“It’s All Greek to Me”: Sorority Lingo 101


Last Friday marked the beginning of Spring Sorority Formal Recruitment 2016. If you were anywhere near Campion yesterday, you surely heard the roaring chants being shouted by the five different sororities during Philanthropy Night. Anyone who came into contact with the chants were either shocked, confused, or annoyed. Yes, we are loud. But, it’s all for a reason. In hopes to clear up some of the confusion around sorority life, this post will act as a guide to the lingo.

“Formal” vs. “Informal” Recruitment

On Saint Joe’s campus, Formal Recruitment happens in the spring of each year. It is three, scheduled days of meeting sisters and getting to know all five of the organizations we have on campus. It begins with Philanthropy Night, then Sisterhood Night, then Preference Night. This year, there are about 250 women participating in Formal Recruitment.

Informal Recruitment is a more casual method of finding new members. Also, not all of the sororities participate. If an organization has as many members as spots available, they will not participate. However, if an organization has a few open spots, they will try to fill them. Informal recruitment is usually made up of casual events where potential new members (PNMs) can hang out and get to know the sisters. At SJU, Informal Recruitment takes place in the Fall semester.


A “bid” is essentially an invitation to join a sorority. After Preference Night, the sorority members decide who they would like to invite to join their sisterhood. The following day is Bid Day, in which all of the organizations come together and give out bids to PNMs. This marks the end of Recruitment and is definitely the most fun day.

“Little,” “Big,” and “G-Big”

These words are ones that are impossible to avoid in sorority life. When you join a sorority, there is a mutual selection process that results in you being assigned to your Big Sister. We call it “Big” for short. This sister is your mentor in the sorority and helps you to navigate your new member period. So, when you get a Big, you are now her “Little,” short for Little Sister. Every member gets a Big, so your Big’s Big is your Grand-Big, or just “G-Big” for short. If someone has two littles, they are Twins. Your Big, G-Big, G-G-Big, and maybe Twin, all make up your Family. Your Family will likely be some of your best friends in the organization.

“New Member Period”

Often called “Pledge Period,” this is the time when you learn about your sorority and spend a few weeks gathering information before you are initiated. New Members aren’t sisters yet, but are on their way to be.


There are two different meanings of this word. Each sorority on SJU campus is a collegiate “chapter” of a national/international sorority organization. For example, Sigma Beta is the chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Saint Joseph’s University. The second meaning is a weekly meeting that the whole sorority attends. It is when the organization goes over the business of the day, which includes any important information regarding upcoming events and projects. It is also an opportunity for the chapter to come together and unite in sisterhood.

“Panhellenic Council” or “Panhel”

“Panhel” for short, the Panhellenic Council is a group of women representing each of the sororities on campus that come together to discuss issues regarding Greek Life on campus and how to continue unity among the different chapters.


Dues are fees paid to the organization to keep it running and make your membership experience pleasant.


Hopefully that cleared up some of the confusion around Greek life! All of the different terms may seem intimidating to a non-Greek person, but it is surely unintentional. Greek Life is all about unity, and that includes members of the campus community who are not affiliated with an organization.

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