New college freshmen are often somewhat confused and surprised once they land on a college campus by all of the Greek sorority and fraternity signs, frat and sorority houses and ‘Rush’ parties. Greek life is a integral part of any college campus and the traditions run deep.
There are two basic types of sororities and fraternities. The honor fraternities allow both men and women to join because they are based on academic excellence. Most universities have a good deal of honor fraternities that are each based on a particular major or field of study. A student may be accepted into the music fraternity for example. All fraternities and sororities have Greek names. Sororities are traditionally for women while most fraternities are for men, with the exception of the academic fraternities which allow both sexes to become members.
Social fraternities and sororities abound on college campuses all across the United States. Some of the most common and largest groups include the Alpha Phi and the Chi Omega. Alpha Phi is a women’s social fraternity that is based on sisterly unity. This fraternity was founded back in 1872 by women at Syracuse University and it is one of the oldest fraternities in North America.
Chi Omega is also a women’s social fraternity and is the largest member of the National Panhellenic Conference. Chi Omega has its headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee and has over 170 chapters across North America.
Most college communities have several fraternities and sororities for students to join. Most have study programs, do charity work and hold social events. At the beginning of a school year, campus chapters hold what is called ‘Rush Week’ wherein interested students can visit the clubs. The ‘pledges’ or students who are interested in joining a particular fraternity or sorority, do all sorts of crazy activities in order to be inducted. It is customary for sorority and fraternity members to give a custom gift to the new members. The most traditional gifts that are given are Greek paddles. These are wooden paddles that can be personalized with the organization’s crest, Greek letters, the recipient’s name as well as a message and date.
Today, there are more cultural-interest sororities and fraternities being formed on a growing number of college campuses. These organizations cater to a specific cultural interests such as Asian American women or Latino men. Multicultural sororities and fraternities do not encourage a particular cultural interest but rather recruit multiple cultures. Generally speaking, the larger the university the greater the number of fraternities and sororities there are on campus.