Fraternity and Sorority Life Terminology

Active/Initiate/Member: Someone who has completed their associate/new member education or membership intake process and has been introduced to the ritual of the organization through initiation or other means.

Alumnus/Alumna: An initiated member who has graduated from college.

Associate/New Member: Someone participating in the new member education process who has received an invitation to join the organization but has not yet crossed or gone through initiation

Bid: A formal written invitation extended to a Potential New Member (PNM) to join the organization and participate in the educational process set by the either the national, international, or local governing body of the respective organization

“Big” Brother/Sister: An initiated member of the fraternity or sorority that serves as a mentor or guide for the member participating in the new member education process

Call: Audible sounds used by members of culturally-based fraternities/sororities to acknowledge or gain attention of other members – varies based on organization – not to be imitated by non-members. 

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.

Culturally based Greek Letter Organization (CBGLO): A fraternity or sorority that was founded (and one of its continued purposes) to support and uplift a group of people within a specific culture or cultural identity. Aspirants do not need to identify as a member of that culture to pursue membership but should understand and support the guiding principles of the organization. 

Emerging Chapter/Provisional Chapter: A new organization that is just starting on campus and has not yet received a full charter from their national organization.

Fraternity: A group of members who are unified by their shared values, a deep bond, and a dedication to a common purpose. Typically, fraternities have male membership; however, some early women’s organizations are referred to as “women’s fraternities.”

Hazing: Any activity that has the potential to harm a member physically, mentally or emotionally.

Induction/Initiation: The event or ceremony at the end of the new member education process where members become “actives.” 

Interest Group: A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a chapter of a Greek-letter organization. This group works with the fraternity/sorority advisor regularly and is recognized as part of the fraternity/sorority community.

Legacy: A student who is a daughter/son, sister/brother, or grandchild of a member of a Greek-letter organization.

Line: A new member class for culturally-based fraternities/sororities.

Line Brother/Sister: Individuals who are members of the same line/new member class in culturally-based fraternities or sororities.

“Little” Brother/Sister: Someone who is participating in the associate/new member education process who is the mentee of someone already initiated in the organization.

National Association for Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO)*: (Inter)nationally, NALFO is the umbrella council for 16 Latino Greek Letter Organizations (fraternities and sororities). Upstate does not yet have a NALFO council, but is home to one chartered NALFO-affiliated sorority.

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC)*: (Inter)nationally, NPC is the governing body for 26 women’s fraternities and sororities. USC Upstate is home to three NPC-affiliated organizations.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)*: (Inter)nationally, NPHC is a governing body for the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities. They are also known as the “Divine 9” or “D9.” USC Upstate is home to seven (four sororities and three fraternities) of the nine NPHC organizations. 

Neophyte/Neos: The most recently initiated members of an organization.

New/Associate Member: Someone who has been offered and accepted a bid (invitation to join), is fulfilling academic requirements within the organization, studies the organizations history and developing relationships with members of the organization.

New Member Class: A group of members who all received bids at the same time and are participating in the New Member Education program simultaneously.

North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC)*: (Inter)nationally, an association of 64 collegiate men’s fraternities that advocates for the continued existence of fraternal organizations. The NIC includes many (not all) culturally-based fraternities and non-culturally-based fraternities. USC Upstate is home to 1 non-culturally-based fraternity. 

Potential New Member (PNM): A student who is not a member of a fraternity or sorority and has expressed interest in learning more about them.

Primary Recruitment: A membership recruitment process that is organized by the the NPC-affiliated women's organizations in which Potential New Members (PNMs) have structured schedules and use a mutual selection process to determine which chapter they may join.

Prophyte: A CBGLO member who has experience at least one intake process as a member of an organization.

Membership Intake/Membership Recruitment: The process a potential new member goes through to meet multiple members of multiple organizations, learn the member requirements and about each chapter before moving forward towards a bid.

Sorority: A group of women who are unified by their shared values, a deep bond, and a dedication to a common purpose. Some organizations are sorority by definition but “women’s fraternities” by classification.

Step: A series of complex, synchronous, and precise rhythmic body movements performed to the tune of stomps, songs, or chants created by culturally-based organization members.

Stroll or Strolls: Strolls (or Strolling) has cultural significance to Culturally-Based Greek-Letter Organizations (CBGLOs). Strolling is an organized line movement performed around the floor at an event or it can be a cultural dance that is often performed in a circle or in unison to symbolize unity and strength.

It is very inappropriate to imitate any stroll performed by a member of another organization. Members see this mimicking as a form of disrespect to their organization. Sometimes members of CBGLOs will incorporate another organization’s (of the same national governing council) signature stroll movements into their own stroll or exhibition (ie. at a Yardshow). This is allowed due to the deep-seated bond that the organizations have, sometimes going all the way back to their founding.

When CBGLO members are performing their stroll, it is important to know that one should never “break the line.” Meaning one should not intervene into their stroll. Additionally, one should never join the stroll line unless they are a member of the organization.

While many attribute strolling to only NPHC organizations, it is also prevalent in other CBGLOs (including, but not limited to NALFO fraternities/sororities).

Return ArrowReturn to FSL Resources