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Frequently Asked Questions

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. Together these members learn and grow and make the fraternity strong. Their common experience builds ties that last a lifetime. This forms a brotherhood or sisterhood among the members, which helps to develop strong and creative leadership that leads to success.

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.

Social opportunities, philanthropic projects, community service, tradition, career networking, and becoming part of an international organization are all reasons mentioned for becoming part of the Fraternal community, but the one cited most often by members is the sense of brotherhood/sisterhood. After all, you don't have to join a fraternity or sorority to have a great social life in the University. You don't have to pay dues to a Greek letter organization to volunteer or raise money for a cause. You don't have to belong to the Fraternal community to acquire the personal development and study skills to succeed at the University. The element of brotherhood/sisterhood is nonetheless a difficult attribute to convey to men and women interested in joining the Fraternal system. It is a feeling of togetherness, support, and teamwork. It is companionship, personal discovery, challenge, and awareness.

Joining a Fraternal organization is one way to make the University of West Florida seem smaller, friendlier, and easier to handle — it gives you a place and people to count on. Fraternities and sororities 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 FSL members strive to live by every day.

The Fraternal community is a diverse group of men and women belonging to a variety of different fraternities and sororities on campuses across North America. The first Fraternal organization was founded in 1776, when students realized a need to discuss current events outside the classroom. Fraternal societies have since taken on a broader role to develop the moral, mental, and social skills of their members. Each individual fraternity and sorority possesses a set of principles that guide the actions of its members.

The University of West Florida’s Fraternal community, founded in 1967, provides members with academic, leadership, social, and educational opportunities that contribute to a well-rounded university experience. It comprises slightly over 7 percent of the student population. There are currently 11 national fraternities and 10 national sororities governed by 4 different councils. Many members of Fraternal chapters are also leaders on campus in a wide range of student organizations and on athletic teams. Fraternities and sororities contribute significant amounts of time working with, and raising funds for, local and national community service organizations and agencies.

There are a few things to consider before joining a sorority or fraternity:

1. Determine your eligibility. Students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority at UWF must meet these eligibility requirements.

  • Enrollment at the University of West Florida in the current semester.
  • Classification as a degree-seeking student.
  • Minimum high school GPA of 3.00 for first time in college students or minimum 2.50 GPA for transfer or returning UWF students.
  • Completion of Fraternity and Sorority Life Information Session. 

We would like to encourage you to speak with the chapter or Council you are interested in joining for additional requirements.  Some chapters have a higher GPA requirement and/or require a certain amount of credit hours earned before joining. 

2. Ask questions of members. Here are a few questions for you to ask current members of Fraternal organizations to help you determine which chapter is best for you:

  • Why did you join a Fraternal organization?
  • How did you choose this chapter?
  • In which philanthropic and community service projects does your chapter participate?
  • What are the financial obligations of membership?
  • How will Fraternal life benefit me now and in the future?
  • What is the time commitment involved?
  • How has your life changed as a member of a Fraternal organization?

Initiation into a Greek letter organization is by a secret ceremony where a new or associate member becomes a fully initiated, life-member of the organization. During this ceremony you will learn the deeper meanings of the fraternity or sorority and the reasons why they exist. Each member’s initiation is the same, and because of this, the ceremony becomes the binding force that interlocks each member to the whole body. The secrecy involved with the initiation process teaches respect and trust. There are no offensive or hazing practices involved in a fraternal initiation. A fraternal organization that engaged in hazing activities would not be allowed to exist at the University of West Florida.

Like most other worthwhile extra-curricular activities, how much you get out of your Fraternal membership is directly related to how much you put in. On average, expect to contribute two to four hours per week for meetings and mandatory activities. Optional activities such as holding an office, attending social events, playing on an intramural sports team, or helping out with various projects will of course take additional time. Some organizations require more time than others. Be sure to ask questions regarding time commitments during recruitment.

Whether it is planning a party, a community service project, or regular weekly meetings, fraternity members have learned to manage their time wisely with other commitments like homework, relationships, and jobs. Commuting students specifically gain a home-away-from-home that enables them to be a part of the University of West Florida life. Through Fraternal involvement, you will meet diverse friends and be linked to an international network of more than 4.5 million members providing continual contact and activities wherever they go in life. Perhaps this is also why so many Fraternal members have found great success in life. 

Members participate in many activities on campus and in the community. For many students, the fraternal social life helps to make attending the university a more fulfilling experience. Fraternal organizations provide a calendar of social activities including formals, homecoming, mixers, athletic activities, retreats, informal gatherings, and other special events. In addition to social activities fraternity and sorority members are the leaders in many campus clubs and groups and are especially active in the student government association.

Finally, community service is an important aspect of fraternity life. Every fraternal organization has an official charity to raise funds and awareness for. It is safe to say that no other segment of the student population has dedicated more time and resources, or has raised more money for charity than the members of our Fraternal community. From volunteering in regional hospitals and food banks, to giving blood, to raising money for charities such as Big Brothers Program or the Children's Miracle Network, the University of West Florida’s fraternities and sororities are lending a helping hand.

The social aspect of Fraternal 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.

Academic achievement is a priority for all Fraternal organizations. Many organizations enforce grade point average requirements and offer study sessions, tutoring, and other programs to assist members in achieving their potential. Since the Fraternal chapters are composed of men or women from different years, with many different majors, and diverse interests, you can always find someone in your field of study that can offer advice and support.

