Terminology & Greek Alphabet
Glossary of Commonly Used Greek Terms
Alumni/a - An initiated member of a chapter who has graduated from college.
Bid - A formal invitation to join a chapter.
Call - The verbal greeting NPHC members within a fraternity/sorority give each other.
Chapter - The local collegiate group of an inter/national sorority or fraternity.
Colony – A group of students who have started a new fraternity or sorority
Continuous Open Bidding (COB) – the period other than Fall Formal Recruitment, when Panhellenic sororities acquire new members.
Crossing - A term used by NPHC groups to indicate that a new member has been fully initiated into the group. May also use the term "crossing the burning sands."
Frat - The term used to refer to a brother of an NPHC fraternity.
Fraternity – A Greek-letter society for men. Some sororities are actually women’s fraternities.
Formal Recruitment - A structured membership selection process for IFC and PHC, that generally occurs in the Fall.
Greek - A student who is a member of a social fraternity or sorority.
Informational - A forum for individuals interested in seeking more information about a particular NPHC fraternity or sorority.
Interfraternity Council (IFC) - A service and government body of fraternities affiliated with the North-American Interfraternity Conference.
Initiate- A fully initiated member of a chapter.
Initiation - A formal ceremony that marks the transition from new member to full member status.
Legacy - A prospective member whose parent, sibling, or grandparent is an alumni/a or undergraduate member of a fraternity or sorority.
Line - Individuals going through the NPHC membership intake process. In 1990, all 9 NPHC groups prohibited "pledging" and began a process called "membership intake" (see definition below).
Line Number - The numerical designation given to a candidate according to the place they occupyIn the intake class in relation to other candidates. Commonly worn on the back of a jacket or T-shirt.
Line Step/Stroll - A traditional dance in which members of an NPHC group form a line and perform synchronized, rhythmic steps. Line steps/strolls are done at social functions.
Membership Intake - The term groups used to bring new members into an NPHC organization. Each group is assisted in this process by their Graduate Chapter and Chapter Advisor (a group of local alumni). In general, NPHC groups require sophomore status and a 2.5 cumulative GPA for someone to go through membership intake.
Multicultural Council (MGC) – The coordinating and servicing body for historically Latino & Asian fraternities and sororities at Iowa.
National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) – The coordinating and servicing body for historically African-American fraternities and sororities.
Neophyte - A new member of an NPHC fraternity or sorority.
New Member - A person who has accepted an invitation to join a chapter and has not yet been initiated.
Panhellenic Council (PHC) - The coordinating governing body of sororities affiliated with the National Panhellenic Conference.
Philanthropy – charitable project to raise money and awareness for a particular cause sponsored by each chapter on campus.
Philanthropy Day – A day of Fall Formal Recruitment set aside for participating in philanthropic activities at the individual chapter events.
Potential Member - A non-Greek undergraduate student who participates in the recruitment process.
Preference Round – The invitational event on the last day of Fall Formal Recruitment. Generally, this is the longest and most serious day of recruitment.
Prophyte - Someone who has been a member of an NPHC group for a year or more, orsomeone who has initiated new members.
Recommendations/References – A written letter recommending a potential member for membership signed by an alumnus. These are not necessary for students to participate in recruitment.
Recruitment – Social experience organized by the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils in which mutual selection allows each potential member to determine chapter membership.
Recruitment Counselor – A man or woman representative who assists potential members during the recruitment process.
Recruitment Guest – A student who participates in either formal or informal recruitment
Quota - The specified number of new members each Panhellenic sorority can accept based on the number participating in preference round of Fall Formal Recruitment.
Sands - The term used to refer to men and women who were initiated in the same term and year (ex. Spring 2008). Note: they do not have to belong to the same group.
Soror -The NPHC term used to refer to a sister of the sorority.
Sorority – A Greek-letter society for women, also called a women’s fraternity.
Step Show - A festive event in which NPHC members of an organization or several organizations perform synchronized, rhythmic steps while chanting lyrics to show pride and spirit for their organization. Since steps shows are a big tradition within NPHC groups nationwide, a considerable number of alumni return to campus to witness and/or participate in this event.
Total – the maximum number of women a PHC chapter can have on a particular campus. At Iowa, campus total is 110 members.
Yard - A term used by NPHC groups to indicate the campus. Used in phrases such as “which groups are on the yard,“ meaning which groups are presently active at Iowa.