How to Start a New Fraternity at Your School – A Guide

Are you interested in Greek life, but not particularly interested in any of the fraternities already on your campus?  Not to worry, as there are literally hundreds of fraternities in the United States with a wide array of focus areas.  There is a good chance that there is a Greek-lettered organization out there that suits your values and goals.  This step-by-step guide will show you how to find a fraternity to your liking and how to successfully establish a chapter on your school campus.

We first provide a checklist of the things you need to do to start a fraternity with detailed explanations below:

  1. Research fraternities
  2. Contact the fraternity’s national board
  3. Contact your school’s Greek Life office
  4. Create an interest group
  5. Affiliate your interest group with a national organization
  6. Apply for recognition from your school’s Greek Life office

Step 1: Research Fraternities

If you want to start a new chapter at your school, you first have to decide what kind of fraternity you want to bring on campus.  There are several major categories of fraternities: traditional/social, minority, multicultural, service, religious, and academic.  Traditional/social, minority, and multicultural fraternities almost always tend to be male only (with female-only counterpart organizations called sororities), while service, religious, and academic fraternities generally tend to be co-ed.  A good place to start is the Wikipedia page on fraternities and sororities: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_fraternities_and_sororities

Step 2: Contact the Fraternity’s National Board

If you find a fraternity to your liking, the next step would be to reach out to that fraternity’s national board.  The national board of a fraternity is an umbrella organization that governs all of the fraternity’s chapters.  The national board also sets procedures for the establishment of new chapters.

Most national fraternities have a webpage that you can visit with the contact information of the person in charge of expansion, usually with the title of Vice President of Organizational Expansion.  Reach out to that person and ask him whether the fraternity is looking to establish new chapters and what that process would entail.  Typical requirements include a minimum number of individuals in the founding class, a minimum GPA level, and the organization of one or several events related to the fraternity’s core mission.

Step 3: Contact Your School’s Greek Life Office

This is the most important as well as the most time-consuming part of establishing a new fraternity at your school.  Every school has a Greek Life office that oversees all of the Greek-lettered organizations that are present and officially recognized at that school.  Contact your school’s Greek Life office and find out what the process is for recognition of a new fraternity.  For some schools, starting a new fraternity is no different than starting a student club or association.  All that may be required is to complete and submit some paperwork to the body governing student clubs and associations at your school.

For most schools, however, starting a new fraternity requires that certain additional requirements be met in addition to those that govern regular student clubs and associations.  You will need to find out just what those additional requirements are at your school.  Some requirements our chapters have come across in the past have included:

  • A mandatory “research” period lasting one to several semesters
  • A faculty sponsor
  • Holding a minimum number of cultural, fundraising, and/or community service events
  • A written application for sponsorship by one or more Greek councils at the school (if there is a Multicultural Greek Council at your school, you will most likely apply for sponsorship there)
  • A formal presentation to the sponsoring Greek Council for recognition as an active chapter at the end of the research period

A few schools have a hard ceiling on how many Greek-lettered organizations can be active on their campuses at any one time.  For these types of schools, there is often a wait list for new fraternities and sororities that could last for several years.  While you can still petition a fraternity’s national board to grant you a charter, please understand that your chapter will not be recognized by your school and that you will not be able to use school resources due to the lack of recognition.

Prior to reaching out to the Greek Life office, be prepared to explain why you believe your school needs a new fraternity.  Also ask what the Greek Life office would like you to accomplish before they would be willing to recognize your fraternity.  Do not be discouraged if they try to dissuade you from starting a new fraternity, as the school does not want to sponsor new organizations that will then quickly die out.  As a result, you will have to come in with a very concrete pitch and strategic plan to tell them how your fraternity will survive moving forward and how it will fit into the daily life of the campus.  Be ready to provide details about your goals, values, list of potential national fraternities, and list of interested individuals (see Step 4).  The administration will be much more open to your idea if it is clear that you are serious about the endeavor and know what you are doing.

Step 4: Create an Interest Group

If your school is one that does not treat Greek-lettered organizations the same as other student clubs and associations, then that means you will not be able to be immediately recognized by your school.  You should formally establish an interest group and recruit the minimum number of members set by the fraternity’s national board to join the group.  The purpose of the group is to provide you and your prospective brothers a chance to gain organizational experience, accumulate organizational knowledge, and promote your organization through activities and inter-organizational contacts.

It is recommended that find individuals who share a similar vision and are willing to go through the whole process with you.  The chances of the fraternity actually becoming chartered and recognized increase exponentially the larger the size of the original interest group.  Finding a large group of dedicated individuals is actually much harder than it sounds.  Therefore, you will need to advertise your idea as much as possible.  Spread interest by word of mouth, by posting on social media, and by putting up flyers up all over campus.  The more people see your message, the more likely you will attract interested individuals.

Another key factor that will affect your chances of attracting enough interested members is your personality.  Are you an outgoing, persuasive person?  Do you have a large social circle?  Are you well-known on campus?  The more influential you are on campus, the greater your chances of people following you in your efforts to start a new fraternity.  If you are serious about starting a new fraternity, then you will approach every male student you interact with as a potential fraternity brother.

The official creation of an interest group might require some sort of interim recognition from your school.  If that is the case, then you will need to draft a constitution, setup a leadership committee, and establish finances.  Again, contact your school’s Greek Life office to find out whether interim recognition of an interest group is necessary for eventual recognition as an active chapter.

Step 5: Affiliate Your Interest Group with a National Organization

After you have established a viable interest group, you will then begin affiliation with your chosen fraternity.  This process is often known in Greek life as “pledging.”  This is a time-consuming and intense process, so make sure that none of your interest group members have overloaded themselves that semester in terms of academic and extracurricular activities.  Hazing is no longer considered an appropriate part of fraternity pledging.  Therefore, if you feel like you have been subjected to hazing, please notify your school and/or law enforcement immediately.

During this time, there will be constant contact between the interest group and the fraternity.  One or more fraternity brothers may be sent to oversee the pledge process of the interest group members.  The interest group may also be required to visit the nearest active chapter to learn about how to setup a successful chapter.

If you complete all of the requirements set out by the national board, then you and your fellow interest group members will be officially initiated into the fraternity as brothers, and your chapter will receive a charter and become affiliated with the national organization.

Step 6: Apply for Recognition from Your School’s Greek Life Office

Once you have completed affiliation with your fraternity, you must then seek recognition from your school’s Greek Like office.  As explained above, this may take several years to complete depending on the policy of the school.  In the meantime, it is recommended that you build good relationships with each and every Greek-lettered organization in the council to which you are applying.  Most times, those organizations will vote on whether to accept you into their council and allow you to become a fully-recognized chapter on campus.

 

Once you have received recognition from your school’s Greek Life office, then your journey of starting a new fraternity is complete.  Congratulations!

 

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau’s expansion committee at expansion@delphic-gst.org.