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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Fraternity & Sorority Terminology

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A glossary of terms commonly used by persons affiliated with Greek Life.

Active (often referred to as Brother or Sister): a fully initiated undergraduate member of a fraternity/sorority.

Affiliation: the fraternity or sorority to which the individual belongs.

Alumnus/Alumna: an initiated fraternity/sorority member who has graduated from the university.

Associate Member: a person who has accepted the bid of a Greek organization but has not yet been initiated into full membership.

Badge/Pin: the symbol worn by the initiated member of a Greek-letter organization.

Bid: an invitation from a fraternity or sorority to a man or woman to become a new member.

Big Brother/Sister: an initiated member of a fraternity/sorority assigned to an associate member as a guide.

Chapter: the campus group of an (Inter) National Greek organization. Chapters may be referenced by state and/or Greek letters. For example, Minnesota Beta Chapter or Zeta Kappa Chapter.

Chapter Advisor: an alumnus who establishes and maintains a close advisory relationship with a chapter and serves as a teacher, counselor, and friend.

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."

Dry Recruitment: alcohol is forbidden at all events associated with introducing the fraternity/sorority to potential new members.

Dues: membership and other fees paid to local organizations for programming and for expenses incurred as part of a national organization. Dues may be different for new members and actives due to one-time fees payable during the first semester of membership.

Exchange: An activity where the members of one Greek organization visit the chapter of another Greek organization for a social event.

Formal Recruitment: the “official” Fall recruitment period for soroties.  During the week, a mutual selection process takes place, during which chapters and potential new members find the best fit for each other. 

Fraternity: a Greek-letter brotherhood or sisterhood.

Greek Advisor: a staff member that helps guide and structure the Greek community
and its members.

Greek Week: an annual event consisting of service projects, Greek Olympics, Lip Sync, and more, which promotes Greek involvement, presence, and unity on campus.

Hazing: any willful act or practice by a member or associate member, directed against a member or associate 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 or pledge that compels a member or associate member to participate in any activity that is illegal, contrary to a member's or associate member's moral or religious beliefs or contrary to the rules and regulations of the fraternity, institution of learning and civil authorities. Hazing is prohibited by university policy, State law, and the policies of national fraternities and sororities.

Initiation: a formal ritual ceremony through which new members become full members of a Greek organization.

Legacy: a potential member with a family member who is a member of a particular fraternity/sorority. Legacies may be granted special consideration in the membership recruitment process but are never guaranteed membership.

Little Brother/Sister: a new member of a fraternity/sorority who is paired with an active for a mentor relationship.

National: the national or international organization to which a chapter is affiliated. Most have a national board of directors, comprised primarily of alumni, and national headquarters with support staff.

New Member: a person who has accepted the bid of a Greek organization but has not yet been initiated into full membership.

Order of Omega: a national honor society recognizing fraternity and sorority members who excel in academic achievement, Greek leadership and campus involvement.

Philanthropy: the chapter’s specific charitable organization(s) that they donate money and volunteer hours

Pledge: a person who has accepted the bid of a Greek organization but has not yet been initiated into full membership.

Potential Member: a non-member who is eligible to participate in the recruitment process and who is interested in exploring whether or not Greek life may be for them.

Quota: the number of women each sorority may pledge in a formal recruitment period.

Recruitment: the continual process of recruiting men and women to become members of the Greek Community.

Risk Management: involves analyzing exposure to the possibility of loss and determining how to handle this exposure and reduce, share or transfer the risk.

Ritual: the traditional ceremonies of a chapter, which are usually secret, except as shared with fully initated members.

Sisterhood/Brotherhood: intangible, yet the most cherished foundations of sorority and fraternity life.

Sorority: a Greek-letter sisterhood.