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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Mental Health Resources at Stanford

Glossary of Terms

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This is a list of commons terms that you might hear or see associated with social fraternities or sororities. Terms can be council-specific or more broadly applicable to both fraternities and/or sororities.

Term Definition


An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority who is in good standing with their chapter.

Alumna/Alumnae (feminine)

A initiated sorority member who is no longer an undergraduate member of a collegiate chapter.

Alumnus/Alumni (masculine)

An initiated member of a fraternity who is no longer an undergraduate member of a collegiate chapter.


A formal invitation to join a sorority or fraternity. It is also a formal invitation to be a potential/prospective new member for a cultural-based organization or an NPHC organization.

Bid Day

The last day of recruitment when potential new members receive invitations (bids) to join a chapter.

Big Brother or Sister

Nickname for an initiated member assigned to mentor a new member.


An active or alumni member of a fraternity.


The common term for the bond between members of the same fraternity.


An established membership unit of an inter/national fraternity or sorority.


The official document drafted by an Inter/National fraternity or sorority that allows for the creation of a local chapter that is affiliated with a college or university campus.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB)

An opportunity for chapters that do not reach quota during primary recruitment to bid to quota and/or for chapters that are not at total to bid to total. The COB process is not structured by council, and only chapters with available spaces in quota/total are eligible to participate in COB.


A new member who withdraws from an organization after accepting a bid, but before initiation.


A Greek-letter sisterhood or brotherhood.

Informal/Open Recruitment

The unstructured recruitment process by which fraternities and sororities get members throughout the academic year.


A meeting to provide membership information to prospective members. Also referred to as an interest meeting.


A ritual ceremony that brings new members into full membership of a sorority including its lifelong benefits. Through initiation, members learn and pledge themselves to the ideals of the sorority and fraternity.

ISC Recruitment

A period of time during the academic year when events are held by each ISC sorority for the purpose of selecting new members. The primary recruitment period is organized and implemented by the Inter-Sorority Council.

ISC Recruitment Counselor (Rho Gamma)

A Panhellenic representative who is available to guide women through the recruitment process and answer questions.


While the term varies by organization, it is generally defined as an immediate family member of an initiated member, such as a sister/brother or daughter/son. Some Greek-letter organizations also recognize extended family members


The persons who were initiated together.

Line Brothers/Sisters

Refers to persons that were a part of the same initiation (membership intake process) at the same time and in the same chapter.

Membership Intake

The process of acquiring membership into an organization.

New Member

In reference to ISC and IFC, an individual who has accepted a fraternity or sorority bid but has not been initiated. In reference to AAFSA and some MGC organizations, a recently initiated chapter member.

New Member Class

A term used to name new members of an organization who all joined during the same quarter.

New Member Education Period

The period of time before initiation when new members learn about their fraternity or sorority.

New Member Introduction Show

After initiation, newly initiated members will participate in a new member introduction show to the campus to announce their membership in their organization. 


Fund-raising projects sponsored by fraternities or sororities supporting local and inter/national charitable organizations.

Potential New Member (PNM)

A person who is interested in joining a Greek-letter organization and will participate in recruitment or membership intake.


The process through which sororities and fraternities get new members.


Like philanthropy, many people believe that the term service is interchangeable with philanthropy. Service, however, refers to activities in which members of an organization physically volunteer their time to help members of the community.


A term used within sororities when referring to other members.


The common term for the bond between members of the same sorority.


Member(s) of the same sorority. Frequently used to refer to any sorority woman.


A Greek-letter sisterhood. Officially the term Sorority was not adopted until 1882, when Gamma Phi Beta coined the term, which means “sisterhood,” and became the first Greek-letter organization to identify themselves as such.

Stepping or Step-Dancing

A form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps.

Step Show

A display of coordinated group step, dance, singing, and chanting, having roots in African tribal traditions; various influences over the years from military practice and African American culture


When members of a particular Greek organization line up one after another. Similar to saluting, they begin to move forward in the same dance motions, or many times alternating dance moves.

*List adapted from the University of Alabama