For many parents and family members, fraternity and sorority life can be a bit of a mystery. New experiences can be overwhelming at first. Here are some of the most common questions we receive from family members.
When can my student join a fraternity or sorority?
First year students must wait until their second semester to join. Transfer students may join during their first semester at Rutgers. Recruitment (also referred to as "rush week" or "intake") takes place within the first two weeks of each semester. Regardless of the time at which a student wishes to join, the student must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be enrolled as a full time, undergraduate student (12 credit hours) at the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus
- Successful completion of at least 12 credit hours at Rutgers or another college/university
- A 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA
Remember, these requirements are minimum standards, so interested students should ask each organization about their specific requirements.
What do fraternities and sororities do? What are the benefits of joining?
Fraternities and sororities were first founded in the late 1700s as opportunities for students to gather outside of the classroom to debate and discuss their coursework free from professors and other administrators. As these literary societies evolved over time, friendship, campus leadership and service to others also became part of their organizational mission.
These concepts of leadership, scholarship, service and friendship for life still exist in today's fraternities and sororities. No matter what fraternity or sorority a student may join, members participate in programs that encourage academic success, offer opportunities to serve the community, lead their peers and develop deep friendships. Membership in a fraternity or sorority lasts a lifetime. While other student organizations have a membership expiration date, fraternity/sorority membership goes with students as they graduate and begin their life's work.
How will my son or daughter find the organization best suited for them?
Research before, and active participation during the recruitment period are the best strategies for finding a fraternity or sorority. Most students who join a fraternity or sorority do so in the second semester of their first year. During the first semester, students are encouraged to attend recruitment events and meet the members. During this time, it is important for your student to ask questions so they can begin to differentiate one chapter from another.
Important questions may include:
- What type of member is the chapter looking for?
- What values does this chapter promote?
- Is the chapter officially recognized by the university? If not, why not?
- How much are dues and fees?
- What exactly happens during the New Member process?
- What is expected of chapter members?
- What kind of scholarship program does the chapter offer?
- What activities is the chapter involved with on campus?
- What is the time commitment?
- What are the service projects this chapters conducts?
- Does the chapter required members to live in the official chapter house? If so, for how long?
- How does your chapter support Dance Marathon?
- How will membership in this specific fraternity/sorority benefit me?
- What is the chapter’s policy on hazing?
It is important to know a great deal about the chapter before deciding to join. Recruitment events provide a time for mutual learning, a time when chapters learn about the new students and the new students learn about the chapters. All chapters are different and by asking questions and noting the differences, your student will narrow their selection to the most appropriate chapter.
What is the difference between a recognized and unrecognized fraternity/sorority?
University recognized fraternities/sororities work closely with the Fraternity & Sorority Affairs office. They are held accountable to university policies and are able to participate in Greek Life and university sponsored programs.
Unrecognized fraternities/sororities are not subject to university policy nor are they monitored by the university. Groups that appear on the Unregistered list do not meet the university’s standards for recognition and/or have lost recognition for failure to adhere to university policies. We strongly discourage students from joining these organizations. Visit our “Chapters” page for a full list of recognized and unrecognized fraternities and sororities.
My student has been asked to join a fraternity/sorority. Now what happens?
The new member period is a time of learning – learning about how the organization is run, learning about the history of the organization, learning how to work within the larger membership, learning about yourself.
The new member program is designed by the national fraternity/sorority and typically new members learn this information at a weekly meeting. Additional activities may include retreats, hands-on service activities, philanthropy fundraisers, educational seminars and social events.
What types of information should I have access to about this new organization my student has joined?
Typically at the first new member meeting of the semester the organization will supply your student with all of the information they need to know - a calendar of events, contact information for the student officers and alumni/ae advisors, a financial contract to sign and a list of expectations for the new member (typically this outlines the requirements that must meet before becoming a fully initiated member of the organization.)
All of this information can (and should) be shared with parents. In addition, your student should be able to direct you to the national and local websites so you can begin to learn more about the organization they are joining.
What is the cost associated with joining a fraternity/sorority
Fraternities/sororities are NOT funded by the university. Each chapter is self-supported through dues charged to all members. In the first semester of membership, new members are assessed a number of one-time fees (pledge fee, initiation fee, badge fee, insurance). After the initial fees are paid, your student's only required expenses will be their regular chapter dues.
What is my role as a parent?
Take the time to find out more about the Greek community at Rutgers. Ask questions about what the organizations will offer your student and allow them to make the best decision for themselves.
Once your student joins, continue to be observant and ask questions. Here are a few suggestions to help ease your student's transition to both the university and their new fraternity or sorority.
- Be happy and supportive of your student's choice of fraternity/sorority.
- Encourage them to attend programs sponsored by their new chapter and the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs.
- Know the name and contact information for the chapter president, new member educator and chapter advisor.
- Ask for details about the financial aspect of membership. If you are providing financial assistance, you have the right to know. Many one-time fees are paid during the first semester of membership, so expect the first few months to be the most expensive.
- Stay in touch with phone calls, emails & text messages.
- Attend Parent/Family weekend activities as well as other special events sponsored by the chapter.
- Expect to see numerous new t-shirts, photos and Greek paraphernalia.
- Initiation is a big day. Congratulate your student and acknowledge this important milestone in their fraternity/sorority membership journey.
- Encourage your student to be a part of the university community and to take advantage of its many resources.
Who is actually in charge of the fraternities and sororities?
Individual chapters elect student officers to manage the day to day operations of the chapter. These officers are assisted by alumni who act as advisors. Each chapter is also responsible to report to their inter/national organization, which offers support, advice and direction through paid professional staff and regional volunteers.
