Greek Life Terminology

Greek Life Terminology

Alumna: a female graduate

Alumnae: the plural of alumna

Alumni: the plural of alumnus

Alumnus: a male graduate

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” brother or sister that acts as a mentor throughout her new member period. The new member is called a little. This bond remains even after the new member has initiated.

Brother: Fraternity brothers are male members in the same fraternity chapter.

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”.

Chapter Advisor: An alumna/ alumni member of a sorority or fraternity that serves as a mentor to a collegiate 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 fraternities and sororities as Executive Council, which includes the elected executive officers of the chapter (i.e. President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, etc).

Formal: Like prom, only better. Typically every sorority/fraternity hosts a formal once a year where each member is allowed one date.

Founders: The founding sisters or brothers of the national sorority or fraternity.

Fraternity Sweetheart: A female who is elected by the members of a fraternity for her dedication and contributions to the success of the chapter over the previous year. She is usually permitted to wear the fraternity letters.

Good Standing: A sorority or fraternity member who has fulfilled all membership obligations, such as paying their dues, maintaining the required GPA, etc.

Greek Alphabet:

This image is from dznewmember.org

Greek Council: The governing body of Greek Life organizations at Penn State Altoona.

Greek Week: A week where all of the greek organizations on campus come together for activities and friendly competitions.

House: Many schools have houses dedicated to each Greek organization. In the literal term, this would be where they live. Penn State Altoona does not recognize Greek Houses.

Infraction: When a chapter or a chapter member breaks a recruitment rule set forth by the Greek Council.

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” brother or 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.

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 interchangeably with “pledge”. This term refers to the men and women that have accepted a bid to a particular fraternity or 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: Also known as pledging. The time before initiation where the new member learns about the fraternity or sorority before becoming a collegiate member. It is typically 8-10 weeks long.

Paddle: This is seen as a gift in the Greek world. It is often given from chapter to chapter as a thank you or an honor. It is also given from littles to bigs.

Philanthropy: Put simply, community service. Typically each fraternity or 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”.

Pledge: Refers to the men and women that have accepted a bid to a particular fraternity chapter but are not yet initiated.

Pledge/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 and sororities require their pledges wear this pin at all times during this period.

Pledging 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.

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.

Recruitment: The official process for new members to join a fraternity or sorority. It is a mutual selection process where the PNM’s and chapter chose based on their perfect fit. This period is also commonly called RUSH.

Ritual: Symbolic gestures or ceremonies, often kept secret, preformed by only the members of the given sorority or fraternity.

Rush (formal rush): The official process of new members joining a fraternity. It is a mutual selection process where the PNM’s and chapter chose based on their perfect fit.

Sister: Sorority sisters are female members in the same sorority.