Although the process of getting to know a fraternity and eventually making the decision to join one is an informal one, there are several tips that every potential member should be aware of.
Getting to know the fraternities
- Potential new members should make an effort to get to know members from every fraternity organization and learn about each organization’s principles, membership benefits, and obligations.
- Joining a fraternity is about first building friendships with members. As the friendships develop, you will learn about the fraternity and they will learn about you.
- Although some fraternities may be very outgoing, it is also your responsibility to initiate some contact. Don’t count on each organization to approach you. Invite yourself and your friends to advertised fraternity events on campus, or introduce yourself to a fraternity member you see in a class, in the cafeteria, or in another student organization.
- As you get to know fraternity members better, you can ask them about why they joined their organizations. Ask them what they get out of it and why they stay involved. Don’t be afraid to inquire about each organization’s priniciples, values, and codes of conduct. (If someone says, “I can’t tell you, that’s a secret,” then ask them to explain what it means to them in their own words. Their answer will tell you a lot about the organization.)
Joining a fraternity
- Although one fraternity may offer you membership first (this is called “giving a bid”), you should be aware that other fraternities might also be interested. You do not have to respond right away to a bid. Ask for time to consider the bid and then, if you are considering other fraternities, approach your friends in the other organization to let them know you are open to considering additional bids.
- If you have been offered a bid, or multiple bids, consider your choices carefully. How will you benefit from membership? What are my responsibilities if I accept? Can you afford it? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Remember that you have no obligation to accept any bid. (No fraternity should use high-pressure tactics. If they do, it’s probably a warning sign.)
- If you need more time to consider bids, be up front about this with the organizations who have invited you to join. Ask additional questions if needed.
- When you accept a bid, you will either join as a “new member” (also called a pledge, candidate, probationary member, or novice) or you will be directly “initiated” as a full member. Generally, once you have been initiated, you cannot ever join another general men’s fraternity. However, if you are only “pledged” and then leave the organization, you may still be able to join another fraternity.