Fraternity parties seem like crazy “ragers” that everyone can show up to in movies, but there are actually rules and standards that vary in universities across the country. For example, depending on the semester, some fraternities schedule mixers with sororities on particular days. While it’s not entirely restricted, it’s not necessarily recommended either to invade parties where you aren’t technically invited. This can be especially difficult for those who like fraternity parties but aren’t in a sorority to have immediate access. Here’s how you can navigate fraternity parties as an unaffiliated member.
1. Show up with a few girls
If you show up to frat parties with two or three girlfriends, it may help your likelihood of getting in if ratios are important to your frats. For example, Lehigh University is a predominantly male school, so fraternities take extra effort to make sure that there are two or three girls for every guy. That way, there aren’t a flock of boys and only a few girls dancing, which can be a little intimidating.
By the same token, showing up with ten of your girlfriends is not necessarily a guaranteed invite inside a party either. Massive crowds can certainly hinder your chances of being invited inside the frat house because, again, it throws off the important ratio they’re trying to maintain. If you do have a big group of friends that want to go to the same party, it’s a good idea to stagger into the party a few at a time. It's also important to be kind and considerate to the "guy on door" or the guy guarding the door. He's probably been standing there all night, and it would be best if you treated him with respect. This will also increase your chances of getting into the party.
2. Go to "open" parties
This is a big difference from school to school. At many universities, there are dedicated weeks for everyone to go to such as “Welcome Week," “Sylly Week” (syllabus week) or Halloween. Again, this differs from school to school, but if you’re not affiliated, these weeks are usually the easiest to get into parties. The most you'd have to do is possibly pay an entrance fee either at the door or to the person giving you a ride to the party. Again, this depends on the school. Hannah, a sophomore from the University of Michigan, says, “During Welcome week and Sylly week, the frats have open parties, which anyone can go to. You can usually find out about those from their Facebook events.” Like Hannah says, Facebook is a great way to stay in the loop for Greek events! If you dress up for the theme and get excited, it's hard to turn people away who want to have fun.
3. Go to parties later in the night
At Lehigh University, most people are welcome to parties at midnight. Parties here usually start at 11 pm, which gives the scheduled fraternity and sorority a chance to mingle for the hour before everyone else can enter. These rules aren’t usually strict or exclusive, but simply general guidelines for the university. However, at other schools, if a party is closed to only a certain fraternity and a certain sorority, often no one else is allowed to go at all for the entire night. At the College of New Jersey, Sarah* says, “Closed parties are usually closed the entire night, unfortunately. That’s just the way things are here.” For schools like TCNJ, open parties seem to be rare and spread out throughout the entire semester. Some schools also require an entrance fee, and as long as you pay it you're welcome to go. To party at schools like TCNJ being a nonaffiliated member, you must pay a small entrance fee and hop in a ride to get there.
4. Attend the party with a friend that's in Greek life
If you tag along with your sorority friend, you may be allowed to attend the party they have scheduled that night. Fraternities won’t be able to notice that you’re not affiliated, and it’s not a huge deal that one nonaffiliated person attends. For some sororities, there are no additional requirements for bringing a friend along to a party; but for others, you need to let a council member or party planner know you’re bringing a friend.
Jessica, a junior from Lehigh University, says, "I'm not in Greek life but if I want to go out, I just go with my friends in Greek life that has a scheduled party. It's not that difficult at my school so I'm not sure how it would work on other campuses, but it's pretty easy as long as I stay with my friends."
5. Get to know the brothers of the fraternities
You’re more likely to get into a frat party if you know the guy guarding the front door. It may seem like common sense, but becoming friends with the people hosting the party almost guarantees your chances of being invited back. Again, some universities may strictly uphold their “closed” parties rule, but try to gauge your school to see if the rules are lenient. More often than not, having one additional person is not a big deal—the more the merrier.
6. Get a text if you want to go through formal recruitment
This situation applies to freshman and sophomore students that haven't yet gone through formal recruitment. If you're planning on rushing and joining a Greek chapter, the way you facilitate going to parties is going to be a little different than if you are a GDI. If you're a nonaffiliated member hoping to join a sorority and fraternity, that means you're considered a Potential New Member (PNM). The best way to ensure your entry into a party, especially for males, is to get a Rush Text from a current Greek member. The text is your invitation for the night and shows that you're a welcomed member. This period of informal rushing is usually for a semester.
This closed party mindset may sound elitist or exclusive, but it's mainly due to how fraternities and sororities organize and plan these parties months in advance. The chapters want to specifically mingle with certain other chapters and get to know the current and new members. At schools where entrance party fees are not necessary, the costs of alcohol and other party-related supplies are paid for by fraternity member dues. From Greek members' perspectives, the costs of parties are high and it would not be wise to allow any and everyone to come in and potentially drink all the alcohol and trash the place. The general number of people attending is also important since much off-campus housing has strict fire codes that restrict the maximum occupancy for fire hazards. If the police authority is called, it's a huge liability for a fraternity chapter to have an overcapacity house of drunk college students. Hopefully, with the tips above, you'll be able to navigate frat parties and have fun even if you aren’t in a sorority. As a current sorority member, I can see how parties may seem super exclusive, but Greek societies really do want to become more inclusive so people can meet future members and make even more connections.