Do you have questions about Greek life?
Here are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how to join, fraternity and sorority housing, and other considerations before becoming a member.
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.
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.
What questions should I 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?
- Why 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?
Why do people join fraternities and sororities?
Fraternities and sororities enable students to meet many people through social events, service projects, recruitment and intramural events. Students quickly become connected to the university and tapped into the available resources. Joining a Greek organization is one way to make Ball State seem smaller, friendlier and easier to handle – it gives you a place and people to count on. Fraternities and sororities strive to enhance your college experience by challenging you to achieve academic excellence, develop your leadership potential and give back to the local community. Membership in a fraternity or sorority is a lifelong commitment; relationships created during college last well beyond graduation.
What is it like to be involved in a fraternity or sorority?
The Greek community is a diverse group of men and women. The first Greek organization was founded in 1776, when students realized a need to discuss current events outside the classroom. Greek societies have since taken on a broader role to develop the moral, leadership and social skills of their members. Each individual fraternity and sorority possesses a set of principles that guide the actions of its members.
Ball State’s Greek community, founded in 1919, provides members with academic, leadership, social, and educational opportunities that contribute to a well-rounded university experience. It comprises over 16.9 percent of the student population. There are 31 inter/national organizations, including 13 fraternities, 11 sororities, and 7 NPHC organizations. Many of the members of Greek chapters are also leaders on campus in a wide range of student organizations and on athletic teams.
Greeks participate in many activities on campus and in the community. For many students, the Greek social life helps make attending the university a more fulfilling experience. Greek organizations provide a calendar of social activities including formals, homecoming, mixers, athletic activities, retreats, informal get-togethers, and other special events. In addition to social activities, fraternity and sorority members are the leaders in many campus organizations and are especially active in Student Government Association.
Finally, community service is an important aspect of fraternity and sorority life. Every Greek organization has an official charity to raise funds and awareness for. It is safe to say that no other segment of the student population has dedicated more time and resources, or has raised more money for charity than the members of our Greek community. From volunteering in regional hospitals and food banks, to giving blood, to raising money for charities such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or the Children’s Miracle Network and Dance Marathon, Ball State’s fraternities and sororities are lending a helping hand.
If I'm new to campus, should I wait before I join?
Adjusting to college life can be a challenge for many students. By joining a fraternity or sorority your first semester, you can have an immediate family of friends, all willing to help you cope with the challenges of college life and experiences you’ll face. The sooner you know more people, the more comfortable you will feel on campus. By joining your first year, you will find adjusting to life in Muncie a lot easier. Most members who don’t join their first year wished they had.
If you don’t feel comfortable joining your first year, it is perfectly understandable. The Greek organizations are open to having upper classmen join.
What and when is intake?
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 is recruitment or rush?
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 Council groups and in the spring for IFC fraternities. The formal process lasts approximately a week and requires the student 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.
Do I need a recommendation letter to join in a Panhellenic sorority?
Chapters at Ball State do not require recommendation letters from alumnae of their organizations in order to participate in recruitment. While you are not responsible for collecting recommendations, you can request one from an alumna from any of the sororities you will be visiting during formal recruitment. The alumna does not have to be a member of the Ball State chapter of their sorority. If you do acquire these recommendation letters, they should be sent directly to the chapter.
How do I determine which organization is best for me?
Each organization is founded on different beliefs and values. Whether to join a large or small organization, a culturally based group or a general fraternity or sorority, a newly formed organization or one that has been around for fifty years...it is simply a matter of personal preference. Each organization has its own advantages. Selecting a fraternity or sorority is like choosing friends – pick the group with which you feel most comfortable.
All fraternities and sororities share the values of scholarship, leadership, service, and brotherhood or sisterhood. As you attend various recruitment events, it is important that you ask the questions about things that are important to you: costs, activities, scholarship, philanthropy, etc. Perhaps most importantly, make the decision on your own. Even though your roommate, best friend, or the group of people you attend recruitment events with has decided on a particular fraternity or sorority, you do not have to. Your friends should always be your friends; the choice of fraternity or sorority is completely yours.
Aren’t fraternities and sororities just like the ones in the movies and on TV?
The image of Greek life is often defined by individuals without complete information. Fictional accounts from Greeks, Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Stomp the Yard, Legally Blonde, Old School, or even Road Trip as well as some stories in the news media tend to exaggerate or distort the social aspect of Greek life and do not always show all aspects of fraternity and sorority membership.
The social aspect of Greek life is one of the many reasons that students choose to join fraternities and sororities. However, alcohol and substance abuse are taken seriously and proactive measures such as educational workshops on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse are administered on a semester basis. Ball State fraternities and sororities educate their members about the procedures necessary to ensure a safe environment at events; included in this education is the Greek community alcohol policy that outlines expectations on 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.
Will Greek membership affect my 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 skills workshops.
Students 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 the All Campus GPA for 25 consecutive semesters.
How much time does fraternity or sorority membership require?
Like most other worthwhile extracurricular activities, how much you get out of your Greek membership is related to how much you put into it. The time commitments vary from chapter to chapter.
New members attend a variety of activities to meet other chapter members, learn about the organization’s history and values and develop leadership skills. Each chapter has a weekly chapter meeting, fundraising events, community service projects, educational programs and other events that members are expected to attend.
