Do you have questions about Greek life? Are you wondering how your son or daughter will benefit from joining a fraternity or sorority? Here are answers to the frequently asked questions (FAQ) commonly asked of the staff in the Office of Student Life.
What is a fraternity or sorority?
A fraternity or sorority is a group of men or women formed by a brotherhood or sisterhood and common goals and aspirations who make a commitment to each other for life. The members that form a fraternity or sorority share their efforts, friendship, and knowledge. Together these members learn, grow, and make the fraternity or sorority, commonly called a Greek organization, stronger. Their common experience builds ties that last a lifetime.
Fraternities and sororities have been part of college campuses since the late 18th-century. These organizations are referred to as "Greek" because their names consist of Greek letters that serve as a reminder of the group’s values. Learn the Greek Alphabet.
Though there are many different fraternities and sororities, they all share common founding principles that may be of interest to any Ball State University student. Greek organizations enhance your educational experience by emphasizing intellectual, interpersonal, and social development. The ideals of lifelong friendship, sound education, campus and community service, and social interaction are what Greek members strive to live by every day.
My son or daughter is considering joining a fraternity or sorority. Should I be worried about their grades?
Students often find managing their time difficult when moving from the highly structured high school environment to the environment of a college campus. Fraternities and sororities assist members in overcoming these challenges by offering programs that may include study partners, study hours, and time management and study skill workshops.
Your son or daughter can also utilize the upperclassmen who already know how to use campus resources such as the library, study skills center, computer labs, and academic advisors. Nothing, however, can take the place of a disciplined and academically focused student when it comes to college academic success.
Members of the Greek community have had a higher GPA than all campus GPA for 27 consecutive semesters.
How is alcohol use managed in Greek chapters? Will my son or daughter be pressured or forced to drink?
The fraternity and sorority community at Ball State University contributes to the social environment on campus. The University, Office of Greek Life, Greek governing councils, and international/national organizations have worked toward the creation of a responsible and safe social environment. Most organizations have mandatory educational sessions on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse, and the precautions are taken at events to ensure a safe environment.
All fraternities and sororities have strict policies regarding the consumption of alcohol by underage members and guests. The use of alcohol is a personal choice that your son or daughter will need to make. Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, and National Pan-Hellenic Council developed and adopted a policy for fraternities and sororities at Ball State. This policy simply states that the possession, sale, use, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, while on chapter premises or during a fraternity event, in any situation sponsored or endorsed by the chapter, or at any event an observer would associate with the fraternity, must be in compliance with any and all applicable laws of the State of Indiana, Delaware County, Muncie, and Ball State University, and must comply with either Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) or Third Party Vendor Guidelines.
The policy also includes that open parties, meaning those with unrestricted access by non-members of the fraternity, without specific invitation, where alcohol is present, are prohibited; all recruitment and rush activities associated with any chapter will be non-alcoholic; no member or pledge, associate/new member/novice shall permit, tolerate encourage or participate in "drinking games"; and no alcohol shall be present at any pledge/associate member/new member/novice program, activity, or ritual of the chapter. This includes but is not limited to activities associated with "bid night," "big brother - little brother" events or activities, "big sister - little sister" events or activities, "family" events or activities and initiation. If you suspect that the alcohol policy is being violated by a Greek fraternity or sorority at Ball State, contact the Office of Greek Life.
What are the Greek governing councils?
The Greek community is a self-governing community providing a multitude of opportunities for both personal and professional development. Greek chapters at Ball State are required to be a member of one of three governing councils, which operate much like a city council. The governing councils are responsible for the community budget, activity calendar, programming and policies.
Interfraternity Council (IFC) – fraternities
National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) – African-American fraternities and sororities
Panhellenic Association (PHA) – sororities
What about pledging or hazing?
Hazing is defined as any action taken which produces bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright, or ridicule. All national fraternal organizations and institutions of higher education strictly forbid hazing. Ball State University and the Greek councils rigorously enforce hazing policies and organizations that violate them are subject to immediate suspension of campus and Greek council recognition and privileges.
All new fraternity and sorority members experience a period of orientation. During this time, your son or daughter and other new members will participate in weekly meetings to learn about Ball State, and the fraternity or sorority history, leadership retreats, community service projects and projects designed to build friendships among new members and initiated members.
