Fraternity & Sorority Life

Frequently Asked Questions

As parents, you rightly want to know what your son or daughter is considering joining.  Here are some frequently asked questions that our office receives from parents like you: 

How will joining a fraternity or sorority benefit my student after college?

Coming to college is one of the major life changes that your son or daughter will go through. Joining a fraternity or sorority chapter will help make the transition easier. The lifelong friendships your student will make by being a member of a fraternity or sorority will last into post-college years. The friendships that your student develops, not only with the members in his or her chapter, but also within those in the entire community, help make the campus seem smaller. For most members, these chapters become a home away from home.

In addition to the brotherhood and sisterhood, every chapter is dedicated to enhancing leadership, scholarship, and philanthropic and community service endeavors. These ideals form the foundation of the fraternity and sorority experience, and are upheld within a culture of support and growth through academic support programs, leadership training and hands-on experience, educational workshops, social events and projects for community service and philanthropy. Additionally, the strong network of alumni that your student has access to will aid them wherever they end up after college because chances are he or she will be able to find an alumni chapter or members from their fraternity or sorority in the area for professional networking and social support. 

How will joining a Greek organization affect my student’s academic pursuits?

Fraternities and Sororities pride themselves on being a “step above the rest” in terms of academics. Each chapter maintains a certain grade point average that members must strive to attain during their college experience, as well as Student Involvement & Leadership Development and Fraternity & Sorority Life require all social Greek letter organizations to maintain a semesterly cumulative Grade Point Average of a 2.25 or above. All chapters have minimum GPA requirements for membership. Once a student is invited for membership into an organization, they participate in academic support activities such as study hours and tutoring programs to keep members above the minimum standard.

Greek Life hosts a scholarship banquet every semester to honor those fraternity and sorority members who earn a 3.75 GPA or higher. In Spring 2016, 23% of Greek students earned at least a 3.5 GPA, and 50% of Greek students earned a 3.0 or higher.

What are the social aspects of fraternity or sorority membership?

Fraternity & sorority life is social by nature - it is an environment where students are meeting new people, sharing common interests, and socializing in various settings - from the library to weekend social events.

The Greek community at NIU strives to maintain a safe and responsible environment in terms of any social events sponsored by its chapters. All fraternities and sororities must uphold the guidelines that have been put in place by the partnership of the NIU Campus Safety and Student Involvement & Leadership Develop that must be followed in order to hold social functions, both on and off campus. All Greek organizations are held accountable to the Student Code of Conduct and Illinois State Laws. Any organization-hosted events where alcohol is present require a guest list and ID checks. More information about social policies can be found on our Policies & Forms Web page.

What are the safety risks associated with membership in a sorority or fraternity?

It can be perceived that fraternity or sorority membership may compromise a student's safety and well-being. Northern Illinois University takes every precaution to ensure this is not the case. Greek organizations at NIU are required to follow alcohol and risk management policies in accordance with state, local, and federal laws, which are enforced by University administrators as well as the members themselves. In addition, all organizations should have at least one chapter adviser and university faculty or staff liaison to assist and ensure that the chapter is promoting a safe environment for its members.

Is there an alcohol policy?

Each fraternity or sorority on campus has a local or inter/national alcohol policy, which requires members to follow all federal, state, and local laws governing alcohol consumption. In addition, all of our chapters participate in educational programs about alcohol use and abuse. 

Any organization-hosted events where alcohol is present require a guest list and ID checks. More information about policies can be found on our Policies & Forms Web page.

Is hazing a part of the Greek culture at NIU?

Absolutely not. All new members of fraternities and sororities receive training workshops about the dangers of hazing activities, and learn how to identify hazing, and how to report it to the university. The university has no tolerance for hazing activity. All reports of hazing are taken seriously, and result in a chapter investigation.

