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Glossary of Greek terminology
Active: A fully initiated member of a fraternity/sorority.
Alumna: A member of a women’s fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumnae.
Alumnus: A member of a men’s fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumni.
Associate Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated into a sorority or fraternity. See also “New Member”
Badge: A “pin” worn by fully-initiated members of each fraternity or sorority that carries its official insignia.
Bid: An invitation to join a sorority or fraternity.
Big: Nickname for big sister or brother, a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.
Brother: An active or alumni member of a fraternity.
Brotherhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same fraternity.
Call: A yell used mostly by historically black National Pan-Hellenic organizations (although some National Inter-fraternity Council, National Panhellenic Council, and local organizations have calls as well). Used to promote pride in their organization and identify and greet brothers and sisters. These are to be used only by members of the organization.
Chapter: An established membership unit of a national or international sorority or fraternity.
Chapter House: A physical structure where members live. Chapter houses are typically owned and operated by private corporations or organizations.
Charter: The official document drafted by an Inter/National fraternity or sorority that allows for the creation of a local chapter that is affiliated with a college or university campus.
Class or “New Member Class”: A term used to name new members of a Panhellenic Council or Interfraternity Council organization who all joined during the same semester.
Colony: Known as a “trial period” for a new organization that is awaiting official Chapter Status recognition from their national to establish a letter chapter on their campus.
Crest: Insignia used by sorority and fraternity members. Most Greek organizations reserve the crest for initiated members only. Each crest has hidden, secret meanings behind it. Also known as a coat or arms, shield or armorial bearings.
Crossing: Ceremony during which new members of culturally-based and historically black Greek-letter organizations become active, life-long members of their organization.
D.A. or Deactivate: A student who for some reason removes himself or herself from association with the fraternity and drops membership completely.
Depledge: A student who withdraws from an organization after accepting a bid, but before the student is initiated by a chapter.
Dry: A fraternity which does not permit alcohol on the premises and in very rare cases, does not allow the organization to host a party involving alcohol. Some fraternities are going dry at the national level, and all sororities have different levels of "dry". For example, one may allow the sorority to attend a function hosted by a non-dry fraternity, while another sorority may not.
Dues: The monetary costs of membership in a fraternity or sorority. These fees are used to cover the costs of operation, formal events, social activities, and other events, depending on the organization.
Expansion: When an organization is looking to expand and open a new establishment of a Greek-letter organization at a college or university.
Founder’s Day: An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history. It's not necessarily held on the day the organization was founded.
Fraternity: The name applied to Greek organizations including both men’s and women’s organizations. There are several types of fraternities at OSU, including social fraternities, service fraternities, professional fraternities, and honorary fraternities. The Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life workswith governing bodies directly; Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), National Panhellenic Council (NPC), Unified Greek Council (UGC.)
Formal Recruitment: A designated recruitment period during which a series of organized events are held by each NPC sorority or IFC fraternity. At OSU, this is organized and implemented by the Panhellenic Council or Interfraternity Council.
Founders: The founding members of a Greek Letter organization.
Governing Council: Also known as an umbrella council, generally supports and acts as a voice for organizations within it, including being the official sponsored student organization as liaison between the university and the members of the member organizations.\
Greeks: Members of a fraternity or sorority. The term "Greek" is used because a majority of fraternities and sororities use Greek letters to distinguish themselves.
Hazing: Any willful act or practice by a member, directed against a member or new member, which, with or without intent, is likely to: cause bodily harm or danger, offensive punishment, or disturbing pain, compromise the person's dignity; cause embarrassment or shame in public; cause the person to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain; and impair academic efforts. In addition, hazing is any requirement by a member which compels a member or new member to participate in any activity which is illegal, is contrary to moral or religious beliefs, or is contrary to the rules and regulations of the sorority/fraternity, institution of learning, and civil authorities.
IFC: The abbreviation for the Interfraternity council, which is the governing body of the fraternities who belong nationally to the North American InterfraternityConference (NIC).
Informal Recruitment: A period of time after formal recruitment where Greek organizations who are not at quota can hold events to recruit new members. It is called informal because potential members need not follow a designated schedule.
Initiation: A ceremony during which new members receive lifelong membership privileges into the organization they have chosen to be a part of.
Intake: Term for the process by which Independent Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council members are selected to become new members of an organization. This is generally much more secretive than recruitment or rush for Panhellenic Council of Interfraternity Council members, but generally includes an application and an interview process, followed by an educational program done at the regional level conducted by alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”).
Interest Group: A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a Greek-letter organization.
Interfraternity Council (IFC): The OSU-based “chapter” of the North-American Interfraternity Conference. A student-led governing body that supports 18 of the men’s fraternities who are part of the NIC. IFC strives to provide communication between the fraternal organizations and connects organizations to the local Corvallis and OSU community.
Legacy: Each organization has its own definition of a "legacy." It is generally defined as an immediate family member of an initiated member, such as a sister/brother or daughter/son. Some sororities also recognize extended family members as legacies as well.
Letters: The first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the motto of a particular fraternity or sorority; these are generally displayed on clothing and other Greek paraphernalia.
