Student Handbook - Fraternity & Sorority Life Policies
Fraternity and sorority life at Union College is part of a long and storied history dating back to 1825, and has proved to be an invaluable part of the campus community. As the home of six founding fraternities and the "Union Triad," we are often recognized as the “Mother of Fraternities.” The fraternity and sorority life community at Union is comprised of the Interfraternity Council, the College Panhellenic Council, and the Multicultural Greek Council, together representing 18 chapters.
The rules and procedures outlined herein have been established by the College to promote a safe, healthy, and productive fraternity and sorority experience for all students involved. Fraternities and sororities must adhere to all rules and procedures that appear in this section, in addition to those outlined in the Student Conduct Code.
Definitions (Fraternity & Sorority Life Terminology)
A fully initiated member of the chapter.
A formal invitation to join a fraternity or sorority. Although you may receive several bids, you may only accept a bid from one organization.
The local group of a Greek organization on campus.
College Panhellenic Council (CPC)
College advised council representing the three traditional sororities currently present on the Union campus. Council is governed by the rules of both the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and Union College.
Coordinated hands-on engagement volunteer work/labor in the community, often done in conjunction with an agency or special cause.
Any event or activity that is sponsored, endorsed, organized, or hosted by a fraternity and/or sorority or any of their members, or any event that a reasonable observer would associate with the fraternity and/or sorority. This also includes events or activities communicated by word of mouth or unofficial advertisement, whether they take place on College property, non-College owned off-campus properties, or at any other venue. The following bullets are meant to offer some examples and are not intended as the only way an event or activity can be considered a Greek Event:
- The Chapter pays for any part of the event or activity through the Chapter account or collection of funds from individual members.
- The event or activity is advertised by or associated with the Chapter in any way (flyers, handouts, announcement at Chapter meetings, email listserv distributions).
- Attendance of the members (regardless of how many there are) present at the event or activity is based upon their affiliation rather than their individual initiative (i.e., is it more likely they attended because of their affiliation?).
The ritual or process which brings a new member into full membership.
Interest Meeting or Informational Meeting
Meeting held by Multicultural Greek Council fraternities and sororities to dispense information about the membership intake process (applications, fees, due dates etc.) and recruit new members
Interfraternity Council (IFC)
College advised council representing the 12 traditional fraternities currently present on the Union campus. Council is governed by both the rules of the North American Interfraternity Council (NIC) and Union College.
Multicultural Greek Council (MGC)
College advised council representing both culturally based fraternities and sororities, as well as local fraternities or sororities on the Union campus.
A currently enrolled student that meets all College requirements for membership in a Greek organization, has received (and accepted) a bid or invitation for membership, and is working towards initiation/full membership
New Member Presentation (Probate/Surfacing)
Traditional revealing of newly initiated members in Multicultural Greek Council fraternities and sororities.
An event or project designed to raise funds for a community non-profit or charitable cause.
Potential New Member
A currently enrolled student that is being recruited to join a fraternity or sorority but has not yet accepted a bid or invitation for membership.
Potential New Member (PNM)
A student that meets all college requirements, and is being considered or evaluated for an offer of membership or bid.
A period during which fraternities and sororities seek out and engage interested students by demonstrating what each organization offers its members. This is also the period where the Interfraternity Council and College Panhellenic Council will offer bids to potential new members.
Defined as the formal process by which Union College agrees that a fraternity or sorority may function on the campus, enroll members from the undergraduate body through recruitment/intake activities, and identifies its chapter with the College. For the purpose of this recognition policy, the terms “fraternity” and “sorority” are used to designate a collegiate Greek-letter organization. The organizations reviewed for recognition under this policy have all the following characteristics:
- They are entitled to single-sex membership under the provisions of Section 86.14 of regulations promulgated under Title IX of the U.S. Education Act Amendments of 1972.
- They are entitled to be subjectively selective in their membership within the limits stated under Section 86.14 of regulations promulgated under Title IX of the U.S. Education Act Amendments of 1972.
- They are legal corporations external to the College. In all cases, their chapter corporations, alumni corporations, and inter/national Greek organizations are incorporated separately from the College.*
*Note: The College is not legally responsible or liable for the acts of those organizations.
Rationale for Recognition Policy
The Recognition Policy enables the College to maintain a record of Greek organizations. This record facilitates communication between the College and the Greek organizations and their members and permits the College to identify readily those Greek organizations which are entitled to the benefits of recognition. The Policy is further supported by the following assumptions:
- Fraternities and Sororities are an integral part of the educational environment at Union and are expected to support the mission and educational values of Union College.
- The College is concerned about student welfare outside the classroom and within the College residential units inhabited by fraternities and sororities.
- All national fraternities and sororities are required by their parent organizations to be recognized by the College.