Rutgers University operates the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and employs four professional staff members to advise and support the recognized fraternities/sororities. You can contact OFSA at 848-932-7692.
My student participated in recruitment but wasn't asked to join. Why? Now what?
Our fraternities and sororities are private membership organizations and are under no obligation to explain why a student wasn't offered an invitation to membership, so our office staff will not know the reason why a student wasn't asked to join.
In some cases the reason is clear -i.e. the student didn't meet the academic requirement or student had not met enough of the members yet. We suggest that parents and students consider this to be similar to what happens in a job interview. An applicant might have a great resume, but the interview might not go well. Or, the candidate could be a great interview but not have the right credentials. If your student wishes to keep looking for a fraternity/sorority experience he or she can participate in recruitment during the next semester. If not, but they'd still like to be involved in campus in some way, you might want to encourage them to think about any of the other 700+ student organizations and clubs on campus.
What sort of things might my student experience as a new member?
The new member process can take no longer then eight weeks as per Rutgers University policy (most new member programs are typically 6 weeks long). Your student should receive a calendar of events from the New Member Educator (the student charged with the responsibility of administering the new member program) at their first meeting.
Typically you can expect your student to have one or two weekly meetings with the rest of the students who are joining and the New Member Educator. At these meetings students usually participate in teambuilders, learn fraternity/sorority history, organizational structure, talk about the requirements they must meet in order to become an initiated member, etc. OFSA policy limits the time spent in the new member program to no more than ten (10) hours per week. Nothing in these meetings is secret.
Most new members participate in an academic program through the organization (tutoring with an older member, attending study hours at the library, submitting copies of their grades throughout the semester). They are also doing community service, attending some sort of leadership programming (a retreat, workshops, educational speakers) and are likely attending social events.
Again, none of these things are secret, no meetings or events should run past midnight or be held before 7am and all events should be talked about well in advance with the students so that they can adjust their schedule accordingly.
What about hazing?
Hazing is against the law in New Jersey. It is a violation of the Rutgers University Student Code of Conduct. It is a policy violation for every recognized fraternity and sorority on our campus. Any chapter who violates this policy will be given due process and if found responsible may be subjected to organizational and/or individual sanctions and discipline.
If you believe your student is the victim of hazing, we urge you to report your concerns immediately to the Office of Student Conduct at 848-932-9414 or click here to report.
Who can my student talk to if they have a problem while they are a new member?
There are several people your student can speak with if they have problems or questions:
- Chapter Advisor (an adult advisor to the organization who is a member of the fraternity/sorority)
- Chapter President (the student elected by the organization for the semester/year to lead the membership)
- New Member Educator (the student elected to administer the new member program)
- Office of Fraternity/Sorority Affairs
- Contact info (phone and email) for the Advisor, President and New Member Educator should be given to the new members at the first meeting of the new member program. This info can also be obtained by contacting the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at 848-932-7692.
Is there anything my student cannot tell me about the fraternity or sorority?
No. The only secret information is that which is learned at the official initiation ceremony held at the end of the new member education period. All other information should be easily obtainable by your student and shared with you. In addition, most national fraternities/sororities include information for Parents/Families on their websites. When in doubt, check with the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
What if my student wants to quit the sorority or fraternity?
On occasion, students feel it necessary to quit their new fraternity or sorority. It may be that the time commitment proves to be challenging, the financial obligation is too expensive or the student believes they made the wrong choice in organizations. If the student has made a choice to quit, they can do so by submitting a written resignation and speaking with the Chapter Advisor, Chapter President or New Member Educator.
Some organizations hold an "exit interview" to find out why the student is leaving, others may have paperwork for the organization that the departing new member must complete. Either way, the student can leave the organization, but should understand that in most cases any money that has been paid to the group cannot be refunded and that the organization will likely ask for certain items to be returned, like a new member manual or the new member pin.
When is my student finished with the new member program? What happens when the program is completed?
The maximum time for an organization to administer a new member program is 8 weeks. At the end of the program the new members must be initiated, which means that they must participate in the formal ceremony that confers full membership on him/her. The date of the initiation ceremony is not to be a secret from the new members or their families.
My student wants to move into the fraternity/sorority house. What should I expect?
Fraternity/sorority housing is privately run. The properties are owned and run by a house corporation OR leased and run by a house corporation. NONE of the fraternity/sorority houses are owned or operated by the university.
A House Association or House Corporation (an arm of the organization) is responsible for the execution of leases, the collection of rent and/or the administration of any policies regarding the need for members to live in the chapter's facility. You should expect to obtain a copy of the lease before your son/daughter signs it, you should expect to be able to have questions answered by the House Corporation President (an adult advisor in charge of the property) and you should understand the conduct or situations that might give the organization cause to break that lease with your student. The lease your son/daughter signs is a legal document and they will be expected to honor all provisions outlined in the lease, including the payment of rent in a timely manner.
My student has a University Hold and can't register for classes. How can we fix this?
Chapters will place a "hold" on a student's records when they fail to meet their financial obligations. A hold will prevent a student from scheduling classes, from obtaining an official transcript and may even result in the cancellation of an upcoming class schedule.
To remove the hold, the student must make the payment directly to the fraternity/sorority (NOT the university). Once the bill is paid in full, the organization's Chapter Advisor will notify Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and we will submit a request to release the hold.
In these situations all questions about payment must be directed to the organization's Chapter Advisor.
If you still have questions about fraternity/sorority life, please feel free to contact our office at 848-932-7692 or email us at email@example.com.