Here are some terms that you will see a lot in fraternity and sorority life. Below the definitions is a table of Greek letters and their pronunciations.

Vocabulary Definitions

Active: A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity or sorority membership and is active at the collegiate level.

Alumni/Alumnae: Initiated fraternity or sorority members who have graduated from college.

Badge: The pin of an initiated member.

Bid: A formal invitation to join a particular fraternity.

Big Brother or Sister: An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a special friend to a new member, guiding them through their new member program and initiation.

Brother: A term used by fraternity members to refer to one another.

Chapter: A local group of a larger national organization, designated by a special Greek name.

Fraternity: The name that applies to all Greek letter organizations characterized by a ritual, pin, and strong ties to friendship and moral principles. Informally, most women’s fraternities are called sororities.

Greek: Any member of a Greek-letter social or community service organization (sorority or fraternity).

Initiation: The formal ceremony that marks the beginning of active membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements in order to be initiated.

Interfraternity Council (IFC): The governing body of fraternities at JCU. IFC operates under the affiliation requirements of the National Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

International/National Headquarters: The central organization of a particular fraternity or sorority.

Initiated Member: Any member who has completed the new member process, has gone through the initiation ceremony, and is currently enrolled in college.

Legacy: The brother or sister, son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter of a fraternity or sorority member. Each local chapter has its own policy regarding legacies. Being a legacy does not mean automatic membership into that chapter. Nonetheless, preferences are given to legacies.

Membership Selection: The individualized process in which organizations decide on preferred membership through a process designed by their national organization.

MRABA: Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement. This is the item that all women going through Formal Recruitment sign after preference rounds, indicating their top two choices of sororities to affiliate.

Mutual Selection: During sorority recruitment potential new members are matched with a sorority based on both the potential new member and sorority preference. Potential new members rank the sororities and the sororities select potential new members based on personal and individual criteria. A matching process considers both the potential new member and chapter wishes when matching bids.

NALFO (National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations): The national group of 24 Latino Greek letter organizations. The purpose of NALFO is to promote and foster positive interfraternal relations, communication, and development of all Latino fraternal organizations through mutual respect, leadership, honesty, professionalism, and education. Currently, JCU does not have any fraternity or sorority from NALFO on campus due to lack of interest. Any interested students should stop by the Office of Student Activities.

NIC (North American Interfraternity Conference): Governing body for 66 national member men’s fraternities and alumni associations. Representatives from each national fraternity get together to promote fraternities across the country.

NPC (National Panhellenic Conference): A national organization composed of 26 member sororities, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter society of women, undergraduates, and alumnae.

NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council): The national group of the nine historically African-American fraternities (five) and sororities (four) in North America, also known as the “Divine Nine.” Representatives from each national group get together to promote Black Greeks across the country. There is a national conference every other year that undergraduate students and graduate members attend to share ideas about Greek Life. Regional conferences are also held every other year on the even numbered years. Currently, JCU does not have any fraternity or sorority from NPHC on campus. However, there are city chapters that JCU students can become a member of. There are a few JCU community members who are current members of NPHC chapters and have brothers and sisters at other universities in Greater Cleveland. Any interested students should stop by the Office of Student Activities.

New Member (PNM): A member of a fraternity or sorority who has not been initiated.

New Member Program: New members learn the history, ideals, and values of Fraternity and Sorority Life. The time frame of the new member program varies for each chapter.

Panhellenic: Means “All Greek.” It is an association for all Greek affiliated women. The Panhellenic Council operates under the direction of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).

Recruitment Counselor (Pi Chi): A sorority member who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter during Formal Recruitment. She is specially trained to help potential new members and answer any questions they may have about sorority membership.

Philanthropy: A charitable fundraiser or service project sponsored by a fraternity or sorority.

Potential New Member (PNM): A college student who is participating in recruitment.

Preferencing: During the last part of recruitment, a potential new member determines which sorority she would like to join. For sorority recruitment, the potential new member can list two sororities in order of preference.

Recommendation/Sponsor Form: A personal letter of reference provided by an alumna of a national sorority to the local chapter of her sorority. Letters of recommendation do not guarantee a bid from any sorority.

Recruitment: The process of mutual selection between a prospective member and active chapter.

Sister: A term used by sorority members to refer to one another.

Social: A get-together with another group for a party or other fun occasion.

UIFI (Undergraduate Inter-Fraternity Institute): A four-day leadership conference held each summer (sessions run throughout the summer for students’ convenience) that brings together 80 Greek students from across the country. Students stay in Greek housing on a campus selected to host the leadership conference. This is one of the best leadership conferences in the country and is tailored exclusively for Greek leaders.