As a parent or family member, you obviously want your student to get the best education they can. Certainly the education they receive in the classroom is the primary reason for coming to Wittenberg University. But at Wittenberg education also occurs beyond the classroom walls. It includes the whole college experience.
What are the advantages of becoming a member of a fraternal organization?
Becoming a member of a fraternal organization will provide your student with skills and experiences that will help prepare them for not only a career, but for life. These advantages include:
- Leadership skills: learned through offices in the chapter, through governing Greek councils, and educational programs offered on campus and by the (inter) national organizations.
- Academic success: provided through planned study sessions, mentorships with older members of the chapter, guest speakers at meetings, and faculty collaborations.
- Educational programming: each chapter hosts a number of guest lectures on topics ranging from alcohol awareness and personal safety, to study skills and financial management.
- Enduring friendships and alumni contacts: Being in a fraternity/sorority does not stop at graduation. When someone joins, they are a lifelong member. As such, they develop contacts and acquaintances that can help them when looking for a job or when they need advice. With over 150 years of history on our campus Wittenberg fraternity/sorority alumni/ae are there to help.
- Life skill development and career networking- Greek life is the premier college opportunity for developing life skills. Members learn to work with people who have a variety of personality traits, to live together and manage a home, to mediate conflict, and to effectively communicate through interviews and career situations as well as informal settings. In addition, all chapters have networking systems in place to help members connect to others in their career path. Local alumni associations are great contacts for internships, references, and prospective job interviews.
- Developing a sense of civic responsibility: In an average year, Wittenberg's fraternity/sorority members work over 10,000 volunteer hours and donate over $15,000 for local and national organizations. From tutoring children in the Springfield Promise Neighborhood, to assisting the Second Harvest Food Bank, to supporting a Girl Scout Troop, or being a Big Brother our members are giving back to the community. Greek members use this experience to become active members of their churches, schools and local governments later in life.
- It's fun!: The most immediate benefit for your son or daughter is the activities and social events sponsored by each chapter. Whether it is a chapter event, or a Greek Week event, your student will be around a group of students who know how to enjoy themselves responsibly.
Who is actually in charge?
Students elect their own officers from their membership. These officers deal with the day-to-day operations of the organization. Each member learns cooperation and planning skills. Alumni act as advisers to the officers and general chapter members. The houses of each organization are owned by a "House Corporation" that manages monies, collects rent and pays bills. Most chapters also have a dedicated faculty or administration member that serves as an on-campus advisor, primarily assisting members with academic engagement, time management, and providing access to various resources.
Each group is governed by a national/international organization, which establishes chapter regulations and offers advice and direction through professional staff that visit the chapter at least once a year. Additionally, the University employs a full-time masters-level professional who works with the governing fraternity/sorority councils, as well as the individual chapters.
How does someone become a member?
During the Spring semester, the governing fraternity/sorority councils, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), and the Panhellenic Council ("Panhel"), sponsor what's called "formal recruitment." It is a series of planned events that provide interested students the opportunity to visit each chapter and meet the members. The NPHC or historically African-American chapters conduct membership intake on an individual chapter basis. It should be noted that registration or participation in Wittenberg Fraternity and Sorority Recruitment is NOT an offer nor a guarantee of membership. Membership selection is at the sole discretion of each chapter and its members and is not influenced or controlled by the Wittenberg IFC, Wittenberg Panhellenic, nor Wittenberg Office of Student Involvement.
Once recruitment is over, and the chapter has offered an invitation to membership which the student accepts, they become a "new member." Each chapter has different rules, guidelines and terms for this period that lasts 4 to 8 weeks. The student will spend time learning about the history of the fraternity or sorority, rules, history and traditions. Once the new member period is over, they will be inducted into full membership (be sure to have your student ask about each chapter's requirements).
How much does it cost?
You may have heard the cliche about fraternity/sorority members "buying their friends." Nothing is farther from the truth. Like any national organization, there are bills to pay and costs of membership. When your student becomes a new member, there is usually a fee paid to the national/international organization. There also are semester dues and fees. When it is time to become a full member, there is usually a one-time fee to be paid to the inter/national organization that covers the cost of their badge, certificate, and certain other items. Dues and other fees go to keep the house and inter/national organization running. Without them, the chapters could not function.
