Recognition Policy for Fraternities and Sororities

This policy constitutes the University procedure for the conferral or withdrawal of recognition of fraternities and sororities.  It applies to all social fraternities and sororities, whether residential or non-residential.  This Recognition Policy may be amended or rescinded or superseded at any time by action of the Board of Trustees.  Benefits and privileges extended to recognized fraternities and sororities under this, or any other University policy, are subject to the availability of University resources for the purposes specified and do not constitute entitlements.


Recognition is the formal process by which Cornell determines whether a social fraternity or sorority (residential or non-residential, occupying property owned by Cornell or not, located on or off campus) may avail itself of certain privileges within the gift of the University.  Once recognized, a fraternity or sorority may enroll members from the student body, in accordance with Trustee legislation.  It may identify its charter with Cornell and be eligible for the benefits described herein and the privileges accorded to other recognized student organizations.

Recognition serves only the limited purposes described herein and is not intended in any way to alter the legal relationship between Cornell and the fraternity or sorority.  Each fraternity or sorority is, and remains, an independent legal entity responsible for its own actions and for meeting its own legal duties and obligations. It is understood that Cornell does not, by this action, assume any legal responsibility for the supervision or control of fraternity or sorority activities, but reserves the right to withdraw the privileges conferred by this Policy and to take such other actions as may be lawful and appropriate.  Recognition pursuant to this policy does not constitute an endorsement by Cornell of a particular fraternal organization or its activities.


Fraternal organizations eligible for recognition under this policy shall have the following characteristics:

1. Chapters shall be legal entities separate from Cornell.

2. They shall be entitled to be subjectively selective in their membership within the limits of the University's non-discrimination policies.

3. Single sex fraternal organizations shall be entitled to single sex membership consistent with regulations promulgated pursuant to Title IX of the U.S. Education Act Amendments of 1972 and such other laws or regulations as may apply.


Recognition may be conferred, modified or withdrawn by the President or his designee consistent with the provisions of this policy.


A fraternity or sorority initially may be granted either Full Recognition or Provisional Recognition.

1. Full Recognition:

Full Recognition signifies that the fraternity or sorority is eligible for the Benefits of Full Recognition, as described below.

2. Provisional Recognition

Provisional Recognition constitutes a conditional recognition for a specified period, not longer than one calendar year, during which the chapter will be eligible for the Benefits of Full Recognition under this policy.

 Provisional Recognition may be granted at the President's or his designee's discretion during the period of initial implementation of this Policy, establishment of a new sorority or fraternity chapter or the re-establishment of a formerly active Cornell chapter, provided that the group signs a statement of intent to comply with the Criteria for Full Recognition at the end of the provisional period.

Provisional Recognition expires at the end of the specified period, unless renewed or extended by the President or his designee.


Each fraternity or sorority seeking Full Recognition must demonstrate upon application to the President or his designee, pursuant to procedures established by that office, compliance with the following criteria:

1. Articulation of common goals and standards by the University and chapter.

2. Registration as a student organization.

3. Maintenance of certain materials on file in the appropriate University office:

  a. Statement of Purpose - Principles (updated);

  b. Bylaws and Constitution (confidential - updated);

  c. Annual Statement of Compliance with the University non-discrimination policies and entitlement of single sex membership pursuant to B(3) above, and certification of membership selection    based upon a principle of inclusion rather than exclusion;

  d. Current information on the size of the chapter, membership statistics and names of officers;

  e. Annual report of activities;

  f. Annual financial report (confidential);

  g. An acceptable set of rules of conduct by the national organization.  These rules of conduct should include sanctions to be used by the national when the rules are violated.  The President or his designee shall determine whether the rules are acceptable.

4. Collective responsibility for the behavior of the members when in their chapter house or when acting as a group outside of the chapter house.

5. Operation within the guidelines of the appropriate council.

6. Active participation in council-sponsored programs.

7. Compliance with generally accepted standards of neighborliness, including exterior neatness of the premises, the avoidance of unreasonable noise levels and compliance with related local laws.

8. Membership shall be comprised of Cornell graduate and/or undergraduate students and is subject to all provisions of this recognition policy.  Local fraternities and sororities whose membership is drawn from more than Cornell may fall within this policy.  In order to be considered for recognition, the local group must have national sponsorship or be approved by the President or his or her designee.  Moreover, only the membership drawn from Cornell will be recognized as the official fraternity and sorority chapter; participants from outside the University will be considered "guests" of the fraternity or sorority.  The president of the local group must be a Cornell student.

9. An advisor(s) who serves as a genuine and continuing resource to the chapter.

10. Fraternities or sororities occupying facilities not owned by the University shall certify to the University that there exists a house corporation (which shall sign such certification) which has assumed full responsibility for the physical condition of the facility and compliance with all applicable local codes, regulations and standards for issuance of a Certificate of Compliance.  In addition, an officer of the house corporation and the chapter president shall certify that an annual safety inspection has been performed by an organization or person satisfactory to the University and that all violations have been corrected or are in the process of being corrected.  Local authority having jurisdiction:  Ithaca Fire Department; Village of Cayuga Heights Fire Department and Building Commissioner.

