used for sororities in place of “pledge”. This term refers to the women that have accepted a bid to a particular sorority chapter but are not yet initiated.
New Member Educator: This is an initiated member of the sorority/ fraternity who will serve as the new member class’ “teacher” of the chapter. She or he will be their guide throughout their new member period.
New Member Period: The time between pledging and initiation where the new member learns about the sorority before becoming a collegiate member. It is typically 8-10 weeks long.
Philanthropy: Put simply, community service. Typically each sorority has a nationally and/or locally recognized non-profit agency that they donate time and money to; they refer to this as “their philanthropy”.
New Member Pin: The pin of a pledge/new member, which indicates their commitment to the organization from the time of pledging until initiation. Some fraternities require their pledges wear this pin at all times during this period.
New Member Ceremony: This is the ceremony to recognize the official commitment to become a new member of the sorority or fraternity.
PNM: Potential New Member. It refers to all incoming women going through the recruitment process before they accept a sorority bid.
Preference Night (Pref): The last round of formal sorority recruitment. This is typically more serious than the previous nights, and it is a glimpse into the ritual of the sorority. This is the last party before PNM’s and chapters make their final decisions about membership.
Probation: A member of a sorority or fraternity is put on probation if they have not fulfilled part of their membership, such as GPA requirement, financial obligations, or social standards. Typically members on probation cannot vote in chapter elections while on probation among other restrictions.
Quota: The maximum number each sorority can pledge during formal recruitment. This number is determined by the Panhellenic council at each school and is based on many different factors.
Recruitment (Formal Recruitment): The official process for new members to join a sorority. It is a mutual selection process where the PNMs and chapter chose based on their perfect fit. Formal recruitment at NC State lasts about a week.
Sorority Recruitment Counselor (Sigma Rho Chi): A collegiate sorority member who disaffiliates from their individual chapter to help PNMs with an unbiased perspective through recruitment.
Recruitment Parties: The different rounds of formal recruitment. Each sorority chapter throws their own “party” for PNM’s to attend.
Ritual: Symbolic gestures or ceremonies, often kept secret, preformed by only the members of the given sorority or fraternity.
Sister: Sorority sisters are female members in the same sorority.
Social/Mixer: When two organizations, usually a sorority and fraternity, get together to do a planned social activity.
ISP (Intentional Single Preference/“Suicide”): When a PNM will only accept a bid from one chapter of their choice, and refuses to rank any other chapter on their list during recruitment.
Below are some frequently asked questions many new members ask when they are joining a fraternity or a sorority. If there any questions you have which are not listed below, please let us know!
What does it mean to join a sorority at NC State? To make the decision to join a sorority at North Carolina State University is to make a lifelong commitment to better yourself and your community. Being involved as a fraternity/sorority member has the benefits of making a campus with thousands of students seem smaller, and the connections shared by our members offer a home away from home. Joining an organization can also open many doors to other opportunities, such as positional leadership, connection to values, mentorship, and more!
What makes one sorority different from another, and how do I choose one? Our sororities are multifaceted in membership, and structurally each one looks for members that are committed to the values and ideals of the organizations. Some organizations offer specific experiential connections and it is important to consider each organization and the way they recruit new members as you explore our community.
How to Join?
How do I join an organization? The Panhellenic Association has a formal recruitment process held in September each fall semester, which you can learn more about by clicking on our recruitment tab!
What are the requirements to join? Each organization has different criteria for membership that always includes a GPA or academic expectation. Some organizations require students to be beyond their first semester as a student. We encourage students interested in joining to ask questions about membership eligibility as well as expectations for membership once they have joined an organization.
What can I expect as far as becoming a member of a chapter? Each organization has a period of new member orientation as part of its expectations for new members, ranging in time based on individual and national timelines. During this time, you and other new members will participate in weekly meetings to learn about the university and the fraternity/sorority history, leadership retreats, community service projects, and activities designed to build friendships among new members (pledges/associates/candidates) and the initiated members.
How long does joining a chapter take? The new member education or intake process differs between organizations but typically ranges from 4-12 weeks. Ask members of the organization you are hoping to join for more specific information about the length of the program.
What are the financial commitments to the organization and what does the payment structure look like? The cost of joining each organization varies, though amounts can range across chapters. Dues may cover things like national insurance, leadership development opportunities, programming offerings, and initiation/national fees. Additionally, the first year of membership may cost more in comparison to following years due to fees related to initiation, education materials, paraphernalia, and then some. Most organizations do offer payment plans for members and we encourage student to ask questions about membership costs before joining an organization in order to fully understand the financial expectations of membership.
Common Concerns/ Perceptions
What about hazing in sororities? All fraternities and sororities forbid hazing, and are committed to a membership education period that instills a sense of responsibility and commitment in the new members. Hazing is against the law in the State of North Carolina and is taken seriously by North Carolina State University, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, and the governing councils. All student organizations are expected to follow these policies, and training and resources are provided to groups to help them create a positive new member experience.
I am unsure if I will be accepted in the chapter I am looking at joining, so what should I consider? The best way to figure out if you will be accepted into the chapter you are looking to join is to be your authentic self. Joining a sorority is a lifelong commitment, and you want to be able to be yourself throughout the entire time. Being yourself and asking questions about what others in the chapter have similar interests or identity can illuminate more about the chapter’s culture.
What impact with joining a sorority have on my academic success? The intention of fraternities and sororities is to provide support and assistance in a student’s academic career. It is our belief that these organizations should help improve a student’s academic performance by providing resources, academic support programs, and incentives for success.
Do I have to join as a first year student? Students at NC State may join sororities in any year of their academic career. Some organizations only consider members that have been in school for at least one semester. The best way to learn this information to to contact the chapter if you are unsure.
I am a legacy. What does that mean? A legacy is a student who has a family member already a member of a particular fraternity or sorority. Students are free to seek membership in any organization, and someone that is a legacy is not required to join a particular organization. Additionally, it is up to the organization to select their members regardless of legacy status.
Do all fraternities and sororities have houses? Some fraternities and sororities have houses, and we encourage you to ask questions about housing in a recruitment process or as you are researching various organizations. All chapters with houses have different live-in policies, and chapters are expected to provide education up front about these expectations before members join.
Which organizations exist at NCSU? All Panhellenic Association chapters existing on campus are listed under our "Chapters" tab!
What are the benefits of joining a sorority? There are many benefits to sorority membership including opportunities to engage in leadership development, academic personal development, career networking and alumni involvement, opportunities to engage in meaningful community service, and the development of lifelong friendships.