FAQs About Greek Life for Parents
What is a fraternity or a sorority?
A fraternity is a group of men or women bound together by friendship, brotherhood or sisterhood, and common goals and aspirations. Women's fraternities are most often referred to as sororities. The members that form the fraternity share their friendship, efforts, and knowledge. Their common experience builds ties that last a lifetime. Though there are many different fraternities, they all share common founding principles that are of interest to any college man or woman. Fraternities endeavor to enhance your educational experience by emphasizing intellectual, interpersonal, and social development. The ideals of lifelong friendship, sound education, campus and community service, and social interaction are what fraternity members strive to live by every day.
Will Greek membership affect my child's grades?
Academic achievement is a priority for all Greek organizations. Greek organizations enforce grade point average requirements and offer study sessions, tutoring, and other programs to assist members to succeed academically. Since the Greek chapters are composed of men or women from different classes, with many different majors, and diverse interests, students can always find other members who have already completed the courses they are taking and therefore can offer advice on content and testing. Students who take advantage of the academic opportunities available and properly balance their time between academic and extra-curricular pursuits will find that Greek membership will enhance their academic performance. Studies have consistently found that fraternity and sorority members are significantly more likely to graduate from their program and report more satisfaction with their university experience than for unaffiliated students.
What do Greek members actually do?
Greeks participate in many activities on campus and in the community. For many students, the Greek social life helps to make attending the university a more fulfilling experience. Greek organizations provide a calendar of social activities including formals, homecoming, mixers, athletic activities, retreats, informal get-togethers, and other special events. In addition to social activities fraternity and sorority members are the leaders in many campus groups. Community service is an important aspect of fraternity life as well. Every Greek organization supports a variety of community organizations and will raise funds and awareness around the organizations cause.
Why are fraternities and sororities so secretive?
Fraternities and sororities are founded upon a set of values that are demonstrated for new members as they are initiated. This is done in many ways and is considered the ritual ceremony of the organization. The ritual ceremonies are full of the traditions and stories that the fraternity or sorority holds dear. Secrecy comes with these rituals, as only members are allowed to know the traditions and lore of the organization.
These rituals, however, should not involve hazing, or other inappropriate activities. In most cases, fraternity and sorority initiation ceremonies are one day events. If your student is not permitted to talk to you for extended periods of time, hazing may be an issue, and you should contact the appropriate University Administrators.
What should I do if I believe my student is being hazed?
Parents may find themselves in a difficult position if their son or daughter calls them and shares about their new or potential member experience with a campus organization. Your student may be concerned about hazing or might not even identify the experience as hazing. Yet, you as the parent are uncomfortable with what you've been told. Your student may ask you not to say anything because s/he doesn't want anyone to "get into trouble" or "it will only get worse for me if you inform KU."
Your student's safety is far more important than any campus organization. Please, call the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success at 785-864-4060 to report your concerns. You may report your concerns anonymously or confidentially. Please understand that we must have the name of the organization if we are to take any action. Don't be a bystander, take an active role in eradicating hazing from KU's campus.
What if I believe alcohol or drugs are becoming a problem?
The social aspect of Greek Life is one of the many reasons that students get involved in fraternities and sororities; however, alcohol and substance abuse is not tolerated. Most organizations have mandatory educational sessions on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse, and precautions are taken at events to ensure a safe environment.
The University is also now requiring all newly-enrolled, degree seeking students on the Lawrence campus under the age of 22 as of August 1, 2012 to complete an online alcohol education course. KU utilizes AlcoholEdu for College, an online, science-based program that provides the latest information about alcohol and its effects on the body and mind. The program is personalized to each student based on their previous alcohol education, choices regarding alcohol and gender. AlcoholEdu includes several chapters of content, interactive exercises, and assessments of alcohol-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.
Whether your student chooses to drink or not, this course will empower them to make well informed decisions about their own use of alcohol and help them better cope with the drinking behavior of their friends and peers.
If you believe alcohol or other substances are a problem in your student's chapter, please contact the Greek Life Staff at (785) 864-4861.
What are the financial obligations?
Financial obligations vary from chapter to chapter based whether the chapter is housed or not, what activities they participate in, and what their national organization dues are. As a general guide, if your student joins a chapter that has a house, expect to pay between $4,600 and $7,300 a year. The average housed chapter cost is $5,300 a year. This includes room and board, and any associated fees.
If your student joins a chapter that is not housed, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $2000 a year in dues and fees.
During your student's first year you will likely incur some additional fees, called new member fees. These can range from $500 to $2000.
It's best for you to ask a lot of questions about financial obligations from the specific chapter's your student is considering joining before they sign anything. They must disclose this information to you and it is entirely appropriate to ask!
What are the time commitments of chapter membership?
Most chapters will require 5 hours a week or so for specific chapter events. This varies from chapter to chapter though. Most students will tell you that the time they spend in their fraternity or sorority keeps them just busy enough to help them manage their time wisely. It is the student's responsibility to manage their time when they are in college and they will need to work with the fraternity or sorority on this.
What should I do about Student Housing if my son wants to participate in fraternity recruitment?
We recommend all students submit a Student Housing contract to guarantee a place to live when you come to KU.
This contract may be canceled prior to move-in day, but, as with all contracts, cancelation charges will apply. You may see the full explanation of the policy and current year cancelation charges here. The Student Housing contract is for the full academic year.
KU Student Housing cannot transfer a contract to a fraternity house because Greek chapter houses are not operated by the University. Funds do not transfer between KU Student Housing and privately owned and operated chapter houses.