Parents and Families FAQs

By joining one of our Fraternity and Sorority organizations, your student is now connected with a network of hundreds of other students who have found a sense of community within their fraternity and sorority. Members of Fraternity and Sorority Life must stay committed to their academics, maintaining good academic standard with the University and their national organizations. Students stay involved in the campus and outside communities and are developing leadership skills to serve them in their future careers through leadership roles and organizational committees. Making up 10% of the undergraduate student body, our Fraternity and Sorority members are an asset to SSU and contribute immensely to our campus community. 

We understand that as a parent or guardian, you may have many questions concerning your student's involvement in a fraternity or sorority at SSU. In order to help answer some of those questions, we have compiled a list of FAQs below. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Student Involvement.


What are the financial obligations of joining a fraternity or sorority?

The Greek experience is an investment in your student’s future. The leadership skills, academic assistance, and friendships will benefit your student beyond their college days. Joining a chapter does carry a financial commitment, although Greek organizations are affordable, and fees go to services that will positively impact your student. Each chapter has different financial expectations and is self-supporting through the dues paid by members. Some chapters have scholarships available, as well as flexible payment plans. Make sure your student asks about the financial obligations of membership. Per semester approximate costs vary from $400-$700 (first semester is more costly).

How will joining a fraternity or sorority help my student academically?

Students often find managing their time difficult when moving from the highly structured high school environment to the freedom of challenge. Greek membership assists in that transition by offering scholarship programs that may include study partners, mandatory study hours, and time management and study skill workshops. Your student can also access the network of chapter members who already know how to use campus resources like the library, study skills center, computer labs, and academic advisors. Nothing, however, can take the place of a disciplined and academically focused student to ensure success in college.

What is the time commitment of joining a fraternity or sorority?

The time commitment of joining a chapter varies, but the first semester is spent going through the chapter education program. This program will give your student the opportunity to develop their leadership and time management skills, learn about the history of the organization, develop friendships, and allow them to become involved with other organizations. Each chapter has weekly chapter meetings and other mandatory events (philanthropies, service, and initiation) throughout the year, but they are planned well in advance. In addition to the weekly meeting, the more your student puts into the chapter, the more they will get out of being a member.

What is Sonoma State University's policy on hazing?

Sonoma State University has a zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing that is consistent with California state law. Chapters are expected to uphold state, county and city laws, and the University policies. If you sense your student may be participating in inappropriate activities as a result of membership in a fraternity or sorority, please contact Student Involvement or the Sonoma State University police at (707) 664-4444.

What are some of the commonly used terms in fraternities and sororities?

Active: A member who has been fully initiated and is in good standing with their chapter.

Alumni: Any member who was initiated into a fraternity or sorority and has graduated from college.

Badge/Pin: A pin worn by active members that designates they are a member of that specific organization.

Bid: A formal invitation to join a fraternity or sorority. 

Big Brother/Sister: An older member of the chapter that serves as a role model and mentor to the newest members or "littles".

Crossed: The process of completing the intake process and becoming a full member of the chapter.

Fraternity: An individual men's organization characterized by values, ritual, and Greek letters.

Initiation: A ritual ceremony during which new members promise to uphold the standards of an individual organization and receive lifelong membership.

Intake: The process by which someone becomes a new member in a culturally-based fraternity or sorority. 

Inter/National Organization: An organization that has chapters across the country or internationally.

Legacy: A potential new member who has a direct family member(s) that is a member of a fraternity or sorority. Who qualifies as a legacy will vary between organizations.

Line: Individuals who are members of the same intake class in a culturally-based fraternity or sorority.

Local Organization: An organization that is only found on that specific campus.

Neophyte/Neo: The newest members of a culturally-based fraternity or sorority.

New Member: A group of individuals that have been given a bid, but have not yet been initiated into a fraternity or sorority.

Potential New Member/PNM: A term used to describe individuals seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority.

Primary Recruitment/Formal Recruitment: A designated membership period during which National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sororities hold a series of organized events.

Probate/New Member Presentation: A show often organized by culturally-based fraternities or sororities to present their newest members to the campus community.

Recruitment Counselor/Rho Gam: Sorority women who are selected and trained to guide PNMs through the primary recruitment process for PHA.

Sorority: An individual women's organization characterized by values, ritual, and Greek letters.

Stepping: A series of complex, synchronous and precise rhythmic movements. These are typically performed to songs or chants created by member organizations.

Strolling: Precise and synchronized movements [performed in unison by members of culturally-based fraternities and sororities.

What does joining a fraternity or sorority offer my student?

Scholarship: Greek organizations were founded on principles of scholastic achievement and the enhancement of opportunities for their members. Individual chapters also encourage scholastic excellence by planning their own incentive programs and placing grade requirements on both active and new members. Chapters ease the difficult transition to college by offering academic support including things like study groups, tutoring, and time management workshops. These resources give members the support needed to balance high academic achievement and co-curricular activities.

Leadership: Sorority and fraternity members are offered a variety of leadership opportunities and programs in which they can develop skills such as time management, leadership, event planning and implementation, and communication. They manage many programs to further develop these skills. Through this hands-on experience, members are given the tools needed to make meaningful, lasting change within their chapters and beyond.

Service/Philanthropy: As a community, our fraternity and sorority members understand the privilege that we have to receive an education and participate in co-curricular activities. As a result, community service and philanthropy are top priorities for our organizations. Each chapter provides numerous volunteer opportunities for its members and donates thousands of dollars each year to a local or national organization of their choice. Through these experiences, members are taught the value of servant leadership and are driven to become thoughtful, altruistic individuals.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood: The memories, activities and experience of joining a Greek organization are key components in the meaning of brotherhood/sisterhood. Through a variety of events, there are opportunities to meet and interact with other students on campus. Most chapters have formals, alumni events, intramurals, and much more that contribute to the experience of being a part of a larger organization. The values that are learned in this brotherhood/sisterhood will stay with you long after graduation and serve you throughout your lifetime.