11. Fraternities or sororities occupying University owned facilities shall maintain such premises in condition satisfactory to the University and in compliance in all respects with the terms of the occupancy agreement.

12. Compliance with the terms of all contractual agreements with the University.

13. Compliance with all applicable University policies, rules and regulations.

14. Cooperation in University investigations concerning compliance with any University policy, rule or regulation.

15. Maintain commercial general liability insurance in the minimum amount of $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) of primary liability coverage (each occurrence), with general aggregate coverage of at least $2,000,000.00 (total).  Such liability insurance shall include Cornell University, its officers, employees and agents, as an additional named insured and shall be written with an insurance carrier acceptable to the University.  A certificate of such insurance shall be forwarded to the University as evidence of such coverage, and the University must receive notice of any change, cancellation, or renewal of the policy.  The insurance shall be considered primary over any and all collectable insurance that the University may have available.

16. (a.) Shall have a central station fire alarm system throughout the house. It shall be tested and maintained per sections 901 and 907.20 of the Fire Code of New York State. It shall enunciate to an authorized monitoring service (i.e., Cornell EII&S, Time Warner Security, ADT, etc.) The service must monitor alarms on a 24-hour basis, and respond to any alarm. Also, new or significantly altered systems shall be installed according to section 907 of the Fire Code of New York State.

(b.) Shall have a full, automatic, fire sprinkler system. It shall be tested and maintained per section 901 of the Fire Code of New York State and shall be connected to the house central station fire alarm system. Also, new or significantly altered systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with section 903.3 of the Fire Code of New York State. Repairs to the fire alarm and sprinkler systems must be made to restore the operating system as soon as possible after problem is identified; a copy of all certifications, inspection reports, and verification of repairs must be sent to the Office of Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living.

17.  (a.) Shall refrain from using, furnishing, or having alcohol and other drugs present during the recruitment, education, initiation, or intake of new members.

 (b.) Will not implement or tolerate hazing, as defined by the Campus Code of Conduct, in any form, at any time.

 (c.) Shall comply with the initiation deadline determined by the University each semester.

18. Cooperation with Emergency Responders

 (a) A representative of a fraternity or sorority is expected to promptly call for medical assistance by dialing 911 in the event of an alcohol and/or drug related emergency or any other emergency situation pertaining to the health and safety of members or guests.

 (b) Fraternities and sororities shall fully cooperate with emergency personnel responding to calls for medical assistance in order to ensure members and guests receive immediate medical assistance in the event of an alcohol and/or drug related emergency or any other emergency situation. Obstruction of emergency responders will not be tolerated.


Upon Full Recognition a sorority or fraternity is eligible for the following privileges and benefits:

1. Identification of the chapter with Cornell and use of the University's name along with, but not in place of, identification with the sponsoring body.

2. Eligibility for participation in the University's organization(s) related to the self-governance of the Greek system at Cornell.

3. Participation in a University memberships solicitation programs or separate membership solicitation program, as articulated and monitored by the self-governance organization of the Greek system within the terms of University policies.

4. Participation in the educational, social and athletic programs and activities of the University which are provided for fraternal organizations.

5. Access to and use of University facilities for official functions as approved by the University offices under whose jurisdiction utilization of a particular University facility is regulated and controlled.


Chapters are required to continue to meet the Criteria for Full Recognition each year to remain recognized and in good standing.


1. When in the judgment of the President or his designee a chapter no longer meets the Criteria for Full Recognition, or during a period of Provisional Recognition, no longer is making satisfactory progress toward Full Recognition, Full or Provisional Recognition may be withdrawn, or the chapter may be placed on Probationary Recognition status.

Probationary Recognition may include, in the discretion of the President or his designee, the temporary withdrawal of any or all of the Benefits of Full Recognition or the application of such other specific sanctions or limitations as may be deemed appropriate.

In the event the chapter is not in compliance with the Criteria for Full Recognition upon expiration of the period of Probationary Recognition, the procedures for Withdrawal of Recognition will be initiated.

Upon demonstration to the satisfaction of the President or his designee that the chapter is once again in compliance with the Criteria for Full Recognition, the chapter may be restored to Full Recognition status.

2. No decision to withdraw chapter recognition or place a chapter on probation will be taken except upon prior written notice to the chapter of the reasons for such action and after permitting the chapter an opportunity to respond to the notice. The decision of the President or his designee in such matter shall be final.


1. It is understood that fraternities and sororities shall not use the name of the University for any purpose other than chapter identification as described at F(1) above. Any further use of the University's name shall require the prior approval of the President or his designee.

2. In no event shall any fraternity or sorority use the University's name or tax identification number or hold itself out in such manner as to suggest that it is synonymous with, or authorized to act on behalf of, Cornell or that its actions are in any way approved, sponsored or endorsed by Cornell. Violation of this section may result in withdrawal of recognition pursuant to paragraph H above.

3. The President or his designee may adopt additional standards, operating principles and procedures not inconsistent herewith, as deemed necessary or appropriate to facilitate the implementation of this Recognition Policy.

BOT approved 1/24/97
AMENDED 5/23/09
AMENDED 10/29/10
AMENDED 3/10/14
AMENDED 5/22/15