Jump to navigation Jump to search This article is about the student fraternities and sororities in North America. Similar, but much less common, organizations also exist for what is the history of the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, and what is its official animal? school students.
In modern usage, “Greek letter organization” is often synonymous with the terms “fraternity” and “sorority”. Two additional types of fraternities, professional fraternities and honor societies, incorporate some limited elements of traditional fraternity organization but are generally considered a different type of association. Generally, membership in a fraternity or sorority is obtained as an undergraduate student but continues, thereafter, for life. Some of these organizations can accept graduate students as well as undergraduates, per constitutional provisions. The fraternity system in North America began at the College of William and Mary in 1750. The first fraternity in North America to incorporate most of the elements of modern fraternities was Phi Beta Kappa, founded at the College of William and Mary in 1775.
The founding of Phi Beta Kappa followed the earlier establishment of two other secret student societies that had existed at that campus as early as 1750. In 1825 Kappa Alpha Society, the oldest extant fraternity to retain its social characteristic, was established at Union College. Fraternities represented the intersection between dining clubs, literary societies, and secret initiatory orders such as Freemasonry. 1851 with the formation of the Adelphean Society Alpha Delta Pi, though fraternity-like organizations for women didn’t take their current form until the establishment of Pi Beta Phi in 1867 and Kappa Alpha Theta in 1870. The development of “fraternities for women” during this time was a major accomplishment in the way of women’s rights and equality. In 1867 the Chi Phi fraternity established its Theta chapter at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, marking the first foray of the American social fraternity outside the borders of the United States.
Army soldiers, presumably members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, display that fraternity’s flag in Iraq in 2009. Nine years following Chi Phi’s abortive colonization of the University of Edinburgh, a second attempt was made to transplant the fraternity system outside the United States. In 1879 Zeta Psi established a chapter at the University of Toronto. Numerous Greek organizations in the past have enacted formal and informal prohibitions on pledging individuals of different races and cultural backgrounds.
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The first multicultural sorority, Mu Sigma Upsilon was established in November 1981 at Rutgers University. The formation of this Greek organization allowed for the emergence of a multicultural fraternity and sorority movement, giving birth to a multicultural movement. Fraternities and sororities traditionally have been single-sex organizations, with fraternities consisting exclusively of men and sororities consisting exclusively of women. Since the mid-20th century a small number of fraternities, such as Alpha Theta and Lambda Lambda Lambda, have opted to become co-educational and admit female members. Much more commonly, coed fraternities exist in the form of “service” fraternities such as Alpha Phi Omega, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Alpha Tau Mu, and others. In 2016, Chi Phi began allowing transgender members, or those identifying as male, to join the social fraternity. Most Greek letter organizations select potential members through a two-part process of vetting and probation, called rushing and pledging, respectively, though the terms recruitment and new member period are preferred today.
A new member period may last anywhere from one weekend to several months. During this time new members might participate in almost all aspects of the life of the fraternity or sorority, but most likely not be permitted to hold office in the organization. At the conclusion of the new member period a second vote of members may sometimes be taken, often, but not always, using a blackball system. Many Greek-letter organizations give preferential consideration for pledging to candidates whose father or brother or, in the case of sororities, mother or sister was a member of the same fraternity or sorority. Such prospective candidates are known as “legacies. Membership in more than one fraternity or sorority is almost always prohibited.
Recently, some Greek-letter organizations have replaced the term “pledge” with that of “associate member” or “new member”. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, in 2014, abolished pledging altogether. Potential members are now immediately initiated into the fraternity upon accepting a bid. At some, often small, colleges, fraternities and sororities occupy a specific section of university-owned housing provided to them. With a few exceptions, most fraternities and sororities are secret societies. While the identity of members or officers is rarely concealed, fraternities and sororities initiate members following the pledge period through sometimes elaborate private rituals, frequently drawn or adopted from Masonic ritual practice or that of the Greek mysteries.
