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Greek Life

Greek Glossary

The Greek community has developed its own unique set of terms that may make it hard for anyone outside the community to understand. Here are some frequently used terms and their definitions to help you get acquainted with Greek Life.

Active

A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity of sorority membership and participates in chapter activities at the collegiate level.

Advisor

An alumnus or alumna member who serves as a resource for the chapter and serves as a liaison between the national office, alumns, and actives.  Additionally, each chapter has an on-campus advisor to serve as a resource for campus needs.

Alumni/Alumnus

Members of a fraternity who have graduated. (Singular is alumnus)

Alumnae/Alumna

Members of a sorority who have graduated. (Singular is alumna)

Alum

Abbreviation for Alumnus, Alumna, Alumni, or Alumnae

Alumni Initiate

An individual who did not join a sorority or fraternity while in college, but is being initiated as an alum member while still having the full benefits of membership as an alum. 

Badge

The pin of an initiated member. It is an item of jewelry given to members upon initiation and should be worn at all official functions.  The badge must be worn with business like attire, usually over the heart and above all other pins.

Badge Attire

Business attire or presentable dress so that an individual may wear their badge to the event. Badges are not allowed to be worn on garments not following this standard.

Bid

A formal invitation to membership in a particular fraternity or sorority.

Bid Day

The last day of formal recruitment for the sororities in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a sorority.

Big Brother or Sister

An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a mentor to a new member, guiding him or her through the new member program and initiation.

Brother

A term used by fraternity members to refer to one another.

Chapter

A branch of a national sorority or fraternity, established at a campus.  Each chapter will have their own name, usually designated by Greek Letters. Example: Delta Tau Delta, Iota Phi Chapter.

Chapter House

A house associated with a Greek organization where chapter business can be conducted and members of the organization reside. Not all chapters have chapter houses.  On some campuses, chapter houses can be located on campus or have a designated floor on in a special residence hall.  When groups do not have a chapter house, all chapter business must be conducted on campus.

Charter

Permission from the national organization to have a chapter on campus. 

Colony

A new organization that is awaiting official recognition from their national organization to have a chapter on campus.

Colors

The official pair or triad of colors that represent a specific Greek organization.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB)

An informal recruitment process typically used by sororities if they haven't reached the allowable membership total during formal recruitment or if they did not meet quota.  This process is also used by the fraternities year-round since their recruitment process is informal and COB allows chapters to offer bids to any potential new members.

Crest

Insignia used by sorority and fraternity members.  Most Greek organizations reserve the crest for initiated members only since it has hidden, secret meanings behind it. Also known as a coat of arms or shield.

Dirty Rushing

When one organization will attempt to influence a potential new member through gifts, bad mouthing other organizations, etc.

Drop/Depledge

The process where a new member elects, or is asked, to relinquish membership during their pledge period.  Those who depledge a sorority may not pledge another sorority for one full calendar year.

Dry

An organization that does not permit alcohol on their house premises, and in very rare cases, does not allow the organization to host a party involving alcohol.  Some fraternities are going dry at the national level, and all sororities have different levels of "dry".  For example, one may allow the sorority to attend a function hosted by a non-dry fraternity, while another sorority may not.

Dues

Charge of joining a fraternity or sorority.  Covers costs of operation, formal events, activities, chapter insurance, and other events.

Expansion

When an organization is looking to expand and open a chapter at a new school.

Family Tree

Term used by actives and alumni to outline bigs/littles/grand-bigs/grand-littles, etc. to show connections between members in their mentorship roles.

Formal Recruitment

Recruitment is the process where sororities and fraternities get new members.  Formal Recruitment is a scheduled event for sororities to show off their unique values and experiences to potential new members. Potential new members attend events throughout a week to get a better idea of which chapter is the best fit for them.  They attend rounds with different themes every night, a Preference Night where they can tour the houses, and Bid Day where they receive their formal invitation to join a sorority.  This week-long event takes place at the beginning of the academic year and only happens once a year.  The old term for this process is rush, which is still used by some fraternities.

Founders Day

An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history. It is not necessarily held on the day the organization was founded.

Frat

An outdated nickname for a fraternity or fraternity brother.  Members of fraternities usually find this term offensive since it is typically tied to negative stereotypes of Greek Life.

Fraternity

A group of people brought together because of mutual interests.  Generally thought of as a group of men, but also refers to co-ed organizations and many sororities are officially fraternities.

Greek

Not the nationality.  Greek in this sense means a member of a social fraternity or sorority.

Greek Week

An organized week of activities to celebrate the Greek community members, its pillars, and connect to the campus community.

Hand Sign

Used to identify members of the same organization.  Most have a deep meaning to that organization or ritualistic symbol.

Hazing

Any act performed by a member of any organization that is likely to cause harm, danger, causes public embarrassment or shame, compromises a person's dignity, causes the person to be the object of ridicule, cause psychological harm, or is illegal.  Hazing is against the law in all states, and it's against the principles of all sororities and fraternities.  If you have experienced or have witnessed any of the above, please complete the anonymous Hazing Report Form through the Dean of Students Office.

Hold Over

Someone who is a new member, who for some reason cannot be initiated with their new member class, is "held over" until the next initiation occurs.  Often happens because of finances, personal reasons, academics, etc.

Hot Boxing

Members of Greek organizations putting pressure on potential members to join.  During Formal Recruitment, this term refers to more than two women from one chapter talking to a potential new member.

Inactive Member

A member who has elected to become inactive in sorority or fraternity life.  They have no say or participation in chapter activities.

Initiated Member

A person who has recently learned the ritual of a fraternity or sorority and is a full member.

Initiation

A ceremony where a new member becomes a full member of the organization.  Initiation ceremonies are private and different for all organizations.

