It’s okay if you have to sit down or pause to get over the shock of this. It will be alright; take your time. I know, breaking social norms can be quite terrifying and exhausting. Okay, ready? Here it is: in 2017, thousands of women are members of fraternities. That wasn’t too horrific, right? There are no monsters chasing after you. How, you’re probably wondering? All will be explained in a matter of minutes. Here’s some things that women in fraternities wish you knew.
Yes, we still call it a fraternity
There are a myriad of Greek organizations that are co-ed. This can include academic frats, networking frats, service frats, and pre-occupational frats, among so many other things. Personally, I am involved in a co-ed service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. APO doesn’t mystically become a sorority for its female members. For us, we originally were a male-only organization, founded in 1925 at Lafayette College. Women were granted full membership in 1976 after a vote at National Convention.
As an interesting note, some all-female Greek life organizations are also referred to as fraternities, such as Phi Mu.
Refer to us as brothers, please and thank you
While some fraternities will refer to their female members as sisters or siblings, many use the term “brother” regardless of the member’s gender. Nationally, Alpha Phi Omega uses this term. It is a sign of respect for the women of the organization to be seen as equal to the men. Local chapters can choose to use other terms if they wish, but Pitt’s chapter—Beta—sticks with the nationally recognized term. Many women take pride in being called a brother, as women fought for the right to receive this title.
Hazing isn’t an issue
While hazing is certainly a huge problem in much of Greek Life, co-ed fraternities often have a strict policy against it. This is because a lot of them are not social fraternities. Alpha Phi Omega has national rules against the hazing of rushes and pledges. This is something that encouraged me to join the organization and that I believe reflects its character.
We are just as close to our brothers—if not closer
Some may think that having guys and girls in the same Greek organization can make things awkward or uncomfortable. Actually, it’s the exact opposite! Pitt’s chapter is mainly comprised of women, but there is no great divide between our male and female members. Brothers are friends outside of official functions and commonly hang out and study together throughout the week. Being co-ed, brothers are not limited to which friends they encourage to join the chapter. In fact, two of my closest friends that I convinced to join are guys.
We function similarly to other fraternities and sororities
Traditions obviously vary from organization to organization, but they are largely the same. For APO, we still have all of the classical Greek traditions such as rush week, pledging and bigs and littles. Bigs and littles are paired based on personality, meaning that your big could be either male or female.
Being a service fraternity means service!
As I mentioned before, Alpha Phi Omega is a service fraternity, as our motto tells: Be a Leader, Be a Friend, Be of Service. This lends us to complete over 10,000 hours of community service annually as a chapter.
Interested in rushing Alpha Phi Omega? We have a mandatory meeting on Thursday, September 14 at 9PM in L9 Clapp Hall. While we are the largest collegiate fraternity—with 350 chapters in the US, 25,000 active members, and 400,000 alumni—we are forever growing and would love for you to join us!