by Tenea McGhee
When deciding to join a fraternity or sorority, some see it as though you are just “paying for friends”. However, membership is so much more than just a circle of friends. It’s an opportunity to invest in an enhanced version of yourself! It’s the opportunity to learn transferable skills to help you in the classroom and in your future career once you graduate. It’s building meaningful connections with people to create community and access resources that can help broaden your personal/professional efforts. It’s an opportunity to engage in local and international action-oriented platforms that impact the world!
And so, if joining a fraternal organization can do all these things, then it is crucial you take the time to assess the best option for you!
Yes, you may have been drawn to an organization based on someone you met, someone influential in your community, or someone in your family. However, identifying the RIGHT organization that aligns with your identity is just as important. As a new or returning student, deciding to join a Greek-lettered social/service organization shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sometimes people look at what’s popular, stereotypes, and reputations. Phired Up wants to provide you with practical steps to find and align with your next best fraternity or sorority.
Step 1: Identify if sorority and/or fraternity are right for you!
Sorority and fraternity can be for anyone, but sorority and fraternity life is not for everyone. We know that obtaining membership in a fraternal organization is a great opportunity. And we also know that it is not the only opportunity available on campus. When seeking whether fraternity and sorority life is for you and which Greek-lettered organization (GLO) to join, some will say, “Do your research”.
What that means is to take the time to look on the internet to learn more about that organization. Identify books that help broaden your perspective on what joining a fraternity is all about i.e., Divine 9, Bound By Might Vow: Sisterhood and Women’s Fraternities, 1870-1920, Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century, and Brothers and Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities.
Step 2: Explore your options.
When looking at all the different GLOs on your campus, it can look like a Cheesecake Factory Menu; they all start to look the same! So, start by looking at your Sorority and Fraternity Life/Greek Life, Multicultural Student Life, or Student Activities Office (*Different organizations can be housed in different departments.) There are several types of GLOs; honor societies, professional/business, special interests i.e., music, service, etc.
As a result, you will need to narrow down your options based on which GLOs align with who you are or who you want to be. Search your campus website for fraternal councils, umbrella organizations that unite common interest fraternal groups:
Multicultural Greek Council-MGC (*Different identity than NMGC) /United Greek Council-UGC/Inter-Cultural Greek Council-ICGC: Co-ed councils that represent fraternities and sororities that uplift and advocates for the celebration of multicultural and ethnic-based identities, i.e., Asian/Multicultural/Latinx/Cultural Interest, by way of academic success, community service, social justice advocacy, and multi/cultural awareness.
Interfraternity Council/IFC: exist to promote the shared interests and values of their member fraternities through leadership, service, brotherhood, and scholarship. They believe in Fraternity and that the shared values of Fraternity drive the IFC to create better communities, better chapters, and better men.
National Pan-Hellenic Council NPHC/Divine 9/D9: The purpose of the NPHC shall be to foster cooperative actions of its nine (9) historically, but not exclusively, African American fraternities and sororities in dealing with matters of mutual concern; community service, academic excellence, and social justice advocacy designed to enrich the African American experience.
National Panhellenic Conference/College Panhellenic Council/PHC: 26 national and international member organizations that are autonomous, women’s-only social sororities. NPC’s core values are friendship, leadership, service, knowledge, integrity, and community that guides them in fulfilling their mission.
Step 3: Know your worth!
Joining a fraternity or sorority shouldn’t change who you are. Instead, it should enhance who you are. Therefore, just as organizations seek out the right people to be a part of their organizations, you should be exploring organizations to see if they are just an organization with a mission or an organization on a mission.
When it’s time for membership, some organizations will rise to the occasion to put on a show. However, we highly suggest that you observe what they do before formal membership starts.
Are they actively engaged in the community?
Do they promote academics, but their chapter GPA does not reflect it?
Are they authentic in their interactions with you to establish a socially excellent relationship?
When you look deeper into who the organization is, what they stand for, and what they represent beyond just their membership recruitment period you will be able to see if there are better organizations for you and your needs.
Overall, college can be a time to explore and define who you seek to be. Aligning with a fraternity or sorority can help you invest to the next best version of yourself!