At the conclusion of an initiation ritual, the organization’s secret motto, secret purpose, and secret identification signs, such as handshakes and passwords, are usually revealed to its new members. Some fraternities also teach initiates an identity search device used to confirm fellow fraternity members. I was initiated into a college secret society—a couple of hours of grotesque and good-humored rodomontade and horseplay, in which I cooperated as in a kind of pleasant nightmare, confident, even when branded with a red-hot iron or doused head-over heels in boiling oil, that it would come out all right. Meetings and rituals are sometimes conducted in what is known as a “chapter room” located inside the fraternity’s house. Entry into chapter rooms is often prohibited to all but the initiated. The fraternity or sorority badge is an enduring symbol of membership in a Greek letter organization.
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Most fraternities also have assumed heraldic achievements. There are approximately 9 million student and alumni members of fraternities and sororities in North America, or about 3 percent of the total population. Roughly 750,000 of the current fraternity and sorority members are students who belong to an undergraduate chapter. A 2007 survey conducted by Princeton University showed that white and higher income students are much more likely than other students to be in fraternities and sororities.
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Senior surveys from the classes of 2009 and 2010 showed that 77 percent of sorority members and 73 percent of fraternity members were white. Ronald Reagan was initiated into Tau Kappa Epsilon at Eureka College while George H. Bush joined Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale University. Since 1900, 63-percent of members of the United States cabinet have been members of fraternities and sororities, and the current chief executive officers of five of the ten largest Fortune 500 companies are members of fraternities and sororities. Currently about 25-percent of members of the U. House of Representatives and 40-percent of members of the U. Senate are members of Greek-letter organizations.
Actress Sophia Bush was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Southern California and has since gone on to further her career in television and receive the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award. A newly initiated member of the Delta Upsilon chapter at Boise State University receives the fraternity’s badge. Greek-letter organizations than among non-members and students who are members of fraternities and sororities typically have higher-than-average grade point averages. One reason for this is many chapters require their members to maintain a certain academic standard. There is a high representation of former Greek life members among certain elites in the United States. 43 of the nation’s 50 largest corporation heads are Greek members along with 40 of the last 47 Supreme Court justices. Greek members “are more likely to be thriving in their well-being and engaged at work than college graduates who did not go Greek,” according to a study done by Gallup and Purdue University.
A 2014 Gallup survey of 30,000 university alumni found that persons who said they had been members of Greek-letter organizations while undergraduates reported having a greater sense of purpose, as well as better social and physical well-being, than those who had not. Greek letter organizations have often been characterized as elitist or exclusionary associations, organized for the benefit of a largely white, upper-class membership base. Members of fraternities and sororities disproportionately come from certain socio-economic demographics, which perpetuates an unhealthy divisiveness within the student body based on ethnicity and income and a perpetuation of patterns of exclusivity and privilege. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni questioned the existence of exclusive clubs on campuses that are meant to facilitate independence, writing: ” should be cultivating the kind of sensibility that makes you a better citizen of a diverse and distressingly fractious society. How is that served by retreating into an exclusionary clique of people just like you?
Some colleges and universities have banned Greek letter organizations on the grounds that they are, by their very nature and structure, elitist and exclusionary. Princeton has now had fraternities since the 1980s. Fraternity members are “much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than their non-Greek affiliated peers. One Harvard University study found that “4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.
Fraternities, and to a much lesser extent sororities, have been criticized for hazing sometimes committed by active undergraduate members against their chapter’s pledges. Hazing during the pledge period can sometimes culminate in an event commonly known as “Hell Week” in which a week-long series of physical and mental torments are inflicted on pledges. Supporters of fraternities note that hazing is almost universally prohibited by national fraternity organizations, and the occurrence of hazing in undergraduate fraternity chapters goes against official policy. Supporters of fraternities also note that hazing is not unique to Greek-letter organizations and is often reported in other student organizations, such as athletic teams. In 2007, an anti-hazing hotline was set up to report incidents of hazing on college campuses. Currently, 46 national fraternity and sorority organizations support the toll-free number, which generates automatic email messages regarding hazing and sends them to the national headquarters directly from the National Anti-Hazing Hotline.