Northern Illinois University’s hazing policy states:

Acts of hazing include participation in any act or activity by an organization or group or by a member of the organization or group in which a member(s) or prospective member(s) may be subjected to an activity that might cause or create a substantial risk to one's physical or mental health. Hazing includes any act or activity that might cause but is not limited to the following: fear or intimidation; embarrassment or ridicule, physical exhaustion, endangerment, harm, mutilation, or alteration of any part(s) of the body; mental fatigue, harassment, or duress; and defacement, damage, or destruction of property. The intent of the act or the consent or the cooperation of the hazing recipient shall not constitute a defense of hazing. The University or the hazing recipient may charge an individual and/or the Recognized Student Organization with responsibility for the hazing act(s) committed either on or off campus.

If you sense your student may be participating in inappropriate activities as a result of membership in a fraternity or sorority, you should contact Student Involvement & Leadership Development 815-753-1421 or the Department of Police and Public Safety 815-753-1212. Calls will be handled in a discrete manner.

Who is actually in charge of the fraternities and sororities?

Each individual chapter elects their own officers to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These officers are assisted by members serving on committees.  Additionally, they are assisted by alumni who serve as advisors to the officers and general chapter members, as well as an NIU faculty or staff member who serves as a faculty advisor.

Most organizations at NIU are affiliated with an inter/national organization, which governs its chapters and establishes their chapter's regulations, and offers advice and direction through professional staff and regional volunteers. Student Involvement & Leadership Development staff members also advise the council executive boards, as well as conduct monthly meetings with the presidents of each organization to insure that the chapter is productive, efficient, and in good standing. 

What is the financial obligation?

While the costs involved in being a member of a Fraternity & Sorority chapter vary, it is important to know that each organization does collect dues and some have initiation costs as well. The costs go toward headquarters fees, chapter operating expenses, academic, philanthropic, and social programming.

Financial obligations differ among individual chapters. New members can expect to pay higher dues their first semester. Additional costs throughout the semester might go to meal plans, pictures, social events, T-shirts, etc. Several chapters at NIU offer payment plans and scholarships for members who need financial assistance. While your son or daughter is participating in the membership intake/recruitment process, make sure that he or she asks about the financial obligations of membership.

How much time does Fraternity & Sorority membership involve?

The time commitment varies from chapter to chapter but the first semester is the most time intensive as the new member goes through the chapter's new member education/membership intake program. The time spent in this program will give your student the opportunity to develop their leadership and time management skills, learn about the history of the organization, develop friendships with their new member class, as well as the rest of the chapter, and allow them to become involved with other organizations.

After initiation, the time commitment may be less intensive; however, each organization’s expectations will vary. Each chapter has weekly chapter meetings and other mandatory events (philanthropic, service, initiation) throughout the year. These events should be planned in advance, so students can plan their schedules accordingly. If a student chooses to be highly involved and seek out leadership roles, the time commitment to the organization is much higher; if a student simply attends weekly meetings and goes to required events, it might only be 2-3 hours per week. 

How does my son or daughter join a fraternity or sorority at Northern Illinois University?

Your son or daughter will receive information about recruitment through campus announcements and fliers, helpful information sessions and personal invitations from members. Each of the four councils has a different style of recruiting members. For more information on how to join a specific council, please refer to the Join a Chapter page. 

What fraternity and sorority housing is available to my child?

Most Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council fraternities and sororities at Northern Illinois University have a housing facility located a few block away from the heart of campus.  These private facilities are often owned by the organization’s inter/national headquarters, a housing corporation, or an alumni board. Students typically don't live in Greek houses until their second year of college - it is rare that second semester freshmen move into a fraternity or sorority house. For sororities, many have meal plans and costs that are comparable to a residence hall. Fraternity houses do not usually have a formal meal plan. Costs for housing vary per chapter. 

What is the room rate for fraternity/sorority housing and how does that compare to campus housing prices?

Each chapter sets their own room rates and fees depending on chapter size, number of people occupying the facility or other considerations. Information regarding specific rates and fees must be obtained directly from the chapter and should be provided to all potential new members. For sororities, many have meal plans and costs that are comparable to a residence hall. Fraternity houses do not usually have a formal meal plan. Costs for housing vary per chapter. 

Where do I go to learn more?

Fraternity & Sorority Life at Northern Illinois University is advised by the individuals in Student Involvement & Leadership Development. For general information, please contact Student Involvement & Leadership Development (815-753-1421) or email fsl@niu.edu.

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