Students who take advantage of the academic opportunities available and properly balance their time between academic and extra-curricular pursuits will find that membership will enhance their academic performance. Several studies have consistently found that fraternity and sorority members tend to be significantly more likely to graduate from their program and report more satisfaction with their university experience than for unaffiliated students.

Fraternities and sororities exemplify democracy in action. They are families, communities, and some are legal corporations with annual operating budgets of over $50,000. Many members live and learn to work within this environment. Officers within each chapter are elected to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees and by alumni who act as advisors. Additionally, many organizations have regional and international leadership conferences where students learn a variety of leadership skills. Finally, members can serve on a variety of university and Fraternal Council governance, judicial, and other Fraternal life sub-committees. Fraternities and sororities provide a solid foundation in leadership training that prepares students for the demands and responsibilities needed for the future.

The role of the alumni as advisors or International Fraternal officers and consultants is substantial. Lifetime friendships expand beyond individual chapters to include all members of the national and international Fraternal life community. Alumni organizations help students network for potential employment opportunities after graduation, and keep in touch through newsletters, correspondence, meetings, and special alumni events.

The sizes of chapters vary from one to another and from university to university. In smaller schools a chapter may have 20 members while at large universities the membership may be close to 150. At the University of West Florida, fraternal organization's membership ranges from 5 to 80.

The words fraternity and sorority are used interchangeably for women's Fraternal-letter groups. Fraternity is derived from the Greek word "phrater," meaning brother, sister, or clan. "Soror," the source word for sorority, is Latin and means sister. The word "sorority" did not come into usage until the late 1800s and groups founded prior to then are officially incorporated as women's fraternities. Today the term "sorority" is used to distinguish women's groups from men's groups.

"In accordance with Section 1006.63, Florida Statutes, "Hazing" is defined as any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. "Hazing" includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student." (UWF/REG-3.018 Prohibition of Hazing – Definition of Hazing)

Hazing is not tolerated at the University of West Florida or within Fraternal Organizations.

"Recruitment" is a period when fraternities and sororities on campus organize a new member selection period. It is a time for students to ask questions of members, define financial obligations, time commitments, and membership requirements. Recruitment is year-round, but the formal recruitment period is at the beginning of the fall academic term.

Recruitment is a two-way process when fraternities and sororities are looking at you, and you are looking at fraternities and sororities. You are deciding which organization most interests you, which has the members you relate to the most, and where you feel the most comfortable. At the same time, members of the chapter are meeting you and others going through recruitment. Chapters are looking at individuals who can contribute to their membership in terms of grades, activities, talents, and interests. It isn't a hard process and once you're involved, you'll find you like it.

The membership intake process is the process for which prospective members are educated about a chapter's history, organization, and community service. It is the initial procedure for some historically African-American and culturally-based fraternities and sororities.

Most organizations require their members to complete a educational period, called “new member education" prior to initiation for the purpose of orientation and member development. During this time you'll learn the history, traditions, and operating procedures of the organization and participate in activities to get to know the members better. Organizations use various terms to refer to their pre-initiates, including "new member", "associate member", and "candidate". The duration of the new member period varies from group to group but is no more than an academic semester. Some organizations require new members to achieve a certain grade point average during their new member semester in order to qualify for initiation into the organization.

Given the benefits provided, Fraternal membership is a bargain. However, students should consider the costs in planning their personal budgets. Dues vary from chapter to chapter because of size, insurance and tax assessments, national fee structures, etc. Most chapters offer a variety of payment plan options. Students should be aware that there may be one-time costs established by the international headquarters (if applicable) for initiation and pledging during the first semester of membership. It is best to contact the individual chapters to determine the actual cost of membership.

The demographics of Fraternal membership are similar to that of other UWF students. Many members hold a part-time job, collect financial aid and grants, and pay their dues by installments. It is important to ask the question about finances before making the commitment and make a plan that works best for you.

The University of West Florida currenlty does not have residence halls for fraternities and/or sororities.  However, after joining an organization, some students choose to live with members of their organization in future semesters.

Sororities and fraternities are commonly known as Greek organizations and their members as "Greeks" because a majority of them use Greek letters to distinguish themselves. It is not a reflection of the ancestry of the individual members. Greek letters were chosen during the 1800s for a variety of reasons including: a tribute to the first true democracies in the Western World; the fact that many of the organizations used Greek (and sometimes Latin) words for their secret and public mottoes, officers etc; and because many of the organizations grew from literary societies that were dedicated to the discussion of classical literature as was popular among the educated classes of the time. This term is further solidified today by the use of Greek architectural elements including pediments and columns commonly adorning fraternity and sorority houses.

At some point, most of our chapter members also had to have “the talk” with their families. We encourage you to tell them to visit our website. If your parents have specific questions or concerns, we can help you answer them. There are numerous undergraduate leaders, alumni, fraternity/sorority inter/national headquarters staff, University administrators and even other parents who are more than willing to share their personal insights and experiences.

In business terms, think about each chapter as a local franchise of an inter/national corporation. Undergraduate members are elected to officer positions and manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees and by alumni serving as advisors. The inter/national headquarters provides each chapter with oversight, support, and guidance through paid professional staff and regional volunteers. Professional University staff members are also employed to assist, educate, and monitor the activities of Fraternal organizations at the University of West Florida.