For many parents and family members, fraternity and sorority life can be a bit of a mystery. New experiences can be overwhelming at first. Here are some of the most common questions we receive from family members.
When can my son or daughter join a fraternity or sorority?
First year students must wait until their second semester to join. Transfer students may request to join during their first semester at Geneseo. Recruitment (also referred to as “rush week” or “intake”) takes place within the first three weeks of each semester. Regardless of the time at which a student wishes to join, he or she must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be enrolled as a full time, undergraduate student (12 credit hours) at Geneseo
- Successful completion of at least 12 credit hours at Geneseo or another college/university
- A 2.0 minimum cumulative GPA, if a returning student, or a 3.25 minimum cumulative GPA if a first semester transfer student.
Remember, these requirements are minimum standards, so interested students should ask each organization about their specific requirements.
What do fraternities and sororities do? What are the benefits of joining?
Fraternities and sororities were first founded in the late 1700’s as opportunities for students to gather outside of the classroom to debate and discuss their coursework free from professors and other administrators. The first fraternities and sororities were founded at Geneseo in the 1870s and the Inter Greek Council was formed in 1915. As these literary societies evolved over time, friendship, campus leadership and service to others also became part of their organizational mission.
These concepts of leadership, scholarship, service and friendship for life still exist in today’s fraternities and sororities. No matter what fraternity or sorority a student may join, members participate in programs that encourage academic success, offer opportunities to serve the community, lead their peers and develop deep friendships. Membership in a fraternity or sorority lasts a lifetime. While other student organizations have a membership expiration date, fraternity/sorority membership goes with students as they graduate and begin their life’s work.
How will my son or daughter find the organization best suited for them?
Research before, and active participation during the recruitment period are the best strategies for finding a fraternity or sorority. Most students who join a fraternity or sorority do so in the second semester of their first year. During the first semester, students are encouraged to attend recruitment events and meet the members. During this time, it is important for your son/daughter to ask questions so they can begin to differentiate one chapter from another.
Important questions may include:
- How much are dues and fees?
- What exactly happens during the New Member process?
- What kind of scholarship program does the chapter offer?
- What activities is the chapter involved with on campus?
- What is the time commitment?
- What are the service projects this chapters conducts?
- How will membership in this specific fraternity/sorority benefit me?
- What is the chapter’s policy on hazing?
It is important to know a great deal about the chapter before deciding to join. Recruitment events provide a time for mutual learning, a time when chapters learn about the new students and the new students learn about the chapters. All chapters are different and by asking questions and noting the differences, your son/daughter will narrow their selection to the most appropriate chapter.
What is the difference between a recognized and unrecognized fraternity/sorority?
Recognized/registered fraternities/sororities work closely with the Office of Fraternal Life. They are held accountable to College policies and are able to participate in Fraternal Life and College sponsored programs.
Unrecognized fraternities/sororities are not subject to College policy nor are they monitored by the College. Groups that appear on the Unregistered list do not meet the College's standards for recognition and/or have lost recognition for failure to adhere to College policies. We strongly discourage students from joining these organizations. Visit our “Recognized Fraternities & Sororities” page for a full list of recognized and unrecognized fraternities and sororities.
My son/daughter has been asked to join a fraternity/sorority. Now what happens?
Once your son or daughter has decided to join, he or she will be known as a “new member “ (or associate, pledge, etc.) of the organization. The new member period is a time of learning – learning about how the organization is run, learning about the history of the organization, learning how to work within the larger membership, learning about yourself.
The new member program is designed by the fraternity/sorority and typically new members learn this information at a weekly meeting. You’ll likely hear your son or daughter talk about his or her “pledge sisters or pledge brothers” meaning those he/she has joined with, the “initiates” those who are already members and the New Member Educator – the student in charge of running the new member program.
What types of information should I have access to about this new organization my son/daughter has joined?
Typically at the first new member meeting of the semester the organization will supply your son or daughter with all of the information they need to know – a calendar of events, contact information for the student officers and alumni/ae advisors, a financial contract to sign and a list of expectations for the new member (typically this outlines the requirements he or she must meet before becoming a fully initiated member of the organization.)
All of this information can (and should) be shared with parents. In addition, your son or daughter should be able to direct you to the national and local websites so that you can begin to learn more about the organization he/she is joining.
What is the cost associated with joining a fraternity/sorority?
Fraternities/sororities are NOT funded by the College. Each chapter is self-supported through dues charged to all members. In the first semester of membership, new members may be assessed a number of one-time fees (pledge fee, initiation fee, badge fee, insurance). After the initial fees are paid, your son/daughter’s only required expenses will be their regular chapter dues.
What is my role as a parent?
Take the time to find out more about the fraternity/sorority community at Geneseo. Ask questions about what the organizations will offer your son/daughter and allow them to make the best decision for themselves.
Once your son/daughter joins, continue to be observant and ask questions. Here are a few suggestions to help ease your son/daughter’s transition to both the College and their new fraternity or sorority.
- Encourage him/her to attend programs sponsored by their new chapter and the Office of Fraternal Life.
- Know the name and contact information for the chapter president, new member educator and chapter advisor.
- Ask for details about the financial aspect of membership. If you are providing financial assistance, you have the right to know. Many one time fees are paid during the first semester of membership, so expect the first few months to be the most expensive.
