Congratulations on successfully transitioning your student to James Madison University! As your student begins to explore campus involvement at JMU, we are excited that they are considering membership in a fraternity or sorority. JMU boasts a vibrant and dynamic fraternity/sorority community, with over 4,000 students in 31 organizations, totaling 20% of the student population. Whether you’re a member of a Greek-lettered organization yourself or are just looking for information to help your student make a decision about joining, we are dedicated to assisting you in this process.
Friends and Family Often Ask…
A fraternity or sorority is a group of men or women who have come together for the purpose of bettering themselves and their communities. Each of these values-based organization focuses on:
- Academic Achievement: each organization emphasizes scholastic success among its members and requires a certain grade point average to maintain Good Standing in the chapter. The organization also seeks to connect members to academic resources on campus.
- Citizenship and Social Responsibility: chapters focus on cultivating productive citizens with meaningful relationships across the University and the city of Harrisonburg.
- Member Development: these organizations provide and connect members to a variety of educational opportunities at JMU and within their organizations.
- Philanthropy and Service: every organization has at least one charity or cause that it supports through fundraising and service. While the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life encourages every fraternity and sorority member to earn at least five hours of service per semester, many individual organizations have higher requirements.
Any undergraduate student currently enrolled full-time (12 credits) at JMU is eligible to join a fraternity or sorority. There are additional organization-specific requirements that a student may be required to meet in order to be considered a candidate for membership. While many students do join in their first semester at JMU, there are opportunities to join an organization after their first semester here. For more information about council specific recruitment processes, please visit the council recruitment pages.
The benefits of membership in a fraternity or sorority are many, and each member enjoys their experience for different reasons. Perhaps the most common and widely-experienced benefit is the large community and support system that members become a part of upon joining. Students who join fraternities and sororities are joining organizations made up of members with a variety of interests, and membership fosters deep connections among students who may not otherwise have met. Because of the leadership education and support members receive, they are encouraged to join other organizations on campus. In fact, most fraternities and sororities require members to be involved in at least one other organization. Also, most fraternities and sororities were born out of academic circles, and the commitment to scholarly excellence thrives today. Our organizations routinely best the non-affiliated all-male/female grade-point averages, and they are more likely to participate in community service than non-affiliated students. Last but certainly not least, members are connected with thousands of living alumni who provide opportunities for networking both before and after graduation.
As is the case with many organizations on campus, there is a monetary commitment to joining a fraternity or sorority. Dues vary based on the organization, so we suggest that you encourage your student to inquire about membership dues during the recruitment process. Dues help the chapter provide a variety of opportunities and resources for members ranging from:
- A chapter facility for use of all members
- Attendance to conferences and leadership development on the local, regional, and national levels
- Participation in campus activities
- Social functions within and outside the organization
Joining a fraternity or sorority is the equivalent of adding another class to the course load. In general, new members can expect: regular meetings with their new member classes to learn about the history of the organization and how it currently operates, regular meetings with the chapter at large, study sessions, opportunities to participate in philanthropic events, and brotherhood/sisterhood dates with other members of the organization. The new member process lasts up to 8 weeks, but varies by organization. Once a member has been initiated, the time commitment may increase if the student chooses to take on a leadership role within the organization.
There are opportunities for members in many of our organizations to live in facilities with other members of their organization. Many organizations have a requirement that members live in the chapter facility the year after joining unless it is already filled for the upcoming year. Also, some chapters require specific officers to live in the chapter facility so that they are easily accessible to all chapter members. 13 of our sororities and 2 of our fraternities have on-campus houses that are supervised by a house manager who is a member of the organization trained by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Residence Life in a fashion similar to that of a Resident Assistant. Rates for living in on-campus fraternity or sorority housing are similar to other residence halls at JMU. During the recruitment process, we encourage you to tell your student to ask about any housing requirements that organizations may have.
In today’s world, fraternities and sororities are committed to social responsibility and to providing safe, affirming opportunities for members to develop into better people. The Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, in conjunction with member organizations, has developed a comprehensive list of expectations and policies that govern everything from social events to new member education. Fraternities and sororities are also expected to abide by James Madison University policy as well as the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. JMU has a no-tolerance policy for hazing and follows up on all reports of inappropriate activity by its organizations. If you would like to report concerning behavior, please contact the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fraternities and sororities are self-governing and have structures in place that include elected chapter officers, and appointed local and regional volunteers who are generally alumni of the same organization. Additionally, the inter/national organization provides oversight for its chapter at JMU. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life staff support these organizations and their governing councils by providing advisement to all council officers and chapter officers, collaborating with advisors and headquarters staff, and assisting in the navigation of applicable University policies and procedures.
In addition to the advisement of the organizations in our community, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life staff is also responsible for:
- Advocating for the fraternity/sorority experience on campus
- Adjudicating organizational misconduct
- Co-managing on-campus housing with the Office of Residence Life
- Promoting cultures of academic achievement, citizenship, social responsibility, philanthropy, and service
- Providing and connecting students to leadership development and educational opportunities
- Overseeing recruitment activities for all organizations
- Tracking academic performance, behavior and conduct trends, recruitment statistics and member retention
- Assist your student in identifying recognized fraternities and sororities for which to pursue membership. We have a few unrecognized organizations that operate at JMU and want to ensure that incoming students and their families have information about those groups. For more information about Unrecognized Organizations, click here.
- Allow the student to take ownership in their recruitment experience; encourage them to seek out the answers to their questions or concerns
- Encourage your student to utilize our website, the chapter website, and national website for each organization to gain a better understanding of each group
- Discuss the financial obligations of fraternity or sorority membership and how the student’s experience will be funded
- Understand that the recruitment process is competitive and participation doesn’t always result in an invitation to membership
- Support your student as they make decisions about which organization(s) they are interested in and where they feel most comfortable
- Ask your student about their other involvements. Your student should seek out a well-rounded JMU experience and this includes engaging in various parts of the JMU community including the classroom and other student organizations
- Assist your student in understanding their responsibilities to the organization. Your student is an adult and as such their membership obligations are between them and the chapter
- Regularly discuss their experience in the organization to gain a better understanding of how your student is engaging in the chapter
- Participate in chapter activities geared toward family members. Many organizations will host 1-2 events per year specifically for families and this is a great way to learn more about the experience that you student is having and to meet the families of other members
- Highlight any concerning behavior. If your student is describing anything that seems unordinary, alert them and alert a Fraternity and Sorority Life staff member at email@example.com
You’ve made it to our website, which is a great start! Still have concerns? Our staff members are eager to honestly answer any questions you have about membership in a fraternity or sorority at James Madison University. If you’re on campus, stop by our office in Madison Union 420. You can also call us at (540) 568-4195, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The media does not accurately reflect holistic membership in a fraternity or sorority. In today’s world, fraternities and sororities are committed to social responsibility and to providing safe, affirming opportunities for members to develop into better people. The Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, in conjunction with member organizations, has developed a comprehensive list of expectations and policies that govern everything from social events to new member education. Fraternities and sororities are also expected to abide by James Madison University policy as well as the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. JMU has a no-tolerance policy for hazing and follows up on all reports of inappropriate activity by its organizations.