A Parent's Guide to Fraternities and Sororities
Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison! We are certain that you share in your son or daughter's excitement as they prepare to embark on their collegiate experience. The transition from high school to college can be a time of great anticipation, but can also include many questions and challenges. New students are often concerned about a number of issues: How do I make new friends and meet other students with similar interests? Will I be able to succeed academically? Where will I find opportunities to develop leadership skills? How can I prepare for my career? Will I feel like part of the campus community? As a parent, we imagine that you share some of these same concerns with your son or daughter.
As your son or daughter prepares to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they will find that there are numerous opportunities available to become involved in campus life, connect with other students, and build experiences that compliment their academic education. Fraternities and sororities can be an integral part of your son or daughter's college experience by supporting students as they make the transition to campus life, challenging students to become leaders within the community, and ultimately contributing to a meaningful and successful education.
By joining a fraternity or sorority, students belong to a smaller, more connected community within the campus, where they get to know other students on a personal level and can develop a support network of peers both socially and academically. This is an experience where students can learn what it means to be part of a community. The fraternity and sorority community works towards developing students in four principle areas: academics, leadership, service to community, and social development. We commonly refer to development in these areas within the Greek Community as the four pillars of our community, or the four "ships": Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, and Fellowship.
Academics are a priority in fraternities and sororities. All organizations have academic requirements that students must meet in order to join the organization, as well as maintain a strong academic record in order to belong to the chapter. Academic programs include incentives and recognition for individual academic achievement, building connections with university faculty and staff, study support and tutoring programs, as well as specific support for academic major fields of study.
Students have tremendous opportunities to develop leadership skills through participating in different workshops and programs, planning and implementing projects and events, and holding an elected officer position within the organization. The majority of fraternity and sorority members hold leadership positions in other student organizations across campus as well, including the Associated Students of Madison (student government), the Homecoming Committee, and the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board. Members also work closely with alumni in getting involved with local and state community issues as well as political campaigns.
Over the past year, fraternity and sorority members donated over 10,000 hours of service to the community, and raised over $90,000 for local and national charities. Through involvement in service programs, members develop organizational skills, increase their understanding of civic responsibility, and expand their perspectives of our global society. Fraternity and sorority members here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison take great pride in the service that they provide to the larger community, and most students say that these experiences are among the most rewarding that they have participated in during their college career.
As you can see, fraternity or sorority membership can be an incredible experience for students looking to make the most of their college career. But when it comes down to the practical concerns of new students starting college, their first and foremost interest is making new friends. Fraternities and sororities are social organizations, and are an ideal environment for connecting with new people. Organizations plan a number of events each semester for social purposes where students can come together for fun and fellowship.
As you might be aware, alcohol issues are a major concern on college campuses, and this issue has dominated national headlines over the past couple of years. Fraternity and sorority social events can include alcohol beverage service for students who are of legal drinking age. All organizations have extensive alcohol policies which regulate the service of alcohol at social events in order to ensure the safety of members and guests. In addition, the majority of social events are held at licensed establishments, such as a restaurant or tavern, where additional supervision is enforced. Sorority houses have always prohibited alcohol in their facilities, and a growing number of fraternities are instituting similar policies.
Another concern that students and parents often share involves hazing activities in fraternities and sororities. Hazing constitutes an activity that is designed or intended to humiliate or embarrass a student during the process of joining an organization. Hazing practices are a criminal violation of Wisconsin state law, and strictly prohibited by campus and organizational policies as well. New members joining an organization will participate in a number of different activities designed to build teamwork, learn more about themselves and others in the group, as well as learn the traditions and history of the organization. These activities are intended to be beneficial to the student as well as the organization. Instances which can be construed as hazing are not tolerated within this community. It is our goal to provide the best possible experiences for fraternity and sorority members on campus.
We hope that your son or daughter is interested in taking a closer look at all of the opportunities that fraternity and sorority membership have to offer. As parents, we hope that you will continue to take an active interest in the new and exciting adventure that your son or daughter is preparing to begin. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact the UW Parent Program via e-mail: email@example.com or call the toll-free hotline at 1-877-262-3977.
Thank you for encouraging your son or daughter to get involved as a part of their continued education! On Wisconsin!
Assistant Director of Involvement