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Sorority Vocabulary

Some of the most common terms you'll hear about sorority life.

Active: A collegiate, initiated member of a sorority chapter. 
 
Badge: An insignia of fraternity or sorority membership worn by initiated members. Each sorority has its badge.
 
Bid Day: The last day of recruitment, when potential new members receive bids to join chapters and become new members. Each chapter will usually host a Bid Day activity to help the new members get to know each other and the rest of the chapter, like bowling or roller skating. The Unanimous Agreements state that there is to be no alcohol use or men associated with recruitment or Bid Day.
 
Big sister: An active member of a chapter who is paired with a new member as a mentor.
 
College Panhellenic Association: The cooperative campus organization of collegiate members of NPC fraternities
 
College Panhellenic Council: A council for all of the National Panhellenic Conference sorority chapters on a campus. This council serves as the governing body for all NPC chapters on campus and organizes the recruitment process. Each chapter chooses a delegate to sit on its College Panhellenic council.
 
Continuous Open Bidding (COB): An opportunity for chapters that do not reach quota during primary recruitment to bid to total and/or quota. The continuous open bidding process is less formal, and not all chapters will participate in continuous open bidding.
 
Initiation: A traditional ceremony that brings a new member into full membership of a sorority or fraternity. Once you are initiated into an NPC sorority, you are ineligible for membership in any other.
 
Intentional single preference: When a woman lists only one chapter on her membership recruitment acceptance binding agreement following preference round.
 
Legacy: A daughter, sister or granddaughter of an initiated member of a sorority. Typically, different groups have different definitions of legacies. Being a legacy does not guarantee a bid to a particular sorority. Each inter/national organization has its own policy for invitations to legacies during recruitment
 
MRABA: The Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement. This is a one-year binding agreement signed by a potential new member when ranking chapters after preference round. A PNM agrees to accept a bid from any chapter she lists on her MRABA. If a PNM receives a bid to a chapter she lists and declines it, she is bound to it for one year or until the next primary recruitment period, meaning she cannot accept a bid to any other organization. If a PNM signs an MRABA and does not receive a bid, she is eligible for continuous open bidding or snap bidding.
 
New member: A person who has accepted a bid from a sorority but is not yet an active member of that chapter. Chapters will have some sort of new member process during which the new members learn more about the sorority and prepare them for initiation.
 
NPC: The National Panhellenic Conference, or the umbrella body for 26 inter/national women’s fraternities and sororities.
 
Potential new member (PNM): A woman who is eligible to participate in recruitment. On campuses that hold deferred recruitment during second semester, chapters might use the term PNM to refer to any woman eligible for recruitment.
 
Quota: The number of potential new members to which each chapter can offer bids during recruitment. This is determined with a formula involving the number of chapters and the number of women participating in bid matching.
 
Recommendation: A form completed by an alumna member of a sorority recommending a potential new member for membership. Recommendations may be more important at some campuses than others. Check with your fraternity and sorority life office to find out more information.
 
Recruitment counselor: A sorority member who is disassociated from her sorority to serve as a recruitment guide. Each PNM will be assigned a recruitment counselor during primary recruitment. 

Ritual: The private traditions and practices of a sorority deeply rooted in the shared values and purpose of the members. Ritual serves as a reminder to each member of her responsibilities and inspires her to fulfill them. Rituals connect the past with the present and the future.

Silence: A period of time after the close of membership recruitment events and prior to the distribution of bids when there is no communication between potential new members and sorority members.
 
Snap bidding: An option available to chapters that did not fill quota. Chapters may offer bids to potential new members whose preferences were not matched, meaning they would not be extended a bid by chapters they listed on their preference rankings after preference round. This process takes place before bids are distributed, and a potential new member would receive a phone call or other contact by a sorority offering her a snap bid. If she chooses to accept, the new member would participate in normal Bid Day activities.
 
Total: The allowable chapter size on a campus, as determined by the College Panhellenic, including new and active members. Chapters that fall under total may be allowed to participate in continuous open bidding until they reach total.
 
Unanimous Agreements: Agreements between the 26 NPC member groups that provide for fairness and equality between the groups. Several of these agreements have to do with recruitment procedures.

Values-based recruitment: A recruitment style that focuses on meaningful conversations between active members and potential new members with the goal of recruiting women who will have a positive impact on chapters and the Panhellenic community. Nonessential features such as skits, elaborate decorations and costumes are removed from the process, and the focus is on the values, benefits and obligations of membership for each organization.

What's It Like?

"My sorority sisters mean the world to me. I can honestly say that I've met my future bridesmaids and best friends through my sorority. Because my sorority is so diverse, I have met so many wonderful girls, girls I would have never had the opportunity to talk with otherwise. Although my chapter consists of over 120 girls, I know if I ever had an issue or needed help, every single one of them would be there by my side."

Senior, University of California, Irvine

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