What are fraternities and sororities?
Fraternities and sororities are values-based organizations. For hundreds of years, fraternities and sororities have brought college students together under a common purpose. In 1776, the first fraternity was founded, and many fraternal organizations for men were founded thereafter. As women were admitted into higher education, women created separate organizations to provide similar experiences. Black Greek Letter Organizations emerged in the early 1900s. In the decades that followed, organizations with a cultural or multicultural focus began to emerge.
What makes fraternities and sororities different from other student organizations?
There are many similarities between fraternities and sororities and student organizations, however, there are two aspects of the experiences in fraternities and sororities that distinguish them from other student organizations. First, fraternities and sororities are founded on a set of values, making them values-based organizations. The values of each organization provide a common experience for all members of the same organization. This means, students that join a chapter at UW-Madison will have instant connections with members of that organization, around the country and the globe. Additionally, these values guide their members as they navigate their lives. Secondly, membership in a fraternity or sorority is a lifetime commitment. Once initiated into an organization, students become members and are expected to maintain involvement for the rest of their lives – this can look different for different individuals ranging from paying dues, to serving as a chapter advisor, to continuing to support their philanthropic endeavor.
What are the benefits of joining a fraternity or sorority?
Students that join fraternities are afforded many benefits. Fraternities and sororities provide opportunities for leadership and personal development, academic support and recognition, close bonds with peers, a close-knit community on a large campus, and ways to give back to the campus and Madison community through service and philanthropic endeavors.
When exploring membership in a fraternity or sorority, it is important to explore a variety of things to ultimately find the right fit for you. Here are some examples of things to think about:
- Types of organizations (cultural, academic/professional, religious, etc.)
- National organization, mission, purpose, and values
- Expectations of members
- Chapter size
- Housing options
- Chapter recognition status
To learn about our organizations, we recommend seeking information around the following topics. You can do this by asking questions, exploring websites and social media, or attending interest meetings.
- How does the chapter support academic achievement?
- Are there academic requirements for membership?
- What resources are available to support academic success?
- What kinds of activities do you enjoy with your brothers/sisters/siblings?
- How often does the chapter host brotherhood/sisterhood/siblinghood events?
- What leadership opportunities exist within the chapter?
- What education and development programming does the chapter implement?
Service & Philanthropy
- How does the chapter engage with service and philanthropy?
- What organizations does the chapter support?
- What types of events does the chapter plan for fundraising and raising awareness?
Take time to learn about multiple organizations – don’t limit yourself before you’ve explored all of the options.
Ignore stereotypes and misconceptions.
Ask questions! This is the time to ensure all of your questions are answered before choosing an organization that best fits your needs.
Trust your gut – you will likely know which organization is the best fit for you.
Ask for help! Our staff and council leaders are here to support you as you navigate these processes, feel free to reach out with questions or to talk about your options.