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Fraternity & Sorority Terms

Fraternities and sororities often times use Greek-letters for their names. This stems back from the studies of the classics in the late 1700s and the introduction of fraternities and sororities to college campuses.


Active: an initiated man or woman who is a current student.

Alumna/Alumnae: an initiated member of a women's fraternity or sorority who has received her undergraduate degree.

Alumnus/Alumni: an initiated member of a fraternity who has received his undergraduate degree.

Balloting: a informal ceremony where fraternity potential new members select the organization they wish join.

Bid: a formal invitation given by an organization asking a prospective member to join their organization.

Big Brother/Big Sister: an older member assigned to assist a new member in his/her college transition.

Brother: term used by fraternities for its members when referring to members.

Call: audible sounds used by members of culturally based organizations to acknowledge or gain the attention of the other members.

Chapter: the local group of collegiate members of an inter/national Greek Letter organization.

Chapter Total: the maximum number of members to which a PHC sorority chapter can recruit.

Colony: a fraternal membership which is in a trial period with their inter/national organization and the University before becoming a fully recognized chapter.

Formal Recruitment: a designated membership recruitment period during which IFC and PHA hold a series of organized events. It is a mutual selection process.

Fraternity: a Greek-letter sisterhood or brotherhood.

Hand Sign: symbol or gesture made with the hand(s) that signify membership in a particular organization.Hand signs should not be replicated by non-members.

Hazing: any activity which causes undue stress placed on any member that can be emotional, mental or physical.

Informal/Open Recruitment: the unstructured recruitment process by which IFC and PHA take members.

Informational: a forum for individuals interested in seeking more information about a particular NPHC fraternity or sorority.

Initiation: the formal ritual ceremony that brings new members into full membership of the sorority or fraternity.

Interfraternity Council (IFC): the governing body for 15 of Appalachian State University fraternities in the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

Legacy: a potential new member whose grandparent, parent or sister/brother is a member of a particular fraternity/sorority organization.Legacy stipulations vary by chapter/organization.

Mixer: Sorority and fraternity members meeting together socially to get acquainted.

Membership Intake: the process by which interested persons become members of NPHC or MGC organizations. Generally characterized by an informational meeting, an application process, an interview or series of interviews and an educational process.

Multicultural Greek Council (MGC): the governing body for (currently) two historically-Latinx organizations at Appalachian State University.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): the governing body for all Appalachian State University sororities and fraternities in the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

New Member: a woman or man who has accepted a fraternity sorority bid (invitation), but has not been initiated.

New Member Pin: a distinctive insignia worn on the chest designating a new member of a particular fraternity or sorority for the period of time between bid acceptance and initiation.

New Member Presentation: Formerly known as probates. This is each of NPHC & MGC's organizations way of introducing their new members to campus. Usually consists of songs, skits, recitation of history along with stepping.

New Member Program: a period of educational programming during which new members learn the history and values about the fraternity/sorority, its members and activities.

Panhellenic Council (PHC): the governing body for all Appalachian State University sororities in the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).

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

Pin (also badge): a distinctive insignia worn on the chest designating a member of a particular fraternity or sorority.

Potential New Member: a person participating in recruitment/intake.

Rho Gamma (Recruitment Guide): a PHC or IFC member who has disaffiliated with their organization during recruitment to assist in the recruitment process.

Sister or Soror: a term used by members of women's fraternities or sororities when referring to one another.

Sorority: a Greek-letter sisterhood.