A Parents Guide
Perceptions of fraternity and sorority life differ widely among parents and students entering college. We hope that this page will bring those perceptions together and, in doing so, answer many of the questions typically asked by parents, regardless of their familiarity with the Greek community. We also hope to convey the many opportunities available through fraternity and sorority membership.
Social fraternities and sororities have been an integral part of student life at The University of Alabama for a long time. Fraternities began forming here in 1847 and as women's enrollment increased, the first sorority chapter was started in 1904. As the University population began to diversify, the first national historically black fraternity and sorority formed on campus in 1974. These organizations have made important contributions to University life and today over 7000 students - nearly 28% of the undergraduate student population at the Capstone.
The rich history of The University of Alabama Greek system has been a productive one and a unique part of that tradition continues after graduation. Fraternal bonds contribute actively to the preservation of history and folklore of the Capstone and, ultimately, to the support of the University. In the Tuscaloosa area, the Greek community provides important support to local charity and community service agencies.
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Greek life is a jointure - a time when friendships are cemented and close ties are woven between members through living, studying, working, and competing together. These relationships go beyond ordinary friendship and become like those of family - often lasting a lifetime.
College is a time for education and development. Many chapters, from pledging to graduation, stress academics. Greeks provide both the resources - study sessions, files of class materials, and tutoring assistance - and the incentives - scholarship awards and recognition - for academic achievement. Please feel free to view past semester Scholarship Reports.
Greek-letter organizations have been self-sufficient since their inception. Fraternities and sororities pay their own way, through dues, membership fees, and, often, one-time pledge/associate and initiation fees. IFC and Panhellenic chapters with houses charge room and board depending on whether members live in the house or not. In general, the costs of living independently or in a fraternity or sorority house are comparable, and often can be less expensive. The cost of membership in a Greek organization varies from group to group. The average cost per semester for a sorority member who lives in the sorority house is approximately $3,400.00 and $2,100.00 for a member who lives out of the sorority house. The approximate average cost of a fraternity member who lives in a fraternity house is $3,300.00 per semester and $2,300.00 for a member who does not live in the house. In addition to these costs, new members can expect to pay one-time fees during the first semester in the organization. These fees may include a pledge/new member fee, and an initiation fee. The average cost of these fees for a sorority member is approximately $250.00 and $175.00 for a fraternity member. Fees may vary from year to year, and the figures provided above are only rough estimates of what organizations may charge. The cost of membership in an NPHC fraternity or sorority is significantly less that those of the IFC and Panhellenic organizations. If your student is interested in joining an NPHC organization, he or she should attend an interest meeting at the individual chapters for information about financial obligations.
Many chapters have sinking funds of varying amounts that are used to pay for T-shirts, party favors, and party pictures. Although members are not required to purchase any of these, most member choose to do so.
Please note that when your son or daughter becomes a new member of a fraternity or sorority, he or she is affiliating with that organization, and should he or she decide to disaffiliate with that organization, he or she may be held responsible for some fees that can not be removed from his or her bills.
Many of the chapters at the University of Alabama use Greek Resource Services as managers for their billing and accounting needs. If you receive a bill from Greek Resource Services and need to contact them you can do so by calling 205-758-7754 or visiting their website at: www.greekresourceservices.com.
IFC and Panhellenic chapters maintain houses on campus that are operated and owned by alumni housing corporations. Living arrangements differ from chapter to chapter but most provide meal plans, house directors, and kitchen staff. Some NPHC groups lease small group housing from the University. Each group has a specific set of rules regarding requirements for members to live in the sorority or fraternity house during their undergraduate careers.
For many students, the Greek social life helps to make college a more fulfilling experience. Fraternities and sororities offer more of a family atmosphere that residence halls or living off campus. Opportunities to meet new friends increase through social events offered by the chapters. Whether the events are informal get-togethers, football games, swaps, or formal dances, the social environment provides another opportunity to develop and mature as a responsible adult.
One strong tradition of Greeks is their support of national and local philanthropies. Each semester, chapters and individual members volunteer their time as well as raise money to benefit worthy causes. Tutoring, mentoring, providing supplies to needy families, and donating money are all an integral part of the fraternity experience. UA Greek members have worked hard over the past two years to raise over $330,000.00 for charity through the Greek Links campaign.
Greek organizations exemplify democracy in action. They are families, communities, and legal corporations operating $100,000 budgets. New members learn to live and work within these communities, practicing responsibility and leadership. Greeks are not only involved in many campus organizations, such as SGA, honor societies, cheerleading, orientation and Capstone Men and Women, but also hold important leadership positions.
Membership in a fraternity or sorority is for a lifetime. Many alumni return to campus and the house for football games and other special events. Alumni organizations keep in touch through newsletters and special weekends. Lifetime friendships extend beyond the individual chapters to include all members of the national Greek community.
If you have any questions or need additional information, you can contact the Greek Life Office by calling (205)348-2693 or by visiting the Greek Affairs Office which is located on the second floor of the Ferguson Center.