Line: A term used by culturally-based and historically black organizations to name a group of new members who all joined during the same term, semester, or pledge class (similar to the term to “class” which is often used by Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council organizations). They are the potential new members of the organization. Lines are often given names.
National Order of Omega: This is a National Honor Society for Fraternity or Sorority members who maintain a grade point average above the All-Greek average, have distinguished themselves as leaders in the OSU Greek community, have exemplary character, and are either juniors or seniors.
National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): The governing body of the nine traditionally African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the "Divine Nine."
National Panhellenic Council (NPC): A national organization comprised of 26 women’s fraternities and sororities, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek- letter-society of college women.
Nationals: Fraternity and Sorority members often refer to their national/international headquarters or offices as "Nationals". These offices are responsible for making policies for the individual organizations at all of colleges and universities where their organization recruits members.
Neo or Neophyte: A new member of a culturally-based or historically black organization which usually defines that stage between the completion of new member/pledge requirements and being initiated
North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): A national organization comprised of 69 fraternal organizations (mostly for men), each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter-society of college men.
New Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity.
New Member Educator: The liaison between the new members and the chapter, they are responsible for implementing and monitoring the new member program and preparing the new members for initiation.
New Member Program: The time period where the new member learns about their new sorority and fraternity before initiation. This time frame lasts from Bid day until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period (and still called this in some fraternities).
Officers: Initiated members who currently hold positions within their Greek organization or governing body.
“On the Yard”: A phrase used by culturally-based and historically black organizations meaning that a fraternity or sorority is currently chartered and able to recruit new members on campus.
Open Recruitment: A designated recruitment period during which each of the men’s fraternal organizations in the IFC host recruitment events at their own houses. This type of recruitment is considered “informal” because potential members need not follow a designated schedule.
Panhellenic Council: An umbrella council comprised of the NPC women’s housed sororities. A student governed council at Oregon State University which strives to provide communication between the organizations and connects organizations to the local Corvallis and OSU community through academic, social, and service events.
Philanthropy: This is a community service project/s held by a fraternity, sorority, or both. OSU Greek students perform a number of these projects each year, and most Inter/National Fraternities and Sororities require their organizations to do one large project per year. Our chapters are extremely involved in university and community service participating in such events as Relay for Life, canned food drives, clothing drives, and many more.
Pin: (2 types) the active pin or badge, a distinctive insignia worn on the chest designating an active member of a particular fraternity. The pledge pin, an insignia used to designate a pledge of a particular fraternity.
Pledge: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity. This term is believed to be outdated by some and can be offensive. See also “New Member”
Potential New Member: A person who is interested in joining a Greek-letter organization, and will participate in rush, intake, or recruitment; often abbreviated to PNM.
Preference: The final parties held by Panhellenic Council organizations during Recruitment. These events are more formal than the previous parties and usually include a ritual that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref, or Final Dinners
Preference Cards: Potential New Members sign this after preference, indicating in order, which sororities of the ones whose parties they attended they liked the most. These cards, along with the organizations’ lists of members they would like, are used to match the PNMs and sororities with one another in a mutually selective process.
Probate: An official public presentation of initiation used by culturally-based and historically black organizations. The presentation may consist of knowledge learned, skills gained, and values understood. This is a proud moment of historical significance for new members of these organizations. In most cases, this is the first time when newly initiated members of each fraternity/sorority are revealed to the rest of campus.
Quota: A specific number of women to which each Panhellenic Council sorority may extend membership during a formal (fall) recruitment period. This number is determined by the Panhellenic Council each year in conjunction with the National Panhellenic Conference.
Recolonize: A process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus receives another charter to recruit members on the same campus. Recolonization can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers, or had their charter revoked.
Recruitment: The process through which sororities and fraternities get new members. Potential New Members tour each house, are invited to different events and choose the new members for their organization (students seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority “rush,” while the Greek organizations “recruit” new members).
Rho Gamma: A Panhellenic representative who has no contact with her own chapter during formal membership recruitment and is available to guide women through the recruitment process and answer questions.
Ritual: The traditional rites and ceremonies of a fraternity or sorority; these are almost always private and known only to initiated members of a fraternal organization.
Rush: The process of attending recruitment events held by houses with the intent of meeting people and participating in a particular fraternity or sorority (students seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority “rush,” while the Greek organizations “recruit” new members).
Sister: An active member of a sorority.
Sisterhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same sorority.
Step Show: A show often performed by National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Also called stepping.
Stroll: A dance, normally done in a line of active members that displays pride and knowledge of their organization and its values. Organizations usually have national strolls and local strolls that incorporate a variety of different moves and hand signs that are unique that organization.
Total: The maximum number of members a Panhellenic Council sorority can have on a given campus. Groups can only exceed total during formal recruitment if in the process of extending bids to quota, the chapter size grows beyond this number. Conversely, if a sorority has obtained quota during recruitment and is still below total, that sorority may continue to ask new members to join, but only up to total.
Unified Greek Council: An umbrella council which is a fusion of culturally rich and distinct Greek Letter Organizations at OSU, including but not limited to those focused on the celebration of race, ethnicity, nationality, career and professional advancement and sexual orientation. It is a student governed council at Oregon State University. UGC strives to connect our organizations and the local Corvallis and OSU community through academic, social, and service events.