Sororities are groups of college women interested in service, sisterhood and lifelong friendship. Sorority chapter names consist of Greek letters, which is why members are called Greeks. To promote shared values and protect the chapter’s reputation, sorority members follow rules of the chapter, the national organization and the university. Rule violations can result in individual and group penalties. Depending on the severity of rule infractions, sanctions can range from mandatory education to dismissal from school.
Women pursuing sorority membership must be full-time students in good academic standing and follow recruiting rules of the Greek organization. Sororities strictly regulate recruiting practices to ensure fairness and transparency when chapters annually bid for prospective members. Typically, recruits must accept all invitations to social events during recruitment week. Generally, a sorority member cannot offer gifts or transportation to an individual recruit in an attempt to influence her decision about which chapter to join. Recruits cannot verbally promise to join a chapter before receiving a formal invitation.
The National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) defines hazing as any organized activity that inflicts harm, abuse or harassment on sorority members. NPHC bans hazing in the interest of safety and human dignity. Consistent with university policy and state law, sororities are advised to educate members on the type of behavior that constitutes hazing. For example, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at Rutgers University forbids coerced physical exercise, physical or verbal abuse, public stunts, forced silence, isolation, vandalism, unauthorized scavenger hunts, servitude, interference with sleeping or studying, nudity, and pranks.
In response to tragic alcohol-related incidents on college campuses, NPHC has taken a strong stance against the illegal and excessive use of alcohol and drugs. NPHC stipulates that chapter houses and initiation rituals must be alcohol and drug-free. Specific chapter rules about alcohol use vary, but risky behavior is not condoned even if sorority members are legally old enough to drink. For example, sorority members at Oklahoma State University cannot organize drinking games, purchase kegs, drive drunk or buy alcohol for minors. Many sororities offer harm-reduction workshops to familiarize members with the adverse effects of alcohol and drugs.
Risk Management Regulations
Sorority members follow safety rules to reduce high-risk behavior and organizational liability. Many sororities belong to the Fraternal Information and Programming Group (FIPG), an organization that provides protocols for preventing accidents and injury when hosting social gatherings. FIPG advises chapters to immediately inform their national organization of rule violations or serious incidents such as a sexual assault. FIPG also stresses adherence to fire and health codes in chapter houses. Schools such as the University of North Carolina require sorority members to know and follow FIPG policies.
- Angelo State University: Greek Life: Sorority Recruitment Rules
- University of Michigan: Recruitment Regulations of the Panhellenic Association
- National Panhellenic Council: Joint Statement Against Hazing
- Rutgers University: Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs: Hazing Policy
- Oklahoma State University: Interfraternity/Panhellenic Council: Alcohol/Substance Abuse Policy
- Fraternal Information and Programming Group: Risk Management Policy
- North Carolina State University: Greek Life: Rules & Policies
- Northwestern University: Fraternity and Sorority Life
- Ball State University: Greek Life: What is a Fraternity or a Sorority
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