Welcome to Greek Life at Vanderbilt!
Your son or daughter has embarked upon a great adventure by choosing to attend Vanderbilt University. Your student has many opportunities ahead of him or her while at VU. By joining a fraternity or sorority, he or she is joining hundreds of other new members in their search for a sense of community at the university. Students can feel overwhelmed once they are in a new environment. VU allows students to take the first semester of their freshman year to adjust to our campus life before making the decision to “Go Greek”.
For many parents, the Greek community conjures up images of Animal House. That’s simply not the reality! There are many myths about the Greek community, but the reality is that men and women in fraternities and sororities are committed to their academics, volunteer time in the community, develop and strengthen their leadership skills, and form a campus network with other Greeks.
Parents Often Ask. . .
How will my student benefit from joining a fraternity or sorority?
Sororities and fraternities have a history on campus dating back to the school’s founding. These organizations are rooted in founding principles that foster academic achievement, student involvement, community service, and life-long friendships. Greek organizations are groups of men and women who come together to form a personal network of individuals with similar ideas, interests, and a mutual pursuit of a well-rounded college education. Advantages include:
- A support group to help make the adjustment to college easier.
- Scholastic resources to help student achieve their academic goals.
- Leadership skills acquired through hands-on experience.
- Encouragement to get involved and maximize their potential on campus.
- Opportunities for active participation in community service projects.
How will joining a Greek organization affect my student’s academic pursuits?
Sororities and fraternities serve as a great resource for students academically, through study hours and tutoring programs. Most chapters require a high grade point average for initial membership into the organization. The minimum GPA required to participate in Greek recruitment is a 2.5 for IFC chapters, a 2.5 for Panhellenic chapters, and varies by organization for NPHC & IGC chapters. You can find specific information about the chapter’s academic performance here.
What are the social aspects of fraternity and sorority membership?
Because the Greek community at Vanderbilt contributes to the social activity on campus, it has taken great strides toward creating a responsible and safe environment for its members. All fraternities and sororities have strict policies regulating the consumption of alcohol for underage members and guests. Organizations work closely with the Greek Life staff to conduct safe social activities. All Greek organizations are held accountable to the Vanderbilt Alcohol Policy and Tennessee State Laws.
What is the financial obligation?
Like any opportunity for involvement in college, there is a financial commitment associated with a joining or sorority. The costs go toward the Inter/National fees, chapter operating expenses, and social functions. Financial obligations differ among individual chapters. New member can expect to pay higher dues their first semester than in subsequent ones.
Additional costs throughout the semester will go toward chapter meal plans, pictures, gifts, t-shirts, etc. There are payment plans available for students, as well as scholarships within the individual chapters. While your son or daughter is participating in the recruitment/intake process, make sure that he or she asks about the financial obligations of membership.
In the Guide to Greek Life, there is a specific section regarding the financial obligations of membership with a chart that includes dues estimates for each chapter. This information can be accessed here.
Is hazing a part of the Greek culture at Vanderbilt?
Vanderbilt University does not condone hazing behaviors and has an anti-hazing policy that is consistent with Tennessee state law. Hazing includes any activity that subjects members to harassment, ridicule, intimidation, physical exhaustion, abuse, or mental distress. Hazing is contrary to the purposes of the Greek community and the University. Hazing is not tolerated. If you sense your student may be participating in inappropriate activities as a result of membership in a fraternity or sorority, it is important that you talk to your student about your concerns. You can contact the Office of Greek Life to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have. You can also report any concerning behaviors via the online reporting system, available here.
Who is actually in charge of the fraternities and sororities?
Individual chapters elect officers to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by alumni who act as advisors. Each chapter is also responsible to their International organization, which offers support, advice, and direction through paid professional staff and regional volunteers. At VU, four Greek Advisors are on staff and serve as the primary contacts for the Greek community.
Vanderbilt is a deferred joining campus, which means that first year students cannot accept invitations for membership from Greek organizations until at least their second semester at VU. The process is different for each governing council. The Guide to Greek Life is the best place to learn specifics about he recruitment/intake process, our community and how to get involved. The Annual Report can provide basic information about each chapter, including membership statistics, GPAs, community service, awards and chapter judicial information from last year.
IFC Recruitment consists of an information fair, open houses, and informal gatherings like sporting events and cookouts throughout the fall semester, and concludes with a formal process in January. IFC chapters extend invitations for membership as part of the formal process. To be eligible to join, men must have a 2.5 GPA, 12 earned credit hours, participate in at least 5 hours of community service with fraternities prior to joining, and not be on disciplinary probation from the university.
NPHC and IGC Membership Intake occurs at various times throughout the academic year depending on the individual organization policies. The governing council sponsors events, Greek Mystique (NPHC) and Taste of IGC (IGC), each fall where students seeking membership are able to learn about the organizations. The individual organizations also hold interest meetings to further explain their heritage and commitments of joining. Attendance at these meetings is the best way to express your interest in joining. Informational flyers and notices for membership intake are posted at the Office of Greek Life and around campus.
Panhellenic Recruitment consists of interest meetings, registration, an informal round, and concludes with the formal process in January. To be eligible to join, women must have a 2.5 GPA, 12 earned credit hours, and not be on disciplinary probation from the university.
What is my role as a parent?
- Encourage your son or daughter to attend as many campus events as possible during the fall semester. Being involved is the best way to meet active Greek members and learn about their chapters. Involvement in other student organizations is looked favorably upon during the membership selection process.
- Students need support throughout the process of recruitment/intake and new member education. Be supportive and learn as much as you can about Greek life by asking questions of your student as he or she meets members in fraternities and sororities.
- Keep an open mind . . . Greek life is not for everyone. Just because you may have been a fraternity or sorority member doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for your son or daughter.
- Fraternities and sororities are different on every campus. Groups that may have been strong on the campus where you attended school may not have the same reputation at Vanderbilt. Let your son or daughter choose the group that he or she feels the most comfortable joining.
- Talk to your son or daughter beforehand about the financial obligation. Determine who will pay for what and where the limits are.
- Know that the system of fraternity/sorority recruitment at Vanderbilt is competitive. Not everyone who wants to be Greek will receive a bid.
- Do not become too involved in the sorority and fraternity recruitment/intake process . . . this is your son or daughter’s decision. There will be plenty of activities and events for you to attend or even help plan once your student joins one of our organizations!
- Too often, parents do not allow their students to “fight their own battles.” It helps the student mature and gain some assertiveness when allowed to call various offices if they have questions or concerns about their decision to go Greek.
- Keep the Office of Greek Life contact information on hand if you have any questions or concerns about Greek Life on Vanderbilt’s campus.
- The Vanderbilt Parent and Family Programs Office can be a great resources to all VU Parents: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/families/