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Fraternity/Sorority Terminology

Fraternity/Sorority Terminology

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 or sorority.

Big Brother or Sister: An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a sponsor, advisor and special friend to a new member, guiding him/her through the new member program and initiation.

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

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

Depledge: To terminate one's fraternity or sorority membership before initiation; those who depledge a sorority may not pledge another sorority until the next formal recruitment period.

Fraternity: The name that applies to all Greek letter organizations characterized by a ritual, pin, and strong ties to friendship and moral principles. Informally, 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 the the College of Charleston. The IFC operates under the affiliation requirements of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

Initiated Member: Any member who has completed the new member process and has gone through the initiation ceremony.

Intake: The process National Pan-Hellenic Council chapters perform to recruit, interview, choose and educate new members.

Lavaliere: A pendant with a fraternity or sorority's Greek letters on it. Sorority members usually receive their chapter's lavaliere at the time of initiation.

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, preference is given to legacies.

Membership Recruitment/Rush: The process of mutual selection between a prospective member and an active chapter.

Mixer: A social activity with another Greek organization.

NIC (North American Interfraternity Conference): Governing body for 66 national member men's fraternities and alumni associations.

NPC (National Panhellenic Conference): A national organization consisting 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): A national organization comprised of four sororities and five fraternities whose membership is historically African-American, and locally the governing council for seven of these groups.

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

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

New Member Program: A period of learning about fraternity and sorority life prior to initiation. This period varies for all groups.

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).

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

Pledge: See New Member.

Pledgeship: See New Member Program.

Potential New Member: A college woman who is participating in Formal Membership Recruitment.

Preferencing: During the last part of Formal Recruitment, a Potential New Member determines which particular sorority she is willing to join. For sorority membership recruitment, the Potential New Member lists two sororities in her order of preference.

Quota: The specified number of Potential New Members to which each sorority may extend a bid. Quota is determined by Panhellenic and is based upon the number of potential members still engaged in formal recruitment.

Recommendation (Rec): A personal letter of reference provided by an alumna of a sorority to the chapter of her sorority on campus. Letter of recommendation do not guarantee a bid from any sorority. Letters of recommendation are strongly encouraged but not required at the College of Charleston.

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

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

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

NPHC Terminology

AKA: A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Alpha: A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Call: A sound made to identify a particular organization.

Delta: A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Handsign: A gesture made with the hands to identify a particular organization.

Iota: A member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

Kappa or Nupe: A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Line or Ship: Individuals going through the membership intake process.

Line Sister/Line Brother: Someone who went through the membership intake process with you.

Membership Intake: The term NPHC groups use when they bring new members into their organizations. Each NPHC group determines when they will conduct intake, and thus no two NPHC groups will conduct intake together.

Neophyte (Neo): An abbreviated term for the Greek work "neophyte".  A neophyte is a new member.

Omega or Que: A member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Prophyte: A prophyte is someone who has been a member of the organization for a year or more, or someone who has initiated members.

Sigma: A member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

SGRho: A member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Soror: Term used by NPHC sororities meaning "sister."

Zeta: A member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.