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San Diego State University

Greek Life

Greek 101

Greek Glossary 

Certain terms may be used more by CPA, IFC, NPHC or USFC members than others.

Advisor
Alumnus member who serves as a resource to chapters and act as a liaison between alums and collegiate members.
Alumni/Alumnae
Initiated member of a fraternity/sorority who has graduated from college
Alumnus (male)
Alumni (men)
Alumna (female)
Alumnae (women) 
Alum (abbreviation) 
Badge/Pin
Given and wore over the heart at all official functions with at least business attire by initiated members of the organization.
Bid
A formal invitation to join a particular IFC fraternity/CPA sorority extended by a chapter.
Bid Day
The last day of recruitment in which new members receive bids to join a particular IFC fraternity/CPA sorority.
Big/Little (Lil’)
Terms used for mentors assigned between new members and actives/prophytes. The active members/prophytes are typically charged with guiding new members through their new member period and initiation.
Call
A yell used mostly by NPHC organizations (although some NIC, NPC and local orgs have calls as well) to promote pride in their organization and greet brothers/sisters. Non-members are not permitted to use another organization’s call.
Chapter
A small group of a larger organization, regional or Inter/National headquarters, typically designated by a specific Greek name established at a University or college.
Collegian/Collegiate
An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority currently in college.
Dry
Term typically referring to a place that is designated as “alcohol-free” including a fraternity which does not permit alcohol on their chapter house premises and may not allow the organization to host a party involving alcohol. Fraternities can be dry at the Inter/National level or chapter level. Sororities each have different levels of “dry”. For example, one may allow the sorority to attend a function hosted by a non-dry fraternity, while another sorority may not. 
Dues
Monetary cost of membership in a fraternity/sorority; fees are used to cover the costs of operation, formal events, social activities, and other events, depending on the organization.
Expansion/Extension
Process of an organization beginning a new chapter of the organization at a college or university.
Greek
Applied to students who are members affiliated with Greek organizations.
HQ/Headquarters
The central office of the Regional/Inter/National Greek organization of a particular fraternity/sorority. These offices are responsible for making policies for the organization that are meant to be implemented through all of its collegiate chapters. It is most accurate to use the term “headquarters” as opposed to “nationals” as many organizations are international with chapters in the U.S.A. and Canada.
House Director
A person hired to live in the chapter house. Responsibilities vary per chapter.
Informational
A meeting held by a chapter for prospective members who are seeking general information about the organization.
Intake
The membership selection process for historically African-American sororities and fraternities.
Initiate
An undergraduate who has been initiated into life-long membership.
Initiation Ceremony/Crossing
A process during which new members receive lifelong membership privileges into the organization they have chosen to be a part of. This is typically and formal, ceremonial type event where active member of the group are also present. Events are private and different for all organizations. Culturally-based and NPHC organizations use the term “crossing”. Chapters initiate/cross members at various times.
Legacy
A potential new member who is the son/daughter/brother/sister of an active/alum member of the organization. Each organization has its own definition of a “legacy” and some organizations also include grandchildren or step children. Some organizations also dictate that a “legacy” potential new member is invited to attend the next round of formal Panhellenic recruitment. However, legacies are not guaranteed a bid from the organization they are a legacy to, nor are they required to select the organization as one of their choices during the recruitment process. An in-house legacy is potential new member who has a sibling who is currently a collegian in the organization.
Line Brothers/Sisters (LBs/LSs)
Individuals who are members of the same intake class.
Membership Intake Chair
Overseer of the membership intake process.
Neophyte (Neo)
The newest members of an organization; typically designated as such until another intake process occurs.
New Member/Associates
Student who has accepted the bid or invitation for membership of a Greek organization but has not yet been initiated/crossed.
NIC
Stands for North American Interfraternity Conference and is the national governing body of SDSU’s IFC community.
NPC
stands for National Panhellenic Conference and is the national governing body of SDSU’s CPA community.
NPHC
Stands for National Pan-Hellenic Council, governs member organizations of the NPHC chapters at SDSU.
Parallels (Ls)
Term used to identify members who become members at the same time. Typically used by culturally-based organizations (NPHC / USFC).
Pari
Term short for "paraphenalia" used to refer to hats, shirts, jerseys, etc. that contain the organizations letters, colors, logos, crests, etc. Typically used by culturally-based organizations (NPHC / USFC).
Philanthropy
Refers to either a community service and/or fundraising project sponsored by a chapter or the non-profit organization in which an organization has specified as it’s official “philanthropy” signifying a special relationship and desire to give (time/money) to the organization, sometimes officially named by the inter/national organization.
Probate/Coming Out
A show used to introduce new members of the organization.
Prophytes
A show used to refer to older members of the organization. Typically used by culturally-based organizations (particularly NPHC).
Prospective/Potential New Member
A college student not affiliated with a fraternity/sorority who is eligible and shows interest in joining by attending recruitment/intake activities. The term is often abbreviated to PNM. 
Recruitment
Organized effort to meet potential new members to join a chapter.
Recruitment Counselor (Rho Chi)
Active SDSU sorority member who serves on the CPA side of recruitment in order to guide Potential New Members during the process of formal recruitment.
Ritual
A secret ceremony of a Greek organization performed by active fraternity/sorority members that is prescribed and endorsed by the chapters’ headquarters. The document containing the rituals and elements therein are sacred to each fraternity/sorority. Only initiated members may be privy to rituals.
S.Y.AND S.
Term "sands" used to identify someone that joins a culturally-based organization the same semester. Typically used by members of culturally-based sorority/fraternity (NPHC / USFC).
Soror/Frat
Term used to identify members of the same sorority/fraternity.
Special/Spesh
A mentoring relationship between a new member and an established chapter member generally selected while the new member is going through the intake process.
Step
A series of complex, synchronous, and precise rhythmic body movements performed to the tune of stomps, songs, or chants created by organization members. A Step Show hosts all members of NPHC chapters from anywhere doing step/stroll.
Yard
All members of NPHC chapters at the University. A Yard Show hosts only members of NPHC chapters at the University doing step/stroll.

Greek Alphabet

graphic showing the Greek alphabet

Guidebook

Get a ton of information about the SDSU Greek community in one place!

The Go Greek! Guidebook is a great resource to SDSU students and parents looking to learn more about SDSU Greek Life! Contents include:

  • Welcome to SDSU p.2
  • Student Life & Leadership p. 4
  • Greek Accreditation p. 4
  • Hazing Policy p. 5
  • Why Go Greek p. 6
  • Fraternity/Sorority Councils p. 7
  • CPA Chapters p. 8
  • IFC Chapters p. 12
  • NPHC Chapters p. 19
  • USFC Chapters pg. 21
  • How to Join p. 30
  • Greek Alphabet p. 37
  • Greek Glossary p. 38

Go Greek Guidebook cover

For PDF files, download Adobe Acrobat Reader if needed.