For Families

By joining a fraternity or sorority, your child or someone you care for, 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 dependant feel at home. We hope to provide you with all of the information you need concerning this important step in your child’s college experience.

Supporting a Child or Dependant

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 vitally important with the fraternity or sorority community. 
  • By joining a fraternity or sorority, they are 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 child 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 be expected to attend or engage in a “New Member Orientation” session provided by our Office. This session is meant to explain the intricacies of membership and more about what membership in an organization at Cornell requires. Please check the "Requirements" tab to see the details of each session.
  • Prosepective students will also be expected to attend "Intervene," a 60-90 minute training pertaining to By-Stander Intervention. These will be offered throughout each semester. Please check the "Requirements" tab to see the dates, times, and locations of each session.
  • Students must attend a "New Member Education" program regarding courageous leadership, inclusion, and communication. These will be hosted in the Spring semester and more details can be found in the "Requirements" tab.
  • Individual Chapters will also likely host some kind of New Member Education process. This process is specific to each organization and is an opportunity for students to become oriented to their new affiliation. This process is to last no more than 4 weeks. 
  • 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. Additionally, new member dues, national dues and social dues may also be charged depending on the organization
  • 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 they meet 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 and sorority chapter can be found in the Performance Report tab.
  • 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.