A Parent’s Guide to Fraternity and Sorority Life

There are currently more than 50 general collegiate fraternal organizations on campus, divided into four governing councils. The councils are the Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Panhellenic Council, United Council of Fraternities and Sororities. Each of these groups represents the entire general collegiate national fraternal community at the university. There are also three National Honor Societies specifically comprised of member of general fraternities and sororities.

Academics

Academic success is important to your son or daughter’s new organization. All chapters have a minimum GPArequirement to remain in good standing with the chapter. Also, chapters have campus advisors and alumni/ae advisory boards who serve as support and oversight bodies for the membership in all areas of fraternal life, including academic achievement.

Financial Responsibility

Students and advisory boards set the dues for each fraternal organization, while incorporating national fees and liability insurance. Dues for all chapters go to pay for operational expenses, philanthropic endeavors, intramural sports, insurance, academic incentives, social programs, and parent and alumni/ae functions. They also pay for leadership training, retreat costs, and sponsorship of members for national leadership conferences. No membership dues are permitted to go toward the purchase of alcohol or other illegal activities.

Hazing and Substance Use

Physical and mental hazing is banned by the university, the international fraternal organizations, and by the laws of the state of Virginia. Fraternities and sororities at Virginia Tech recognize that hazing has no place in their organizations and that it will not be tolerated at Virginia Tech. We facilitate regular discussions with chapter about how a hazing-free experience creates stronger, better, and more quality fraternities/sororities.

Research tells us that more and more students are entering college having experienced some form of hazing by a previous organization as a rookie member. The desire for friendship and connection can often outweigh the need to walk away from a chapter that believes in activities that could exist somewhere on the hazing continuum. At one end are group-building activities that elicit no physical or emotional harm. The other other end would be activities that result in psychologial or emotional trauma/injury. What is reasonable for one new member to endure is unreasonable for another. While chapters bear the greater responsbility for creating a hazing-free experience, our organizations are made better when new members expect a hazing-free experience as well. Many times there are few external indicators of hazing - being on probation, poor grades, type of people, etc. aren't always enough. There are many questions they should consider - and questions you should ask them. For example, 

  • Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents were watching?
  • Would we get in trouble if a college administrator walked by and saw us?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does participation in this activity violate my values or those espoused by this organization?
  • Is this causing emotional or physical distress or stress to myself or to others?

If you have questions and would like to speak with a professional staff member in our office, simply give us a call at 540-231-6609 and any one of us will be happy to assist.   

Time Commitment

In addition to the organization’s philanthropic, social, and recreational functions, group meetings and other activities, such as study hours and service events, sometimes members are participating in fraternity and sorority life between about four to eight hours per week. Some organizations require more time than others. Be sure to ask questions regarding time commitments during the formal and informal recruitment/intake programs. A member's time commitment is complete dependant on what they would like to gain from their membership and leadership in a chapter.

Leadership Education and Community Development

Scholarship: Scholarship and academic success are two of the most important aspects of your student’s life at Virginia Tech. The fraternities and sororities promote academics in a variety of ways and have regularly performed above the all-men’s and all-women’s GPA for many years.

Service: Each semester our fraternity and sorority members here and across the country participate in a wide variety of community service projects. These projects take many forms and benefit many worthy causes like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the March of Dimes, the American Red Cross, the Montgomery County Humane Society, and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Leadership: Fraternities and sororities provide ample opportunities for students to gain leadership skills that they often cannot find anywhere else during their collegiate years. Collegiate fraternal organizations are self-governing, self-running communities, so committee members and chapter officers are responsible for the operation of the chapter. Fraternity and Sorority Life at Virgnia Tech has built its program on leadership education and our Fraternal Leaders Institute series consists of several programs available to members. We also offer opportunities to attend regional and leadership conferences like the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values Conference (AFLV), National Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Conventions and Conferences, and national leadership institutes like the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI). Collegiate fraternal organizations also encourage members to hold leadership positions in organizations outside of the chapter.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood: The friendships that your son or daughter will experience in a fraternal organization are invaluable. Being initiated into a fraternity or sorority is life-time membership that comes with a family away from home and a constant support group not just during college, but forever.

Career Networking: Fraternities and sororities have active chapter alumni/ae and national alumni/ae associations that are directly involved with the chapters.