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  • Rei Pham

Fraternities and Sororities, it's All Greek to Me!

In my previous article, I talked about what media and pop culture don’t tell you about Greek Life. But what is it exactly? Greek Life is a general word for fraternities and sororities. Greek letters are used for each fraternity or sorority names, each with its own unique meaning that is unique to its organizational values.

There are two aspects of Greek Life: Social and Professional.

The social aspect is mostly gender-based, meaning that men would rush for fraternities while women rush for sororities. I say mostly, because some sororities now allow gender-inclusive rushing, meaning that if someone of a different gender identifies themselves as a woman, they are allowed to rush for a sorority. Cheers to a more open-minded society, right? Social fraternities and sororities support local and national causes/charities through philanthropies, each chooses its own organizations. Throughout the academic year, fraternities and sororities host events to raise money for their philanthropy project and support other organizations by participating in their events as well.

The professional aspect of Greek Life is more gender neutral. At my university, all professional organizations are co-ed fraternities, meaning that both men and women can be members.

A professional fraternity is exactly as its name suggests: To develop your professionalism.

These fraternities focus on specific professional fields to help its members find career paths. Because they are Major specific, professional fraternities help you with information on internships or research opportunities in your field. I am a Psychology Major and a Public Health Minor, so I rushed for a Pre-Health Fraternity because that is the path I would like to explore. I was able to attend a Pre-Health Conference with my Fraternity, which was an awesome way to find out what I want to do in the future!

Now, onto the rush process. “Rush” is another term that means “to join”. Just like club rush, rush week at your university is a week where you can check out each fraternity or sorority to see what they are all about and find the one that fits you. I cannot speak for other rush processes, but I can definitely tell you about mine.

To rush for a professional fraternity, you attend the their events during rush week to familiarize yourself and connect with the members to see what they are all about. At the end of the week, they invite you for an interview if they feel you have the potential to become a member of their fraternity.

As far as social organizations go, the social rush process takes 3 days and you will pick your top organizations to revisit the next day. At the end of the third day, organizations will send out a bid to invite you to become a new member of their fraternity or sorority and you have the option of accept or decline the bids.

One difference in joining a Greek organization versus a club is that going Greek is a commitment. Each organization has their own set of rules and bylaws and requires your utmost dedication and loyalty. When I went through rush, the work load was equivalent to another 4-unit course, so if you are thinking of going Greek, make sure you have time to commit.

I say work load because it is definitely a learning process. When you accept your bid into an organization, you are considered a new member until you finish the new member process and get initiated into the organization. You are not considered a fully active member because you have yet to learn about the history, values, and standards of the organization.

I hope this article helps you clear up some confusing aspects about Greek Life and what the Rush process entails. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below and I will answer them to the best of my ability!

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Rei Pham


Rei is a Psychology student at the University of California, Merced. As a Vietnamese immigrant, she understands the challenge of balancing both Vietnamese and American cultures. She is passionate about equality for minorities and wants to introduce the world of possibilities for first generation Vietnamese-Americans. Rei hopes to inspire the youth by sharing her stories in obtaining higher education and the resources available for them to achieve their own success.

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