We understand sending a child to college can be a challenging and stressful time in a parent's life. While at Binghamton University, your student will encounter many opportunities to become involved outside of their classroom experience. It is important that you, the parent, be educated about the enriching experience that your student can find by being involved in a fraternity or sorority at Binghamton.
What is being involved in a fraternity or sorority all about?
I know you have seen many interesting shows on television and read in the newspaper; the reality is, those particular situations are extreme cases of fraternity and sorority life and not at all representative of the norm. What the media does not tell you as a parent is that there are many life-long benefits to membership in fraternities and sororities. At universities like Binghamton, membership in a fraternity or sorority offers a home away from home and makes the university setting a smaller, friendlier community. Additionally, national research has shown that involvement in fraternities and sororities increases students' chances of graduating from college. As a lifelong member of a fraternity or sorority, students are offered the opportunity to develop as leaders, serve the local community and focus on academics (Binghamton University Fraternity and Sorority grades are consistently higher than non-members), as well as their careers, by connecting with faculty, staff and other students in addition to local alumni members, advisors and other Greek organizations.
My student is considering joining a fraternity or sorority; how should I advise them?
The first thing to know is that first-year college students are not eligible to join a fraternity or sorority at Binghamton. To be eligible, students must have completed 12 credit hours of collegiate work and have at least a 2.5 GPA. 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 student 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. Feel free to contact students who are currently involved and their parents and ask them about their experience. In most cases, both students and parents will speak candidly about their fraternity or sorority involvement.
In addition, it is important that you advise your student to join a university-recognized organization. Recognized organizations are overseen and held to the standards of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Unrecognized organizations might have been expelled from campus, do not uphold the same standards, often do not have liability insurance, and could jeopardize the health and safety of students. Binghamton University currently recognizes 55 fraternities and sororities, so there are plenty of options.
Below is a list of unrecognized organizations we have reason to believe may be operating in the Binghamton area:
- Alpha Pi Epsilon (APES)
- Chi Phi (ΧΦ)
- Delta Chi (Delta)
- Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) (K Sig)
- Pi Lambda Phi (ΠΛΦ) (Pi Lam)
- Tau Epsilon Phi (TEP)
- Omega Zeta (formerly Zeta Beta Tau, not associated with the new Zeta Beta Tau Colony)
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ) (SAE)
- Eta Zeta (Formerly Alpha Phi)
- Xi Xi Xi (Tri-Zi, Formerly Alpha Xi Delta, AZD)
As a parent, consider asking the following questions before your student joins a fraternity or sorority:
- What is expected of fraternity/sorority members?
- How will membership impact your student's academics?
- 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?
- What are the expenses 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?
- What is the time commitment?
What are the safety risks associated with membership in a fraternity or sorority?
It can be perceived that fraternity or sorority membership may compromise a student's safety and well-being. At Binghamton University, we are committed to having this not be 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 laws of New York, and are enforced by both Binghamton administrators and members of fraternities and sororities themselves. In addition, all organizations should have at least one advisor to assist and ensure that the chapter is promoting a safe environment for its members (both on and off campus.) Hazing is both against university policy as well as state law. Hazing is defined by the Binghamton University Student Code of Conduct as follows:
The term “hazing ” is defined as any action taken, or situation created, involving prospective or new members of a group, or as a condition of continued membership in a group (fraternity, sorority, team, club or other association or organization), which would be perceived by a reasonable person as likely to produce mental or physical harm, extreme or unusual stress, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.
No policy can be so precisely written as to address all possible situations. When this policy does not address a specific behavior, students, organizations, teams and groups are expected to conduct themselves and their activities in the spirit of this policy and with respect for the dignity and well-being of others. The definition of hazing applies whether or not the participants consent to such activity or perceive the behavior as voluntary. The determination of whether a particular activity constitutes hazing will depend upon the circumstances and context in which the activity is occurring. As a guiding principle, any activity required of new members that is not required of more senior members is likely to constitute hazing under this policy. Some examples of conduct that may constitute hazing when used to mistreat or humiliate the participant include the following:
- Consumption of alcohol
- Paddling in any form or any other physical brutality
- Creating excessive fatigue
- Degrading or humiliating games or activities
- Forced or excessive participation in physical activities
- Psychological shock or abuse
- Engaging in public stunts or buffoonery
- Inappropriate scavenger hunts or road trips
- Wearing of apparel or items likely to subject the wearer to embarrassment or ridicule
- Activities that would unreasonably interfere with a student’s other activities or obligations (academic, extracurricular, religious, family, etc.)
- Activities that violate University policy, federal, state or local law
- Any other activity devoid of legitimate educational value that subjects participants to humiliation
We encourage you to browse the rest of our site, where you can find information about chapter disciplinary status, academic performance, and awards and recognition. You can also find information about our governing councils and their student leaders.
If you still have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me, L.C. Coghill, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and I will be happy to discuss your concerns and answer your questions.