Parents and Families
Sending a child or family member to college can be a challenging and stressful time in a parent's or family member’s life. While at Winthrop University, your child will encounter many opportunities to become involved outside of their classroom experience. It is important that you be educated about the enriching experience that your son or daughter will find by being involved in a fraternity or sorority at Winthrop University.
What is being involved in a fraternity or sorority all about?
Knowing what you have seen on television and read in the local newspaper, the reality is that those are extreme cases of fraternity and sorority life. What the media will not tell you as a parent is that there are many life-long benefits to membership in fraternities and sororities. At a university like Winthrop, membership in a fraternity or sorority offers a small community of friends away from home. Additionally, national research has shown that involvement in fraternities and sororities increases students' chances of graduating from college. As a life-long member of a fraternity or sorority, students are offered the opportunity to develop as leaders, serve the local community, and focus on academics, as well as their careers, by connecting with local alumni members of fraternities and sororities.
Fraternities and sororities exist as a proven support network for your son or daughter as he or she embarks on this new period in life. Close to a million students across the country currently are fraternity or sorority members. The fraternity and sorority community makes up 13% of the Winthrop student body. A fraternity or sorority can help personalize your son’s or daughter’s experience at college by offering a scholastic support system; by providing hands-on experience in leading committees, managing budgets, and interacting with faculty and administrators; by exposing the student to potential careers through educational programs and discussions with alumni; by offering the chance to give back to the community through service projects; and by creating close friendships with men and women that will cheer him or her on when times are tough. With all these opportunities available, it is no wonder that fraternity and sorority members tend to graduate from college at a significantly higher rate than those not involved in fraternities or sororities.
What about alcohol and fraternities/sororities?
Alcohol abuse is unhealthy and inconsistent with fraternity ideals. All fraternities and sororities are expected to uphold state and city laws, and university, fraternity/sorority, and IFC/NPHC/Panhellenic (the governing boards for fraternities and sororities) policies regarding consumption of alcohol. In addition, fraternities are not allowed to purchase alcohol for members or guests. The days of open keg parties at Greek social functions are gone. Today’s fraternities and sororities strive to promote responsibility concerning alcohol.
What about pledging or hazing?
New fraternity and sorority members all experience a period of orientation. During this time, your son or daughter and other new members will participate in weekly meetings to learn about the university and the fraternity/sorority history, leadership retreats, community service projects, and activities designed to build friendships among new members and initiated members. ALL FRATERNITY AND SORORITY POLICIES FORBID HAZING and are committed to a membership education period that instills a sense of responsibility and commitment in new members. This period will assist your son or daughter in overcoming some of the concerns about success in college.
It can be perceived that fraternity or sorority membership may compromise a student's safety and well-being. This certainly is not the case. In order to be recognized by the University, all fraternities and sororities are required to follow fairly strict alcohol and risk management policies. The policies are in accordance with the state law of South Carolina, and are enforced by both Winthrop University administrators and members of fraternities and sororities themselves. In addition, all organizations should have at least one alumni adviser and university faculty or staff advisor to assist and ensure that the chapter is promoting a safe environment for its members (both in and outside of the physical facility).
Hazing is both against university policy as well as state law. Hazing is defined as "Doing, requiring or encouraging any act, whether or not the act is voluntarily agreed upon, in conjunction with initiation or continued membership or participation in any group, that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, use of alcohol, creation of excessive fatigue, and paddling, punching or kicking in any form" and will not be tolerated.
What impact could fraternity/sorority membership have on grades?
Student’s often find it difficult to manage their time when moving from the highly structured high school environment to the freedoms of college. Fraternities and sororities assist in that transition by offering scholarship programs that may include study partners, test taking strategies, and incentives, along with management workshops. Your son or daughter can access and network with members who already know how to use campus resources such as the library, tutors, computer labs, study lounges, and academic advisors. While Greek organizations are concerned about members’ academic achievement, your son or daughter is still ultimately responsible for utilizing the resources made available to students at Winthrop University. The Fraternity and Sorority community prides itself on the all-Greek GPA being above the non-Greek GPA.
Grade and Service Reports
Who is actually “in charge” of the fraternity or sorority?
Fraternity and sorority 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. All of our fraternities and sororities are also part of an (inter) national organization that offers support, advice, and direction through paid professional staff members and regional volunteers. The Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Sarah Pankratz, is also employed to assist, educate, and monitor the activities of Greek organizations.
Doesn’t it cost a lot of money to be in a fraternity or a sorority?
Each fraternity or sorority is self-supporting through dues charged to members. In the first year of membership, a few one-time expenses are assessed. After those initial payments are made, your son’s or daughter’s expense will be the regular monthly dues. A variety of payment plans are usually offered and should be explored.
Doesn’t being in a fraternity or sorority take a lot of time?
Participating in any worthwhile activity always requires an investment of one’s time. Research has shown that involved college students are more likely to graduate and they report greater satisfaction with their college experience. Through his or her Greek involvement, your son or daughter will learn how to balance academics, work, campus involvement, and social commitments. Many Winthrop Greeks also work part-time (around 20 hours a week).
My child is considering joining a fraternity or sorority, what advice should I give them?
Since joining a fraternity or sorority is a lifelong commitment, and there is an expense associated with membership, it should be a joint decision between student and parent. Consider sitting down with your son or daughter and research all of the organizations that are available to join. Utilizing local chapter and national websites are a great, convenient way to gather information.
Be supportive, and learn as much as you can by asking your son or daughter questions before they join. Many groups will provide written statements concerning activities, finances, and policies; your son or daughter should be encouraged to obtain and read this information. In addition, allow your son or daughter to make his/her own choice (especially if you yourself were Greek). Your support should not end after the recruitment period but continue throughout your son’s or daughter’s years in school.
As an educated consumer, consider asking the following questions before your child joins a fraternity or sorority
- What is expected of fraternity/sorority members?
- What leadership opportunities are available to students as both new members and active members?
- Does the chapter perform hands-on community service? If so, how often?
- Does the fraternity or sorority require members to live in the facility (if housing is available)? If so, for how long?
- What is the quarterly/annual expense associated with membership? How does this vary as a new member?
- What type of member is the chapter looking for?
- What values does this organization promote?
- Is the organization officially recognized by the University? If not, why is this the case?
I am not Greek, how can I learn more about it?
Web sites to take a closer look at:
How does my son or daughter go about joining a fraternity or sorority?
Fraternities and sororities utilize a process commonly referred to as “recruitment” or “intake” in order to meet prospective members. Recruitment offers nonaffiliated students an opportunity to meet a number of other people on campus and to learn what each group has to offer. Potential members are encouraged to ask questions and secure answers to each question from several members. Just like researching, visiting, and choosing a college, your son or daughter should seek out the fraternity/sorority that best fits his/her personality, needs, and desires. Potential members will find what they want if they keep an open mind and have the required grade point average (GPA). Each group has different GPA standards, so check with individual groups for its requirements. Although Winthrop requires each student to have a minimum of 12 college credit hours and a 2.5 cumulative Winthrop or transfer GPA, it’s never too early to start researching and attending Greek events.