It is understandable that you might be concerned if you hear that some of the things that go on during initiation are to be kept secret. Initiation into a fraternity or sorority is an exciting, yet serious, ceremony that conveys the purposes and special values of the respective fraternity or sorority. These ceremonies often are referred to as rituals. Greek chapters pride themselves on the rituals that their chapters were founded upon. These rituals are full of the traditions and values that make the chapters unique. However, these rituals should not be confused with hazing, and other inappropriate activities. The rituals of Greek organizations have nothing to do with hazing; they are not scary, shameful, or degrading. Although it is the most important part of membership, ritual is nothing more than symbols, heraldry, and common ideals.
Ball State University and the Greek Councils also take a zero tolerance stance on hazing and enforce policies rigorously. Fraternity and sorority initiation ceremonies are, in most cases, single day events. If your son or daughter has not been permitted to talk to friends or family for extended periods of time, hazing may be an issue. If you believe your child is being hazed or if you suspect hazing is happening in a Greek fraternity or sorority at Ball State, please contact the Office of Greek Life immediately. Or call toll-free 888-NOT-HAZE, or 888-668-4293, an antihazing hotline established by fraternities or sororities that anyone can use to report incidents of hazing anonymously.
Who is actually in charge of the organization, and is there outside support?
Students elected to officer positions manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees, so everyone in fraternities and sororities are involved in and exposed to leadership positions.
Each member learns cooperation, communication, and planning skills. Alumni act as advisors and some chapters have alumni advisory boards that work with its members. Each group is governed by an inter/national headquarters, which establishes their chapter’s regulations and offers advice and direction through professional staff and volunteers.
The professional staff and graduate assistants in the Office of Greek Life are Ball State’s liaisons to the fraternity and sorority community. They offer support, advice, and guidance to governing councils, chapter officers, advisors and members.
I am not Greek. How can I learn more about it?
We recommend these Web sites:
What is recruitment or rush or intake?
Fraternities and sororities at Ball State accept new members through a process called recruitment or intake. Rush is a slang term for recruitment and is really not used at Ball State.
There are two forms of recruitment: formal and informal. Formal recruitment is held near the beginning of the fall semester each year for Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Association groups and in the spring for IFC fraternities. The formal process lasts approximately a week and requires your son or daughter to attend recruitment events to get to know the fraternities or sororities. The Panhellenic sororities have a formal process only in the fall. During the spring, the sororities have informal recruitment (called COB or COR for short). This process is shorter and tends to be less of a time commitment but not all of the sororities participate in informal recruitment. At the end of recruitment, bids, or invitations to membership, are distributed and the new member orientation process begins. After completing the orientation, new members are initiated into the organization.
Participation in the membership intake process is required in order to join an NPHC organization. Intake occurs at various times throughout the year at the discretion of each organization. During intake, individuals participate in the new member orientation process and at its conclusion are initiated. It is heavily encouraged that students do extensive research into NPHC fraternity or sorority by visiting their websites and reading historical documents about each group, prior to contacting the organization.
What questions should my son or daughter ask before joining a fraternity or sorority?
- What is expected of fraternity or sorority members?
- How will membership affect my academics?
- What leadership opportunities are available to students as both new members and initiated
- Does the chapter perform hands-on community service? If so, how often?
- Does the fraternity or sorority require members to live in the facility (if housing is
available)? If so, for how long?
- What are the expenses associated with membership? How does this vary?
- What type of member is the chapter looking for?
- What values does this organization promote?
- Is the organization officially recognized by the university? If not, why is this the case?
- What is the time commitment?
- Describe the new member orientation process. What are the expectations of new members?
- What should I join your fraternity or sorority?
- How well do you know the members in your chapter?
- What benefits can your chapter offer me now and after I graduate?
- How involved are your alumni members?
- How is your chapter different than the others?
- Why did you join your chapter?
What will my son or daughter get out of fraternity or sorority membership that he or she would not get out of any other college organization?
The fraternity or sorority experience is multifaceted and offers numerous opportunities to your son or daughter.
Developing lifelong friendships with the members in an organization and other chapters helps make the campus seems smaller. For many members, these organizations become a home away from home. In addition to the brotherhood or sisterhood, every chapter is dedicated to enhancing leadership skills, academic success, giving back to local and national charities, developing financial responsibility and providing networking opportunities with Greek alumni around the country. When your student joins a Greek organization, he or she becomes a lifelong member and reaps the benefits of these opportunities well beyond his or her college years.
