The Greek life

What to know if you decide to pledge allegiance to a frat or sorority

FRAT FAN <br>Dominic Ercolini joined Delta Psi Delta five years ago to meet new people—and to party.

Dominic Ercolini joined Delta Psi Delta five years ago to meet new people—and to party.

Photo By Tom Angel

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To pledge or not to pledge? That seems to be the question on most new college students’ minds. But when it comes to joining a fraternity or a sorority, there are a lot of things you have to consider.

Dominic Ercolini, president of Delta Psi Delta, urges potential pledges to check out all of their options before joining a fraternity.

“Don’t just join one because it has a big name or all your friends are joining it,” Ercolini said. “Everyone’s a little bit different in their own way. Make sure you get along with everyone there.”

Something else you might want to consider is whether the fraternity is national and belongs to the Interfraternity Council. Of the 22 social fraternities in Chico, only 12 are members.

“A group of all the fraternities get together and make sure we’re following the rules and we get along with campus,” Ercolini said. “Things like that to get a little better organized.”

There are six national sororities that belong to the Panhellenic Council, a national organization comprised of 26 national and international female fraternal organizations.

According to the Panhellenic Council Web site, they aim to unite every sorority woman regardless of individual affiliation and strive for overall Greek unity.

Chelsea Irwin said she joined Alpha Phi because her older sister was in a sorority. When it came to pledging, she said, the process was very simple.

“We had to do interviews. Nothing really crazy, like learn your Greek alphabet and stuff,” she said.

Big concerns for most students at this point are their finances and housing situations. If you join a fraternity or a sorority, there are average active semester dues of about $425 and average pledge semester dues of about $850. Each organization is self-supported from dues paid by its members.

“If housing is offered, the lodging and meals are generally more competitive than other options available to you at Chico State,” according to the Interfraternity Council Web site.

Some students may wonder, why join a fraternity or a sorority at all? What do they really offer?

Ercolini said the main reasons he joined five years ago was to meet new people, have fun and of course to do a little bit of partying. But there were other perks to pledging.

“Academic connections once you graduate,” he said. “I already have a job lined up with one of our alumni.”

Most fraternities and sororities also engage in charitable work.

Frat member Zack Jones, 21, was also able to find a job through his fraternity connections.

Two years ago Jones had a class with some of the guys in Delta Psi Delta. “They were really nice people and I decided to show up. First of all I went around and checked out the other fraternities; then I showed up here, and I just liked everything about it.”

Jones’ advice to potential pledges is to really research their options.

“Don’t base it on the appearance,” he said. “Check out the brothers and how they act.”

The best way to get a look at a fraternity or a sorority is during Rush Week, when the Greek organizations open their doors to potential pledges so they can get a feel for the groups.

“We would go to all the houses and meet all the different guys,” said Joe McDonough, a second-year member of Delta Chi. “There’s food at every house, and as the week progresses you eliminate all the houses you don’t really feel comfortable in. You get invited on Friday to join with a bid. If you have more then one bid, then you decide which one you like more. Then you go to the house, and there’s a bid night, a party or social, and it’s usually with a sorority.”

After you accept the bid, you begin the pledging process, which, McDonough insists, does not include hazing.

“We don’t make our pledges drink or hit them with a paddle or anything,” he said. “I don’t know if other fraternities do.”

Twenty-one-year-old McDonough said his pledging experience was a good one.

“All my best friends were my pledge brothers. We were in the dorms together; we pledged together; it was a lot of fun. Probably one of my favorite semesters in college actually,” he said, laughing.

McDonough said his main motivation for joining a fraternity was because of sports. He plays everything from football to soccer to ultimate Frisbee.

“It’s easier to get on a team,” he said. “We always have different teams for everything. Not just for sports on campus, but also for men’s leagues in the Chico community.”

His advice to everyone, even people who are thinking fraternity life may not be the right choice for them, is to just give it a shot.

“Just see if you like it, and you can always walk away if you don’t,” he said.

Thanks to the movie Animal House and an accumulation of notorious incidents, locally and elsewhere, fraternities and sororities are also known for their wild partying habits. But, perhaps surprisingly to critics, they’re not just about back-to-back keggers.

“I form study groups with people who are in my classes,” Ercolini said. “I know from the fraternity that some people have had the classes that I had, and they teach me the homework when I don’t get it.”

The overall best thing about being in a fraternity or a sorority seems to be the sense of belonging.

“You’ll always have people there for you," Ercolini said, "and a place to come back to when you graduate."