These events are planned in advance to allow members time for studying, involvement in other organizations, work and other activities. Time spent at chapter events ensures you are getting the most out of the organization.
Whether it is planning a social event, a community service project, or regular weekly meetings, fraternity and sorority members have learned to balance their time with other commitments like homework, relationships and jobs. Commuting students specifically gain a home-away-from-home that enables them to be part of Ball State life. Be sure to ask questions regarding time commitments during recruitment.
Will Greek life help me find a job?
One of the tremendous assets of affiliation with a Greek letter organization is the nationwide network of alumni members of the organization. As a student prepares for entry into the career world, alumni members can assist in job placement through their knowledge of where jobs are and who is hiring.
Greek life will assist students in developing transferable skills that will be needed in the career world, such as management, leadership development, communications, and more! Fraternities and sororities provide you the opportunity to gain skills you will be able to list on a resume and speak about in an interview.
Fraternities and sororities are families, communities, and some are legal corporations with annual operating budgets of over $50,000. Many members live and learn to work within this environment. Officers within each chapter are elected to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees and by alumni who act as advisors. Many organizations have regional and international leadership conferences where students learn a variety of leadership skills. Members also can serve on a variety of university and Greek council governance, judicial, and other Greek life subcommittees. All of this will help you as you enter the job market in a few years.
Does it cost a lot to be Greek?
The financial commitment of joining the Greek community is a positive return on investment in your future. The perception that the Greek community is only an option for financially wealthy students is widespread but false. The benefits are endless and revolve around 5 main objectives including:
Each chapter is self-supported through dues paid by all members. Dues are used to sponsor social events, membership recruitment, educational programs, and philanthropic projects.
Cost of Joining*
Financial obligations vary by chapter, although annual expenses in the first year of membership average approximately $900 for sororities and $800.00 for fraternities. Financial obligations after the first year of membership decrease and average around $500 for sororities and $475 for fraternities. The financial obligations do not include cost of living in a chapter house.
*Financial statistics are for Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities and Panhellenic Council (PHC) sororities. National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) fraternities and sororities are not included in the figures above. For more information about costs for NPHC fraternities and sororities, please contact the individual NPHC fraternities and sororities. You can find their contact information within their chapter profiles on our website.
Cost of Living in a Residence
The cost of living in a fraternity house tends to be more cost efficient compared to living in a residence hall. Monthly rates averages $500/month, although some organizations include a meal plan.
You should inquire about individual fee structures and housing costs during the recruitment process or contact the individual organizations for more information.
Do fraternities and sororities provide housing? Must I live in the house to join?
Since recruitment occurs during the semester, new students should secure their own housing for the fall semester. Typically, freshmen and sophomores who purchase the Office of Housing and Residence Life Premium Plan live on-campus in residence halls, and many move into fraternity houses their sophomore year and some stay their junior and senior years. It is important to take into consideration whether you want to live in a fraternity house your sophomore year before signing the Office of Housing and Residence Life Premium Plan. (For more information about the Residence Life & Housing Premium Plan or annual contracts, please visit the Office of Housing and Residence Life Web site.) At this time, there are no official sorority houses.
When you can move into a fraternity house varies by chapter. Freshmen are required to live in the residence halls for their first year. For more information please review the Office of Housing and Residence Life residency requirement.
Less than half of the members of Greek organizations live in the chapter houses in any given semester, although most members do live in the chapter house for part of their tenure at Ball State. Most fraternities require members, except for local students who live at their parents’ home, to reside in the chapter house for a minimum of one or two years.
My parents do not like the idea of me joining a fraternity/sorority. How I can offer them reassurance?
If your parents have specific questions or concerns, we can help you answer them. Some commonly asked questions by parents and families are included in our section for parents on our website. There are numerous undergraduate leaders, alumni, fraternity or sorority inter/national headquarters staff, University administrators and even other parents who are more than willing to share their personal insights and experiences with your parents. If your parents have additional questions have them contact the Office of Greek Life. If the question is about a specific fraternity or sorority have them contact the chapter advisor for the organization.
What is hazing and is it permitted at Ball State?
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 have banned hazing. Ball State University and the Greek councils rigorously enforce hazing policies and organizations that violate them are subject to serious and immediate sanctions.
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. Fraternity and sorority initiation ceremonies are, in most cases, single day events.
If you are not permitted to talk to friends or family for extended periods of time, hazing may be an issue, or if you suspect hazing is happening in a Greek fraternity or sorority at Ball State, you should contact the Office of Greek Life. You can also call l-888-NOT-HAZE, or 1-888-668-4293, an anti-hazing hotline established by fraternities or sororities that anyone can use to report incidents of hazing anonymously.
Are there a lot of alcohol and substance abuse associated with fraternities?
The social aspect of Greek life is one of the many reasons that students get involved in fraternities and sororities; however, alcohol and substance abuse is not tolerated. 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.
Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and Panhellenic Council - the governing boards for the fraternities and sororities, 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/neophyte shall permit, tolerate encourage or participate in "drinking games"; and no alcohol shall be present at any pledge/associate member/new member/neophyte 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.
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.