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Critics of Greek-letter organizations assert that they create a culture of nepotism in later life, while supporters have applauded them for creating networking opportunities for members after graduation. Studies show that fraternity men are three times more likely to commit rape than other men on college campuses. Nicholas Syrett, a professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado, has been a vocal critic of the evolution of fraternities in the 20th century. Syrett has stated that “fraternal masculinity has, for at least 80 years, valorized athletics, alcohol abuse and sex with women. Hughey has linked racism in Greek life to persons experiencing microaggressions, fewer opportunities to use the networking system built into Greek life, and the use of harmful stereotypes. Alumni members of the Miami University chapter of Sigma Chi, plus an unidentified woman, pose for a photograph at a 1909 reunion.
Traditionally a legacy has a parent or sibling that is a member, but some organizations have expanded on their definition of a legacy’s relation to members. It is usually given to a pledge following a ceremony when they are first offered membership in the organization and can be worn until their initiation. This article appears to contain trivial, minor, or unrelated references to popular culture. For a more comprehensive list, see list of fictional fraternities and sororities.
The 1951 drama film Take Care of My Little Girl portrayed the first year of a popular freshman pledge to the fictitious Tri-U sorority, and her revelations about the sorority’s values. The 1988 film School Daze depicts fraternity and sorority life at a historically black college. The 1994 comedy movie PCU also portrays members of a student group at a fictitious college where fraternities have been prohibited. The 2001 comedy movie Legally Blonde and its 2007 musical adaption include the fictional sorority Delta Nu, of which the protagonist, Elle Woods, is president. The 2003 comedy movie Old School portrays a fictional fraternity created by aging men at their alma mater. The 2006 film Stomp the Yard depicts African American Greek life centered around the tradition of stepping, made popular by Black Greek Letter Organizations. The 2006 film Accepted includes a fictional fraternity, Beta Kappa Epsilon, which Sherman Schrader attempts to join because his father is a member.
The 2007 film American Pie Presents: Beta House where new college freshmen try to gain eligibility to the Beta House fraternity. The 2007 film Sydney White uses the sorority system and how it affects social dynamics to tell the classic fairy tale of Snow White in the modern day. The 2009 slasher film Sorority Row features the sorority ‘Theta Pi’ in which Audrina Patridge’s character was one of their members. The 2009 movie Sorority Wars revolves around sorority experience in college.
The 2010 television series Glory Daze depicts students of the fictional Hayes University who participate in the school’s Greek system. The 2010 film Brotherhood directed by Will Canon depicts hazing that gets out of hand. The main plot point of the 2013 movie Monsters University is a competition between fictitious fraternities and sororities to determine the best scarers. The 2014 film Neighbors pitches a fraternity house against a young family in a battle of hearts and minds. Its 2016 sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising saw the family go up against a newly formed sorority.
The 2015 Fox television series Scream Queens is centered on a series of murders involving the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority and the Dickie Dollar Scholars fraternity. Greek Letter Organizations: Communities of Learners? Chapter History Archived 2016-08-26 at the Wayback Machine. Gamma Chapter history, accessed 16 October 2015. Adelphean Society and the Philomathean Society. Why One School Decided To Make All Of Its Fraternities And Sororities Co-Ed”.
Fraternities Lobby Against Campus Rape Investigations”. GOVERNANCE OF UNDERGRADUATE SOCIAL FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES”. ERM, ORSA and Corporate Governance: The Small Company Challenges”. Fraternity Abolishes Pledging for New Members”.
This was, of course, all very collegiate for that long-ago time, and—with the exception of the “red-hot iron” and “boiling oil” references, if taken too literally—quite typical. Another Side of the Sixties: Festive Practices on College Campuses and the Making of a Conservative Youth Movement”. Here’s A List Of Every U. President Who Was In A Fraternity”. FratPAC Lobbies Congress For Tax Breaks, To Stop Anti-Hazing Law”. Sophia Bush x Joe Fresh Exclusively for HRC”. Fraternity and Sorority Membership Linked to Higher Well-Being for College Grads”.