CMU - Fraternity & Sorority Life

Fraternity and Sorority Common Terms

• Active: a formal initiated member of a fraternity or sorority.

 Alumna: a sorority member who has graduated from college.

• Alumni: (all encompassing) plural form used when referring to multiple members of a fraternity or sorority that have graduated from college.

• Alumnus: A fraternity member who has graduated from college.

• Badge: the fraternity/sorority insignia, worn only by the members.

• Bid: a formal invitation to join Greek organization.

• Bid Day: The last day of recruitment which includes activities at the chapter house.

• Big: A term referring to a mentor member of a Greek Organization. 

• Brother/Sister: a term that is used to refer to another member of a Greek organization.

• Call: A yell used to identify and greet brother and sisters. 

• Campus: a college or university.

• Chapter: name for the local organization.

• Chapter Advisor: An alumnus/alumna or faculty member who serves in an advisory role to provide guidance to the organization.

• Charter: documentation that an individual chapter is recognized and operates according to the national organization.

• Colony: A newly formed affiliate of a national organization that has not yet received its charter. The members of a colony are referred to as “founders”.

• Crest: A coat of arms that represents the organization and its principals. An organization’s crest is specific to that Greek organization.

• Crossing: A term to denote when a person was initiated. 

• Culturally Based Greek Lettered Organization: A fraternity or sorority that has aspects of a specific or multiple culture incorporated into its ritual, purpose and ceremonies. Member organizations of Affiliates, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, Texas Asian Pan-Hellenic Council and United Greek Council are all culturally based.

• Daughter/Son: A term referring to a mentee member of a Greek Organization. 

• Deletter/Disaffiliate: A member of an organization that chooses to no longer be a member of that organization. They are removed from membership.

• Depledge/Drop line: A student who withdraws from a chapter after accepting a bid or being inducted, but before the student is initiated.

• Dues: The monetary costs of membership in a fraternity or sorority. These fees are used to cover the costs of operation, formal events, social activities, and other events, depending on the organization.

• Fall/Formal Recruitment: a membership recruitment period during which a series of organized events are held by the National Panhellenic Council sorority.

• “Frat”: A term men use to refer to brothers of the same organization. 

• Fraternity: A Greek organization for men or a co-ed organization.

• Gamma Chi: a temporarily disaffiliated member of a sorority who assists potential members through the Panhellenic Council recruitment process. Stands for Greek Counselor.

• GDI: a non-Greek student, stands for “Gosh darn individual”. 

• Greek: A member of a fraternity or sorority.

• Greek Life: The on-campus community of fraternities and sororities.

 Hand Sign: Symbol or gesture made with the hand(s) that signifies membership in a particular organization

-DO: Enjoy the viewing of the various signs.

-DON'T: Emulate an organizations sign. It is a sign of disrespect.

• Handshake: It’s a special handshake unique to each organization. Only initiated members will know the handshake. Also known as a grip.

• Hazing: Any willful act or practice by a member, directed against a member or new member, which, with or without intent, is likely to: cause bodily harm or danger, offensive punishment, or disturbing pain, compromise the person's dignity; cause embarrassment or shame in public; cause the person to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain; and impair academic efforts. In addition, hazing is any requirement by a member which compels a member or new member to participate in any activity which is illegal, is contrary to moral or religious beliefs, or is contrary to the rules and regulations of the sorority/fraternity, institution of learning, and civil authorities. University policy, State law, and the policies of national fraternities and sororities strictly prohibit hazing.

• Inactive/Early Alumni: A member of a fraternity or sorority who is usually in their last semester of college and elects to no longer be active status.

• Informational: a meeting held by a chapter for prospective members who are seeking general information about the organization.

• Interest Group: A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a chapter of a Greek-letter organization.

• Interest Meeting: a formal meeting held by the organization for potential members that detail the application process and rules of the organization generally geared to potential members who have a serious interest.

• Intake: the membership recruitment and induction process for NPHC. The process is very discreet, and the interested person usually knows which group they want to pursue before attending any of their events.

• Initiation: the traditional ritual, which brings the new member into full membership. The private ceremony in which a new member becomes a full initiated member. Initiation ceremonies and rituals are private and secret and may only be attended by initiated members or those to be initiated.

• Jump: a way for potential new members to claim their new sisterhood. Each new member her bid and then gets on stage and announces which organization they are joining and jump off the stage to run to their group of new sisters waiting for them.

• Legacy: a prospective member who has a family member in the same Greek organization.

• “Lil”/ Little: A term referring to a mentee member of a Greek Organization.

• Line/Ship: People who are members of the same intake class. 

o Captain /Ace: person who is considered the leader of the line
o Anchor/Tail: last person in the line
o Sands: individuals from different chapters who joined their respective organizations during the same semester

• Line Number: the numerical designation given to a member according to the place they occupy in the line or organization. Commonly worn on the back of a jacket or T-Shirt. 

• Mom/Dad: A term referring to a mentor member of a Greek Organization. Commonly used by MGC organizations.

• Neophyte: A newly initiated member of a Greek organization. The Neophyte period is usually a year or until the next line/class of new members comes through the organization. Sometimes referred to as “Neo”.

• New Member/Associate: a member who has not been initiated. A person who has been accepted as a probationary member of a Greek organization and is in the process to become a full member.

• New Member Class: People who are members of the same new member class, sometimes referred to as “pledge class”.

• New Member Educator/Membership Orientation Officer (MOO)/Dean: The chapter sister or brother who is responsible for educating the newest line/class of new members.

• New Member Period: Upon receiving a bid, this term is used to refer to the time during which an associate is in process of becoming a full member. Depending on the organization, this can be anywhere from 4-10 weeks.

• New Member Presentation/Coming Out Show/Probate: a show used to introduce new members of the organization. The new members are usually kept a secret until they are revealed. 

• Pers/ Personal/Special: a mentoring relationship between a new member and an established chapter member; can be used regionally to describe a person going through intake who shares the number of an initiated member. Commonly used by NPHC.

• Phoenix founders: Foundering members who have revived a chapter or recolonized and are now technically chapter founders because the members who came before them have been disaffiliated or graduated.

• Philanthropy: a charity or community service. Each organization has their own specific national charity that they donate to and some organizations have an additional charity individualized for their chapter.

• PNM: stands for Potential New Member, a non-greek individual.

• Quota: A specific number of women to which each Panhellenic Council sorority may extend membership during a formal (fall) recruitment period.

• Recolonize: A process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus receives another charter to recruit members on the same campus. Re-colonization can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers, or had their charter revoked.

• Ritual: A ceremony held in secret only for initiated members, which teaches the secret information of the group.

• Scroll Number: The numerical designation given to a member according to their order of initiation in the chapter in relation to all initiated members of a particular chapter. Commonly engraved on the back of the individual’s badge.

• Silence: Period of time when conversation and contact between potential new members and sorority actives, new members, alumnae and agents is strictly limited by the Panhellenic Recruitment Rules.

• “Soror”: A term women use to refer to sisters of the same organization. 

• Sorority: A Greek organization for women.

• Step: a series of complex, synchronous and precise rhythmic body movements performed to the tune of stomps, songs, or chants created by organization members. The purpose of step shows is to demonstrate unity, talent, and organizational pride.

• Stroll: Traditional dances or “party walks” at fraternities’ and sororities’ parties

-DO: Enjoy watching, as each organization has a unique way and style of strolling
-DON'T: Emulate the stroll or cut in between members of the line. That is considered a sign of disrespect.

• Total: The maximum number of members a Panhellenic Council sorority can have on a given campus.