- Mutual responsibility is needed between the College and the fraternities and sororities. Fraternities and sororities, by way of recognition, are accountable to the College.
Use of College Name
Recognized fraternities and sororities enjoy benefits and privileges associated with their affiliation with Union College. It is understood that fraternities and sororities shall not use the name of the College for any purpose other than chapter identification. Any further use of the College’s name shall require the prior approval of the Dean of Students or designee. In no event shall any fraternity or sorority use the College’s name or tax identification number or hold itself out in such manner as to suggest that it is synonymous with, or authorized to act on behalf of, Union College or that its action are in any way approved, sponsored, or endorsed by Union College without prior approval. Violations of this may result in withdrawal of recognition.
All organizations, regardless of recognition level, must maintain comprehensive general liability insurance in the minimum amount of $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) of primary liability coverage (each occurrence) with general aggregate coverage of at least $2,000,000.00 (total). Such liability insurance shall include Union College, its officers, employees and agents, as an additional named insured and shall be written with an insurance carrier acceptable to the College. A certificate of such insurance shall be forwarded to the College as evidence of such coverage, and the College must receive notice of any change, cancellation, or renewal of the policy. The insurance shall be considered primary over any and all collectable insurance that the College may have available.
Each fraternity or sorority seeking to gain or maintain recognition must have a collective responsibility for the behavior of members when in their chapter house or when acting as a group outside the chapter house. If a group does not have housing, members have collective responsibility when involved in activities on and off campus.
This policy constitutes Union’s procedure for conferring said recognition of social fraternities and sororities. It is expected, as the fraternity and sorority system expands, that this policy will be reviewed and adapted accordingly. There are three levels of recognition available to fraternities and sororities at Union College—Provisional, Full, and Probationary (see Maintaining Recognition section). Listed below are descriptions and conditions of each level of recognition.
Provisional recognition is given to new and/or returning organizations that seek to become fully recognized fraternities/sororities at Union College by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee and the respective governing council. Provisional recognition, once given, is good for a period of one (1) calendar year, defined as twelve (12) months from the date of recognition. If, at the end of that year, an organization has not met the criteria to become a fully recognized Greek organization, a decision will be made by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee, in consultation with the respective governing council, to extend provisional recognition or rescind recognition all together. In order to request Provisional Recognition, an organization must fill out a Provisional Recognition Request application (including the information listed below) and file it with the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee. A request for Provisional Recognition by a group submitting an incomplete application will not be considered until such time as the application is complete.
The following information must be supplied either within or attached to the Provisional Recognition Application:
- A petition for provisional recognition signed by at least three interested undergraduate students who have obtained sophomore academic standing at Union College.
- All membership must consist of undergraduate Union College students only.
- A demonstrated alumni base in the Capital District area from which active and involved advisors will be able to be drawn (who shall not be members of the College community).
- An Inter/National organization who has declared, in writing, an interest in affiliating with and supporting the group of students seeking membership.
- The Inter/National organization must be affiliated and in good standing with one of the umbrella organizations defined at the beginning of this document..
- Relevant information (as stated in application).
- A statement of purpose/principles .
- Organization goals/standards.
- Bylaws and constitution.
- An Inter/National Risk Management Policy.
- An acceptable set of rules of conduct by the national organization.
- A detailed chapter development plan. This plan will include:
- Proposed new member education plans,
- Organization advertisement and publicity plans,
- Recruitment dates,
- Recruitment methods,
- Inter/National and local advisor involvement,
- And any conferences, leadership opportunities, community service, or campus activities that are planned.
If applicable, documentation of support from the appropriate campus governing council (i.e. IFC, CPC or MGC) must also be submitted. If, at the current time, an appropriate governing council does not exist and all other conditions have been met, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee and the students interested in joining the group will meet to discuss alternatives.
Once granted provisional recognition, the following conditions must be met throughout the provisional period for a group to be considered for full recognition.
- Regular meetings with the appropriate fraternity/sorority advisor (i.e. Panhellenic Advisor, IFC Advisor).
- A demonstrated ability to recruit and sustain membership on campus.
- A minimum of five undergraduate Union College students who have reached sophomore status.
- Compliance with all College policies and procedures as outlined in the Student Handbook and with all Inter/National rules and regulations, along with all local, state, and federal laws.
- Campus/community involvement including, but not limited to, educational programming, community service, and philanthropy events.
- Active participation in, support from, and operation within the guidelines of the appropriate council, if applicable.
- Uninterrupted and on-going affiliation and involvement with the Inter/National Organization.
Please note that each student group seeking recognition at Union will be treated on an individual basis. The list above is not exhaustive and additional conditions may be added from time to time. Every effort will be made to provide advance notice of additional conditions.
While on provisional recognition, an organization may:
- Reserve rooms for meetings through the appropriate fraternity/sorority advisor (i.e. Panhellenic Advisor, IFC Advisor).
