For Parents

By joining a fraternity or sorority, your son and/or daughter is joining a well-established, close-knit community of intelligent, hard-working individuals involved in volunteering, leadership, and academia. Being a member of the fraternity or sorority community provides a strong support system, builds life-long friendships, and helps create a networking system of alums and students that will prove useful throughout life. Each sorority and fraternity provides a different sense of community that will make your son and/or daughter feel at home. We hope to provide you with all of the information you need concerning this important step in your son and/or daughter’s college experience.

Supporting son/daughter

When they are interested

  • Membership is quite popular among students. One-third of the student body is affiliated with a recognized fraternity or sorority.
  • Relationships developed within these organizations are meaningful and rewarding during college and after.
  • The fraternities and sororities focus their actions around six values they identified as core to the experience: scholarship, leadership, service, brotherhood/sisterhood, inclusion, and accountability.
  • The benefits of joining fraternity or sorority:
    • Community involvement and service: last year, the community donated more than $325,000 to philanthropic causes.
    • Academics are also important with the fraternity or sorority community. 
  • By joining a fraternity or sorority, he or she is joining hundreds of other new members in their search for a sense of community at the university. Students can feel overwhelmed in a new environment. Cornell allows students to take the first semester of their freshman year to adjust to our campus life before making the decision to “join a fraternity or sorority.”
  • For many parents, the fraternity or sorority community conjures up images of Animal House. That’s simply not the reality! There are many myths about the fraternity or sorority community, but the reality is that men and women in fraternities and sororities are committed to their academics, volunteer time in the community, develop and strengthen their leadership skills, and form a campus network with other fraternities or sororities.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to attend as many campus events as possible during the fall semester. Being involved is the best way to meet active fraternity or sorority members and learn about their chapters. Involvement in other student organizations is looked upon favorably during the membership selection process.

When they decide to join

  • Prospective students will go through a “New Member” orientation process, which cannot last longer than four weeks.
  • Students must attend “Delta Series” programs regarding courageous leadership and bystander intervention, sexual violence, and hazing.
  • Financial obligations differ among individual chapters, and are also influenced by whether you live in or out of a chapter house, should the organization have one. Additional new member dues, national dues and social dues may also be charged.
  • Students need support throughout the process of recruitment/intake and new member education. Be supportive and learn as much as you can about fraternity or sorority life by asking questions of your student as he or she meets members in fraternities and sororities.
  • Do not become too involved in the sorority and fraternity recruitment/intake process as this should be their decision. There will be plenty of activities and events for you to attend or even help plan (if you’re interested) once your student joins.
  • Too often, parents do not allow their students to “fight their own battles.” It helps the student mature and gain some assertiveness when allowed to call various offices if they have questions or concerns about their decision to join. Encourage them to take the lead, most groups are looking for leadership qualities in potential members.

When they are a member

  • Time commitment varies and is what you make of it. This is a question you should encourage your student to ask during the recruitment/interest process.
  • Being part of a fraternity or sorority is a commitment to higher standards. Our chapters take academic success seriously. As a result, each chapter works to provide academic support systems to each member, including academic plans to assist individuals who wish to improve or maintain their grades; academic incentives to encourage participation and good work; resources such as faculty office hours in the chapter facility; or by working with the Center for Academic Success.
  • Grade report breakdown for each fraternity or sorority chapter.
  • While being part of a campus group can be one of the most meaningful aspects of student life, hazing is taken seriously by Cornell and the student community. These activities, in any form, undermine the value of these experiences. Although hazing is not unique to Cornell, we believe that it is important to examine these practices explicitly in an attempt to overcome the secrecy that perpetuates them.
  • Cornell Hazing Definition & Policy according to the Cornell University Campus Code of Conduct (Article II.A.1.f)

    "To haze another person, regardless of the person's consent to participate. Hazing means an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group or organization, (1) could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment, (2) destroys or removes public or private property, (3) involves the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or the consumption of other substances to excess, or (4) violates any University policy."
  • Know Hazing When You See It - Hazing can take many forms, but typically involves some degree of physical risk or mental distress that can be disruptive, demeaning, or dangerous. Many times, alcohol and secrecy are part of the hazing. No matter what it looks like….it's never okay.
  • If you are aware of any form of hazing, report it right away. You can do so confidentially at hazing.cornell.edu.