Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I join a Penn State fraternity?
Joining a fraternity at Penn State will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Sororities and fraternities have a rich history at Penn State dating back to the 1870s. These organizations are rooted in founding principles that foster academic achievement, student involvement, community service, and life-long friendships. Fraternities and sororities are groups of men and women who come together to form a personal network of individuals with similar ideas, interests, and a mutual pursuit of a well-rounded college education. Advantages include:
A support group to help make the adjustment to college easier
Scholastic resources to help student achieve their academic goals
Leadership skills acquired through hands-on experience
Encouragement to get involved and maximize their potential on campus
Opportunities for active participation in community service projects
How will joining a fraternity or sorority affect my studies?
Fraternities serve as a great resource for students academically through study hours and tutoring programs. Most chapters require a high grade point average for initial membership into the organization. All chapters at Penn State are required to hold a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5; however, many of our chapters pride themselves on their outstanding academic achievements because they hold grade point averages much higher than the minimum requirement.
Aren’t fraternities and sororities just like the ones in the movies and tv?
Unfortunately, individuals without complete information often define the image of Greek life. Since only a small percent of the population is Greek, most people don’t have first-hand experience and stereotypes are the norm. Greek organizations do hold social events, but most of these do not include alcohol. These “social” events include educational programs/workshops, community service events, intramural sports, Parent’s Days, Homecoming, Greek Week, Greek Sing, and date events in addition to parties and mixers. Today’s Greek communities across the nation have adopted a stringent approach to socializing thereby creating a safer, more beneficial environment for its members. There are strict guidelines and procedures concerning the availability of alcohol at chapter events, and these rules are enforced by the inter/national organizations, the University, and by internal chapter standards.
Doesn’t membership cost a lot of money?
The perception that fraternities and sororities are only an option for “rich” students is widespread and false. Greek organizations are quite affordable and fees go towards services and events that will positively impact your child. Each chapter is self-supported through dues charged to all members. Also, chapters have payment plans that can be arranged to reduce to ease that responsibility.
Who actually is in charge of the organization, and is there outside support?
Students elected to officer positions manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees, so everyone is involved in and exposed to leadership positions. Each member learns cooperation, communication, and planning skills. Alumni act as advisers, and some chapters have alumni advisory boards that work with its members. Each group is governed by its inter/national headquarters, which established their chapter’s regulations, and offers advice and direction through professional staff and volunteers.
The Interfraternity Council is a self-governing entity, consisting of all chapter presidents and a non-voting executive board. Additionally, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life staff consists of professional liaisons to the Greek community, offering support, advice and guidance to governing councils, chapter officers, advisers, and members.
What about pledging or hazing?
All new fraternity and sorority members experience a period of orientation. During this time, new members will meet to learn about the fraternity’s local and national history as well as the active brotherhood. They may participate in community service projects and activities designed to build friendships among new members and initiated members.
Penn State has a zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing that is consistent with state law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Hazing includes any activity that subjects members to harassment, ridicule, intimidation, physical exhaustion, abuse, or mental distress. Hazing is contrary to the purposes of the fraternity and sorority community and the University; therefore, it is not tolerated.
If you sense your student may be participating in inappropriate activities as a result of membership in a fraternity or sorority, you should contact the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life immediately. All calls will be handled in a discreet manner, or you can now confidentially report the hazing incident online.