Interfraternity Council (IFC)

The governing body of the fraternities at UW-Eau Claire.  Visit the Councils page for more information about the organization.

Intentional Single Preference (ISP)

When a prospective member only puts down one choice on her MRABA. This sometimes lessens the chances of her getting a bid, and isn't recommended.  Formerly called suicide bidding, but was changed to ISP because of the negative implications of the term.

Legacy

The son, daughter, brother or sister of an initiated or alum member. Some organizations also include grandchildren, nieces, nephews, step children, etc. Sorority rules sometimes dictate that a legacy cannot be cut from the first round of Formal Recruitment, but in no way are legacies guaranteed a bid from the organization they are a legacy to.

Letters

The first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the name of the fraternity or sorority are often displayed on clothing.  Example: Delta Zeta = DZ Some organizations don't allow new members to wear letters (only the name spelled out) while others do.  Additionally, some organizations do not allow their organization name or letters to be displayed on clothing or other locations at all and use a different name when wearing "letters". Example: Phi Gamma Delta = FIJI

Little

Nickname for a new member that has been assigned a Big or mentor in the organization.

Local

A fraternity or sorority not affiliated with a national or regional organization.

Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement (MRABA)

A one-year binding agreement between a potential new member and an NPC chapter on campus.

National PanHellenic Conference (NPC)

The national organization that governs the 26 national women's sororities.

New Member

After receiving and accepting a bid, the person becomes a new member.  Formerly called a pledge (and may still be called a pledge depending on the organization).

New Member Class

The group of new members that will be going through the New Member Program and initiation together.  Also referred to as a pledge class.

New Member Education/Program

The time period where the new member learns about their sorority and fraternity before initiation.  It typically lasts from Bid Day until Initiation but can last longer depending on the organization's bylaws.

New Member Pin

A distinctive badge worn on the chest designating a new member of a particular fraternity or sorority for the period of time between bid acceptance and initiation.  Most organizations require the new member to return the new member pin at initiation in exchange for their member pin.

No Frills

Formal recruitment where costumes, elaborate food, skits, etc. are forbidden at all or most rounds.  Designed to let sororities recruit on a level playing field, so a sorority with more funding cannot out decorate a sorority with a smaller budget.  Also used to prevent over-spending on recruitment, which is usually a large portion of a sorority budget.

North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC)

National coordinating body of all the men's fraternities.  It does not enforce policies on the local IFCs, and is totally different from the purpose of NPC.

Order of Omega (OoO)

An honor society for Greek members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and academic achievement.  Visit the Order of Omega page for more information about the organization.

PanHellenic Council (PHC)

The governing body of the sororities at UW-Eau Claire. Visit the Councils page for more information about the organization.

Philanthropy

A charity or fundraiser that the fraternity or sorority supports. Can be national or local or both.

Pledge

Another term for a new member.  Some organizations have chosen to not use this term since it sometimes has a negative stereotype linked to it.

Potential New Member (PNM)

A person who is interested in joining a Greek letter organization, and will participate in recruitment. 

Preferencing

During the last part of Formal Recruitment, a potential new member determines which particular sorority she would like to visit on Pref Night and potentially join.  The potential new members list the three sororities in their order of preference.

Preference Night (Pref)

Final night of Formal Recruitment where the sororities host events at their chapter houses.  They are fancier than the previous Formal Recruitment events and usually include a ritual that potential new members can participate in.

Quota

A set number of new members a sorority can extend bids to.  Quota is determined by taking the total number of potential new members at Pref and dividing by the number of sororities.  For example, if there are 5 sororities on campus, and 100 women that attend Pref night, each sorority can take a maximum of 20 new members.

Recolonize

Process where a fraternity or sorority that was previously on campus receives another charter for the same campus.  Recolonization can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers or had their charter revoked.

Recruitment Counselor

A PanHellenic sorority member who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter during Formal Recruitment in order to avoid creating bias for potential new members. She is specially trained to help potential new members and answer any questions they may have about sorority membership. Many campuses have their own terms for recruitment counselors including Rho Chis (recruitment counselor), Sigma Rho Chi (sorority recruitment counselor), Pi Chi (PanHellenic counselor), Rho Gamma (recruitment guide), Rho Alpha (recruitment advisor), Gamma Chi (Greek counselor), etc.

Retreat

A trip, or sometimes just a sleep over at the sorority house, where the members bond and get to know each other.

Ritual

A secret ceremony of a Greek organization. Also, the formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the organization was founded. Ritual elements are sacred to each sorority and fraternity and have been handed down through the generations.  Only initiated members may be privy to rituals.

Rush

Rush is an outdated term that was replaced in 1999 with recruitment. Rush referred to the practice of fraternities "rushing" to the train station to meet the newest members of the freshmen class of a college or university and pinning their fraternity colors on the freshmen to identify them as a potential member of that fraternity.

Silence

A specific period of time after close of Formal Recruitment events and prior to the distribution of bids when there is no communication between potential new members and sorority members.

Sister

Term that sorority members call each other.

Snap Bid

A bid given to a potential new member who has not placed during bid matching.  The potential new member would be on the sorority's list but that potential new member did not list the sorority on her bid card.  Many schools will not allow someone who Intentionally Single Preferences to receive a snap bid.  Some schools will allow a person who had to drop out of recruitment to receive a snap bid.

Social

A get-together event with another Greek organization or any other organization.

Sweetheart

An individual who has been selected by a Greek organization due their dedication to and appreciation for that organization.  The individual does not belong to the chapter awarding the title.  Various terms can be used to identify this individual depending on the organization and who is selected.

Total

The allowable chapter size, as determined by the College PanHellenic, including both new and initiated members.  Chapters are allowed to exceed total during Formal Recruitment to include more potential new members.  Currently, UW-Eau Claire's total is 57.