Sending a student to college can be a challenging and stressful time in a parent or family's life. While at William & Mary, your student will encounter many opportunities to become involved outside of their classroom experience. It is important that you, the parent or family, be educated about the enriching experience that your student will find by being involved in a fraternity or sorority at William & Mary.
What is being involved in a fraternity or sorority all about?
Knowing what you have seen on television and read in the local newspaper, the reality is those are extreme cases of fraternity and sorority life. What the media will not tell you as a parent or family member is there are many life-long benefits to membership in fraternities and sororities. At a college like William & Mary, membership in a fraternity or sorority offers a small community of friends away from home. Additionally, national research has shown that involvement in fraternities and sororities increases students' chances of graduating from college. As a life-long member of a fraternity or sorority, students are offered the opportunity to develop as leaders, serve the local community, and focus on academics, as well as their careers, by connecting with local alumni members of their organizations.
My child is considering joining a fraternity or sorority; what advice should I give them?
Since joining a fraternity or sorority is a lifelong commitment, and there is an expense associated with membership, it should be a joint decision between student and parent or family. Consider sitting down with your student and research all of the organizations that are available. Utilizing local chapter and national websites are a great, convenient way to gather information. Feel free to contact students who are currently involved and their parents or families and ask them about their experience. In most cases, both students and parents or families will speak candidly about their fraternity/sorority involvement.
As an educated consumer, consider asking the following questions before your student joins a fraternity or sorority:
- What is expected of fraternity/sorority members?
- What leadership opportunities are available to students as both new members and active members?
- Does the chapter perform hands-on community service? If so, how often?
- Does the fraternity or sorority require members to live in the facility (if housing is available)? If so, for how long?
- What is the each semester/annual expense associated with membership? How does this vary as a new member?
- What type of member is the chapter looking for?
- What values does this organization promote?
- Is the organization officially recognized by the University? If not, why is this the case?
I am not affiliated with a fraternity or sorority; how can I learn more about it?
Websites to take a closer look at:
Does William & Mary Publish Organization Discipline?
Yes. In an effort to provide increased transparency to the community, William & Mary is now publishing the discipline records of recognized student organizations. The publication includes all incidents that result in sanctions of Disciplinary Probation or greater, and the outcome remains published for three academic years after issuance or until the sanction is complete, if the sanction takes longer than three years to complete. To access the information, follow this link. The information is compiled and maintained by Community Values & Restorative Practices. Any questions about the information should be directed to that office. We encourage any student interested in joining a fraternity or sorority at William & Mary to use this information as a tool when evaluating organizational fit. We encourage students, parents, and families to be informed about the organizations students join.
What are the safety risks associated with membership in a fraternity or sorority?
It can be perceived that fraternity or sorority membership may compromise a student's safety and well-being. This certainly is not the case. In order to be recognized by William & Mary and maintain membership in the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, or National PanHellenic Councils, all fraternities and sororities are required to follow alcohol and risk management policies in accordance with the state law of Virginia, and are enforced by both William & Mary and members of fraternities and sororities themselves. In addition, the fraternity and sorority councils ensure chapters are promoting a safe environment for its members.
Hazing is both against university policy as well as state law. Hazing is defined as "Doing, requiring or encouraging any act, whether or not the act is voluntarily agreed upon, in conjunction with initiation or continued membership or participation in any group, that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, use of alcohol, creation of excessive fatigue, and paddling, punching or kicking in any form" and will not be tolerated.