If your student lives in the house, there are room and board fees that are comparable to and most often less than residence hall or off-campus housing costs. These costs vary for each chapter but the total cost is comparable to what room, board, utility, and entertainment costs are for non-Greek students. Encourage your student to ask about the specific costs when they go through recruitment and to share financial obligations with you each semester. Understand that different organizations have different fees and obligations for members who study abroad, need a specialized meal plan, or have a documented need for accommodation. Every chapter uses a different dues structure and some also use third-party agencies for billing; be sure you ask your student about the mechanics of dues and billing upon joining.
We know that the financial obligations of membership can be a barrier to membership. We've learned through research that the better we explain the financial obligations, and the return on their financial investment. Help our students prepare which questions to ask or how to evaluate information, the less financial obligations become less of a barrier to joining. With that, LaunchPoint, has developed a short video to help students and their parents/caregivers to better understand the financial obligations of membership and how to determine if it is the right investment for our students.
Take a look at the Financial Obligations for Fraternities & Sororities video provided by LaunchPoint.
Who do I talk to about my student's billing statement for fraternity/sorority charges?
Wittenberg University provides a third-party billing service for Greek organizations that request it. This third-party relationship requires the University to refer any student/family disputes related to charges billed by the University on behalf of the Greek chapter to the designated contact person that the chapter assigns. This person is often the organization's House Corporation treasurer or president (usually an alumnus/alumna of the organization) or the chapter treasurer. While the University staff will do our best to answer questions regarding student billing statements for fraternity/sorority charges, the best contact will usually be the House Corporation. Your student should have the name and contact information for members of the House Corporation; if this information is not available, please call (937) 327-7820.
What are living conditions like in fraternity/sorority houses? Are there R.A.s in the houses?
Fraternity/Sorority houses are homes. Each house has a living room, or common area, multiple bathrooms, kitchen and dining room. Most have computer facilities, wireless internet, laundry facilities, and cable or satellite T.V. access. But the comforts of home are not what make fraternity and sorority houses homes--it is the brothers/sisters that flourish in an environment that promotes learning and friendship. Most chapters offer opportunities for family members to visit the houses multiple times a year. While the university does not employ staff to live in the chapter houses, most chapters employ a live-in house director who has oversight of the house operations and is a primary contact for the House Corporation.
What about alcohol?
The days of open keg parties at fraternity/sorority social functions are gone. Today's fraternities and sororities promote responsible use of alcohol. Our fraternity/sorority community has been on the cutting-edge of the alcohol issue. Each chapter holds seminars on responsible alcohol use. Our fraternity/sorority chapters are expected to abide by the university's alcohol policy and Safe Social Hosting procedures. All of WIttenberg's chapter houses have or are in the process of adopting rules that prohibit alcohol on the premises.
What about hazing?
Undoubtedly, you've heard about hazing in the media. Wittenberg University and every national/international fraternity and sorority on campus has strict policies against it. Hazing is not tolerated at Wittenberg; if an incident is suspected or reported, the involved students and/or groups will be addressed through the university's Conduct process.
If you ever suspect your student may have been hazed (or harassed), please call 937-327-7820 or click here for more information on how to report hazing. Additional information and resources about hazing and prevention can be found online here.
What is my role as a parent?
As a parent, you can be supportive of your student's efforts to join a chapter. Learn as much as you can about the fraternities and sororities at Wittenberg. Many groups provide websites and written statements concerning activities, finances and policies. Allow your student to make their own choice (especially if you are a member of a fraternity or sorority). Participate in chapter sponsored events for alumni and parents. Come to Family Weekend (coincides with homecoming), if possible. We hope your support will continue throughout your student's years at Wittenberg.
- Greek Life Definitions: Provides basic definitions for words you may hear or may have heard regarding Greek Life
- Information on Greek Housing Regulations: Greek Housing Bill S713 rationale
- Talk One-2-One: 800-756-3124
Talk One-2-One is a resource for confidential, convenient, and 24/7 support for a number of problems that may be challenging your health or well-being. We believe that no issue is too small. You can call us for a wide range of issues, such as dealing with stress and anxiety, family problems, roommate issues, and drug or alcohol abuse. More information can be found by clicking on the Talk One-2-One link above.