Fraternities and Sororities
Parents' Frequently Asked Questions
Parents often have questions about the Greek Community on campus, so the Parent Program has worked with the leadership of the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils to address some of the most commonly asked questions. For more information, see the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life as well as the U of M BeGreek website.
Q: My student is thinking of joining a fraternity/sorority. What is the process?
A: Joining a fraternity or sorority is a mutual selection process. For fraternities it is best for your son to visit several chapters in order to find the best fit for him. After multiple visits the chapter may choose to offer your son a bid. With the sororities, women have the opportunity to visit every chapter during formal recruitment. After several visits to each chapter, your daughter will have the opportunity to select her top three choices, and she will then be matched up through the mutual selection process.
Q: What are the benefits for my student in joining a fraternity or sorority?
A: The University of Minnesota is a large campus, and joining a chapter allows your student to become part of a close, tight-knit support group within the larger campus. By being part of the Greek community, students have a chance to create bonds with people who have similar values and goals, while also finding leadership opportunities throughout the campus and the Twin Cities community. Members say that they have met some of their best friends and created some of their favorite memories while being a part of their chapter.
Q: What are the financial obligations of Greek membership?
A: A common misconception is that being a part of a fraternity or sorority is financially burdensome and unaffordable. There are membership dues that your son or daughter will be responsible for paying each semester, but the upside is that there are several opportunities to receive scholarships within the community. National organizations, councils, and individual chapters offer scholarships. If your student chooses to live in the chapter house, dues and living expenses may turn out to be lower than the cost of living in the residence halls.
Q: Can my son or daughter be a part of a chapter if they live at home?
A: Of course! Greek membership can be a valuable experience, regardless of whether the student is living at home, in a residence hall, or in a fraternity or sorority chapter house. As a commuter, your son or daughter would be responsible for paying his or her chapter dues, but would not be responsible for paying room and board. Most chapters offer a certain number of meals per week as well a “townie room” where chapter members who live out of the house can stay if they decide to spend the night on campus. Off-campus students find Greek membership provides them with a place to hang out between classes, a place to study, and a support group of friends.
Q: How much of a concern is alcohol at fraternities and sororities at the University of Minnesota?
A: While it's true that alcohol can be a problem on college campuses, U of M fraternities and sororities are required to follow strict and detailed risk management policies established by both their respective inter/national organizations and governing councils. In addition, fraternities and sororities provide educational opportunities for their members to make good choices through partnerships and programs with Boynton Health Service, Health Advocate program, the Public Health 1003 (Alcohol & College Life) course, Student Network for Abuse Prevention (SNAP), and more. Additionally, some organizations require their members to participate in the AlcoholEdu online course.
Q: Is hazing a concern for fraternities and sororities at the University of Minnesota?
A: The University of Minnesota, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council have a zero tolerance policy with regard to hazing. No member is allowed to take part in any form of hazing as a new or current member of his or her chapter. Hazing also is against the state law of Minnesota. Additional information, including the state law against hazing, can be found on the StopHazing website. Students who feel they are being subjected to hazing are urged to speak up immediately or to notify the Student Activities Office at 612-626-6919 or the University Police at 624-COPS (2677). If you suspect your student has been or is being hazed, you are also urged to call the Student Activities Office or the University Police.
Q: Why are there some things fraternity and sorority members can’t talk about? What’s the big secret?
A: It is understandable that you as parents might be concerned if you hear that some of the things that go on during your son or daughter’s 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. Fraternity and sorority initiation ceremonies are, in most cases, single day events. If your student is not permitted to talk to you for extended periods of time, hazing may be an issue, and you should contact the appropriate authorities.
Q: Is it safe to live off campus in the Greek community?
A: Chapter houses are located primarily along University Avenue or a short distance from campus. Some are on the St. Paul campus. For those chapter houses that are a short distance from campus, there are several resources available to your student. Chapters usually have lists of people who are willing to give rides or escort chapter members to and from classes. Also, the Escort Service is available by calling 624-WALK. This resource is provided by the University of Minnesota and provides escort service for students going between campus and their chapter houses and homes near campus. In addition, several members of the Panhellenic Council have been working with the Minneapolis City Council to install improved lighting throughout the neighborhood and in darker areas around campus. Campus safety issues are a priority for the Greek community.
Q: How will being Greek affect my student’s grades?
A: Some parents worry that the extra social events and responsibilities of being in a fraternity or sorority might take away from their student’s time for academics. Being Greek is a time commitment, but one of the core values of fraternities and sororities is academic excellence. Each chapter sets standards for academic expectations. If members do not meet their requirements, there are several resources available for students to receive assistance. Often chapters organize incentives and awards for the most improved GPAs or the best GPAs. Study exchanges and competitions are also very common. The Greek community realizes the importance of a quality education, and academic excellence is a priority.
Q: Are there specific honor societies for Greek students?
A: Your student will have the opportunity to join Rho Lambda, Order of Omega, and other Greek honor societies. Membership for these groups is based on academic excellence as well as student involvement.
See BeGreek for more information on the U of M Greek community.