- Stay in touch with phone calls, emails & text messages.
- Attend parent/family activities, as well as other special events, sponsored by the chapter.
- Expect to see numerous new t-shirts, photos and fraternity/sorority paraphernalia.
- Encourage your son/daughter to be a part of the College community and to take advantage of its many resources.
Who is actually in charge of the fraternities and sororities?
Individual chapters elect officers to manage the day to day operations of the chapter. These officers are often assisted by alumni who act as advisors. Each chapter is also responsible to report to their inter/national organization (if applicable), which offers support, advise and direction through paid professional staff and regional volunteers.
The Geneseo Office of Fraternal Life provides advise and support the recognized fraternities/sororities. You can contact the office at 585-245-5968.
My son/daughter participated in recruitment but wasn’t asked to join. Why? Now what?
Our fraternities and sororities are private membership organizations and are under no obligation to explain why a student wasn’t offered an invitation to membership, so our office staff will never know the reason why a student wasn’t asked to join.
In some cases the reason is clear – i.e. the student didn’t meet the academic requirement or student had not met enough of the members yet. We suggest that parents and students consider this to be similar to what happens in a job interview. An applicant might have a great resume, but the interview might not go well. Or, the candidate could be a great interview but not have the right credentials. If your student wishes to keep looking for a fraternity/sorority experience he or she can participate in recruitment during the next semester. If not, but they’d still like to be involved in campus in some way, you might want to encourage them to think about any of the other 200+student organizations and clubs on campus.
What sort of things might my son/daughter experience as a new member?
The new member process can take no longer then six weeks as per College policy. Your son or daughter should receive a calendar of events from the New Member Educator (the student charged with the responsibility of administering the new member program) at their first meeting.
Typically you can expect your son or daughter to have a weekly meeting with the rest of the students who are joining and the New Member Educator. At these meetings students usually participate in teambuilders, learn fraternity/sorority history, organizational structure, talk about the requirements they must meet in order to become an initiated member, etc. Nothing in these meetings is secret.
Most new members participate in an academic program through the organization (tutoring with an older member, attending study hours at the library, submitting copies of their grades throughout the semester). They are also doing community service, attending some sort of leadership programming (a retreat, workshops, educational speakers) and are likely attending social events.
Again, none of these things are secret, no meetings or events should run past midnight or be held before 7am and all events should be talked about well in advance with the students so that they can adjust their schedule accordingly.
What about hazing?
Hazing is against Geneseo College Policy as against the law in New York. It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, for individuals and groups engaging in such. Any chapter who violates this policy will be given due process and if found responsible may be subjected to organizational and/or individual sanctions.
If you believe your son/daughter is the victim of hazing, we urge you to report your concerns immediately to the Office of Fraternal Life or University Policy.
Who can my son/daughter talk to if they have a problem while they are a new member?
There are several people your son or daughter can speak with if they have problems or questions:
- Chapter Advisor (an adult advisor to the organization who is a member of the fraternity/sorority)
- Chapter President (the student elected by the organization for the semester/year to lead the membership)
- New Member Educator (the student elected to administer the new member program)
- Office of Fraternal Life
- Contact info (phone and email) for the Advisor, President and New Member Educator should be given to the new members at the first meeting of the new member program.
Is there anything my son or daughter cannot tell me about the fraternity or sorority?
No. The only secret information is that which is learned at the official initiation ceremony held at the end of the new member education period. All other information should be easily obtainable by your son/daughter and shared with you.
What if my son/daughter wants to quit the sorority or fraternity?
On occasion, students feel it necessary to quit their new fraternity or sorority. It may be that the time commitment proves to be challenging, the financial obligation is too expensive or the student believes he or she has made the wrong choice in organizations, etc. If the student has made a choice to quit, he/she can do so by speaking with the Chapter Advisor, Chapter President or New Member Educator.
Some organizations hold an “exit interview” to find out why the student is leaving, others may have paperwork for the organization that the departing new member must complete. Either way, the student can leave the organization, but should understand that in most cases any money that has been paid to the group cannot be refunded and that the organization will likely ask for certain items to be returned, like a new member manual of information or the new member pin.
When is my son/daughter finished with the new member program? What happens when the program is completed?
Again, the maximum time for an organization to administer a new member program is six weeks. At the end of the six weeks the new members must be initiated, which means that they must participate in the formal ceremony that confers full membership on him/her. The date of the initiation ceremony is not to be a secret from the new members or their families.
My son/daughter wants to move into the fraternity/sorority house. What should I expect?
Fraternity/sorority housing is either owned privately run by an alumni house corporation or in most cases, rented by the students from a landlord. None of the fraternity/sorority houses are owned or operated by the College.
A House Association or House Corporation (an arm of the organization) or landlord is responsible for the execution of leases, the collection of rent and/or the administration of any policies regarding the need for members to live in the chapter’s facility. You should expect to obtain a copy of the lease before your son/daughter signs it, you should expect to be able to have questions answered by the property owner and you should understand the conduct or situations that might give the organization cause to break that lease with your student. The lease your son/daughter signs is a legal document and they will be expected to honor all provisions outlined in the lease, including the payment of rent in a timely manner.