Also, if your son or daughter joins a chapter soon after starting college, the transition process can be made easier by having an instant connection to upperclassmen and various resources within the organization.
It will be up to your son or daughter to determine the level of involvement they want to have within the organization and what kind of experience it will be for him or her.
My son or daughter will make friends in his or her residence hall and classes. What would be different about fraternity or sorority friends?
Membership in a fraternity or sorority is a living and learning experience with shared values and objectives. Members learn to work together to develop and accomplish group goals. A common bond of brotherhood or sisterhood is developed among chapter members—a bond that extends to all who share the same heritage, traditions and ritual and who wear the same badge. These friendships last beyond the college years and are nurtured by alumni activities and networking programs that provide opportunities for continued camaraderie, service, and personal development.
Will my son or daughter's academics be compromised if he or she joins a fraternity or sorority?
The Greek community realizes the importance of a quality education so academic excellence is a priority.
All fraternity and sorority members are expected to fulfill their academic potential. Academic standards have been established and resources are available.
In addition, chapters have a faculty advisor or other advisor who focuses on the scholastic achievement of each member. Often chapters organize incentives and awards for members who have excelled academically.
Students who take advantage of the academic opportunities available and properly balance their time between academic and extracurricular pursuits will find that Greek membership will enhance their academic performance. Several studies have consistently found that fraternity and sorority members tend to be significantly more likely to graduate from their program and report more satisfaction with their university experience than unaffiliated students.
How much time does being a member require?
The time commitment varies from chapter to chapter, but the first semester is most time intensive as the new member goes through the chapter’s education program. The time spent in this program will give your son or daughter the opportunity to develop their leadership and time management skills, learn about the history and tradition of the organization, learn etiquette techniques, develop friendships with their new member class as well as the rest of the chapter and allow them to become involved in other activities and organizations.
After the initiation into the chapter, expectations will vary. Each chapter has weekly chapter meetings and other mandatory events (philanthropic events, service and initiation) throughout the year, but they are planned well in advance. The majority of Ball State fraternity and sorority members attend class full-time, work and are active in their chapter! The important thing to remember is the more your son or daughter puts in to the chapter, the more he or she will get out of being a member!
How will joining a chapter now benefit my son or daughter after college?
The lifelong friendships your son or daughter will make through his or her chapter can last into post college years. Greeks have national networks for members to use for securing jobs and advancing careers. Membership in a chapter can be a lifelong experience that the member and the fraternity or sorority enjoy together. Joining now is an investment in your student’s future, as he or she will reap the benefits now and for a lifetime. Wherever a member ends up after college, chances are he or she will be able to find other members of the same fraternity or sorority.
What is a philanthropy or service project?
Greek chapters make it part of their mission to support their national philanthropies (nonprofit causes) financially and physically. Throughout the year, each member of the chapter spends time fundraising and volunteering to further the cause of their national philanthropy. Many of the services benefit the Muncie and Ball State University communities. The time spent on these events is one of the many ways that fraternity brothers and sorority sisters can bond, while making a difference in the lives of others. Examples of some of the philanthropies and service projects include: Adopt-A-School, ALS Foundation (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Maine Sea Coast Mission, American Red Cross, Arrowmont School for the Arts & Crafts, Arthritis research, Children’s Miracle Network, Diabetes research, Girl Scouts USA, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Riley Hospital for Children, Special Olympics, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and YouthAIDS.
Aren’t fraternities and sororities just like the ones in the movies and on TV?
Unfortunately, individuals without complete information often define the image of fraternity and sorority life.
Greek organizations do hold social events, but many of these do not include alcohol. These events include educational programs and workshops, community service events, intramural sports, parent’s days, Homecoming, Greek Week and date events in addition to formals and mixers. However, alcohol and substance abuse are taken seriously and proactive measures such as educational workshops on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse are required. Ball State fraternities and sororities educate their members about the precautions that are necessary to ensure a safe environment at events; included in this education is the Greek community alcohol policy that guides the possession, use and consumption of alcohol at chapter houses and fraternity and sorority events. We do not tolerate hazing because it has no place in organizations based on mutual respect and shared values.
Whom do I contact with questions about Greek life?
If you have questions about Ball State Greek life that are not answered on this site, please contact our office. We'll be glad to help you.