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Greek Terminology

Active: A student who is a fully initiated member of a fraternity or a sorority.

Associate or Pledge or New Member: A student who has not been initiated and who may be serving as a “pledge” or “associate member” of a fraternity or sorority during the new member education process. This term is also used to refer to a new member of a fraternity or a sorority. After the recruitment period, new members learn the history of their national and local chapters, learn the values and principles of the group, and get to know their fellow new members and the initiated members.

Alumni/ae: Members of a fraternity or sorority who have graduated.

Bid DayBid: An invitation to join a fraternity or a sorority. 

Chapter: A term used to refer to undergraduate fraternity or sorority students in a particular fraternity or sorority. This term is also used nationally to distinguish one group of students on a particular campus from those on another campus. Many national groups give their chapters names, such as a Greek-letter, or a combination of letters, or a Greek-letter and a state. Examples are the West Virginia Alpha Chapter which is the designation for the Pi Beta Phi Sorority Chapter at WVU or the West Virginia Gamma Chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity at WVU.

Crossing Over: Becoming an initiated member of a National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. organization.

Deferred Membership: West Virginia University has adopted a deferred recruitment whereby all students at the University will not be eligible for membership in a social fraternity or sorority unless the student has (1) earned a minimum of twelve (12) credits as a full-time student at the University in Morgantown, and (2) holds a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75.  

FraternityFraternity: A group of men or women bonded together by their ritual that contains the founding principles, ideals and aspirations of the group. Some national women’s groups normally called a “sorority” actually refer to themselves as “women’s fraternities.”

Initiation: A traditional ritual signifying full membership in a fraternity or sorority. This ceremony is normally very serious and has been passed down by the original founders of the organization. The official secrets of the organization are shared during the formal ritual of initiation.

Intake: The term NPHC groups (historically African-American) and other culturally-based organizations use when they bring new members into their organization. Each NPHC group (there are four of them at West Virginia University) determines when they will conduct intake, and thus no two NPHC groups will conduct intake together or at the same time. In general, NPHC groups require at least sophomore status and a 2.75 cumulative GPA for someone to participate in intake.

Legacy: Someone whose mother, father, sister or brother, are members of a particular group. Some may consider an aunt or an uncle a legacy also.

National: The national or international governing organization of a fraternity or sorority.

National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. (NPHC): also known as the Divine Nine, is comprised of the nine historically African American sororities and fraternities. This term is used to describe both the national organization and the campus governing body for WVU chapters affiliated nationally with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc.

National Panhellenic Conference  (NPC): The umbrella organization for 26 national and international sororities. NPC exists to promote the values of and to serve as an advocate for its member groups in collaboration with those members, campuses and communities.

North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): Founded in 1909, the North-American Interfraternity Conference, Inc. is the trade association representing many International and National Men's Fraternities.  The NIC serves to advocate the needs of its member fraternities through enrichment of the fraternity experience; advancement and growth of the fraternity community; and enhancement of the educational mission of the host institutions.

Philanthropy: Charitable organization or cause supported financially by chapters on a campus, community or national level.

Rho GammasRecruitment: Recruitment, informally called “rush”, is the time when fraternities and sororities recruit new members. IFC fraternities usually recruit the first two weeks of each semester. Panhellenic sororities usually conduct formal recruitment during the first few weeks of spring semester (for first-year students) and the first two weeks of the fall semester (for returning and transfer students). NPHC fraternities and sororities conduct what they call "intake" throughout the academic year as determined by their membership and inter/national fraternity and sorority headquarters.

Sorority: A group of women bonded together by their ritual that contains the founding principles, ideals and aspirations of the group.  These groups are also called “women’s fraternities”.

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