Aerial photograph of the Immaculate Conception Chapel

Greek Terms

Here are a few terms that will help you understand Fraternity and Sorority Life and recruitment a little bit better.

Active: A person who has been initiated into a fraternity or a sorority. Generally, the term is used to reference a member who is currently an undergraduate. However, it is preferable to use the terms "undergraduate member" or "student member" for those still in school.

Affiliation: The fraternity or sorority to which the individual belongs.

Alumna:  An initiated member of a sorority who is no longer in college. The plural form is alumnae

Alumnus ("Alum"): An initiated member of a fraternity who is no longer in college. The plural form is alumni.

Bid: A formal invitation to join a fraternity or sorority. 

Chapter: The local group of an (inter)national fraternity or sorority.  Within each organization, chapters are usually referenced by state and/or Greek letters. For example, Maryland Sigma Chapter or Alpha Delta Chapter

Chapter Advisor: An alumnus who establishes and maintains a close advisory relationship with a chapter and serves as a teacher, counselor, and friend.

Colony: A student organization in the final stage prior to being installed as a chartered chapter of a fraternity or a sorority.

Dues: The fees of a sorority or fraternity membership.

Formal Recruitment: The period set aside for sorority membership selection.

Fraternity: The name applied to Greek organizations, including sororities.  Informally, it refers to men's groups.

Hazing: See Statement on Hazing

IFC:  The Interfraternity Council.  IFC is the governing board for the mens fraternity community. 

Informal Recruitment: A year-round (or extended period) of continuous recruitment with no specific, scheduled, system-wide activities. Bids may be extended and accepted at any time. This is also known as "Open Recruitment."

Initiation: The formal ceremony during which a potential member takes the final vows for full membership into a Values-Based Greek Letter organization.  

Legacy:  A person whose mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, or sister or brother was a member of a certain Greek organization.

New Member: A member of a sorority or fraternity who is not yet initiated. Also known as pledges or associate members.

NIC: The North-American Interfraternity Conference.  A national organization composed of 72 men's fraternities.

NPC: The National Panhellenic Conference.  A national organization composed of the 26 (inter)nationally recognized women's fraternities. 

NPHC: The National Pan-Hellenic Council. A national organization composed of 9 Historically Black Greek Letter fraternities and sororities.

Panhellenic Council:  The local coordinating and governing organization for sororities.  The word Panhellenic means All Greek.

Philanthropy: A charity sponsored by individual chapters.  

Potential New Member (PNM):  An undergraduate collegiate man or woman who participates in recruitment/intake.

Recruitment Guide: (Rho Gamma) A collegiate woman who is available to answer any questions a potential new member may have about recruitment.  As a representative of the Panhellenic Council, she has disaffiliated from her chapter during and proceeding the formal recruitment period. 

Ritual: Rituals are traditional beliefs of a sorority or fraternity.