- Advertise the organization in accordance with policy.
- Recruit members within set guidelines.
- Co-sponsor campus events and programs with a fully recognized organization/club or campus department.
- Participate in the educational, social, and athletic program and activities of the College which are provided for fraternal organizations.
- Have voting rights on the appropriate governing council (but members cannot hold officer positions).
- Identify the chapter with Union and use the College’s name along with, but not in place of, identification of the sponsoring body.
Full recognition is conferred upon a fraternity/sorority that: (i) meets the standards and criteria set forth by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee throughout its provisional recognition period; and (ii) files a completed application for such recognition with the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee prior to the expiration of the provisional period. This application requires:
- An updated statement of purpose/principles.
- Organization goals/standards.
- Bylaws and constitution.
- A current membership roster.
- An officer listing.
- An activities report which includes all campus and community involvement through the provisional recognition period.
- A contact list of local advisors.
Final determination of whether or not full recognition is given to the organization will be made by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee based on the above required information and whether the provisional recognition requirements were met.
Benefits of Full Recognition
- Chapters are granted the ability to apply for on-campus housing through the SAC (Student Affairs Committee) process.
- Access to and use of College facilities for official functions.
- Co-sponsor campus events and programs with organizations with Provisional Recognition.
- Hold an officer position within the appropriate governing body.
- Ability for inclusion as a Recognized Organization in all published materials (i.e. college website, “All About U”, Garnet Yearbook, etc.).
- Advertise the organization in accordance with College policy.
- Recruit members within set guidelines.
Full Recognition will be maintained by chapters remaining in “good standing” as evaluated by being in compliance with the Student Conduct Code and the additional criteria and standards established by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee in this section. Should it be determined that a chapter is not in good standing, their recognition can be revoked or they can be put on Probationary Recognition for a period of time not to exceed one calendar year.
Full recognition may be revoked by the Vice President for Student Affairs at any time for a chapter’s failure to comply with College and/or Inter/National rules, regulations, and policies. If a group is accused of violating the Student Conduct Code, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee may halt all activities of the group until the conduct process is complete. It is possible that a chapter will lose all recognition as a result of the conduct process, at which point it will cease to exist at Union College either permanently or for a determined period of time.
Loss of Recognition/Probationary Recognition
A chapter’s recognition can be revoked or the chapter can be put on Probationary Recognition for various reasons including, but not limited to, the following:
- If the chapter receives a one year SAC (Student Affairs Committee) review, if applicable.
- If the membership numbers fall below the minimum of three undergraduate students.
- If a chapter is found to be recruiting from a population other than Union College undergraduate students of at least sophomore academic status.
- Not complying with College rules, regulations, and policies.
- Not complying with the terms of all contractual agreement with the College.
- Failure to update and maintain required documentation with the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee, including officer contact information.
- Failure to maintain membership rosters.
- Failure to submit lists of potential new members and have their qualifications verified prior to offering bids/invitations for membership.
- Failure to maintain insurance/submit an up to date certificate of insurance.
- Not maintaining constitution and bylaws.
- Not maintaining detailed chapter development plans.
- Not active in appropriate governing council.
- Failure to maintain positive and proactive campus/community involvement including, but not limited to, educational programming, community service, and philanthropy events.
- Failure to comply with the Rules of Public Order, adopted by the Union College Board of Trustees, and, in particular, the provision prohibiting any action which recklessly or intentionally endangers anyone’s mental or physical health or involves the forced consumption of alcohol or other drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with the Chapter. This provision shall be deemed to be part of the Chapter’s bylaws.
- Failure to comply with generally accepted standards of neighborliness, including exterior neatness of the premises, the avoidance of unreasonable noise levels, and compliance with related local laws.
- For fraternities and sororities occupying College owned facilities, failure to maintain premises in conditions satisfactory to the College and in compliance with SAC (Student Affairs Council) regulations.
- For fraternities and sororities occupying facilities not owned by the College, failure to have certification to the College that there exists a house association (which shall sign such certification) which as assumed full responsibility for the physical condition of the facility and compliance with all applicable local codes, regulations, and standards for issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. Additionally, failure of an officer of the house association and the chapter president to certify that an annual safety inspection has been performed by an organization or person satisfactory to the College and that all violations have been corrected or are in the process of being corrected. Local authorities having jurisdiction include, but are not limited to, the Schenectady Fire Department and Building Inspector.
Probationary Recognition will last for a period of time not to exceed one calendar year. At the end of the prescribed Probationary Recognition Period, the decision will either be made to extend probation, to revoke all recognition, or to grant the chapter Full Recognition status. A chapter that has been placed on Probationary Recognition will have to meet all the criteria listed above for chapters seeking Full Recognition in addition to any sanctions in order to be considered for Full Recognition.
1999 Trustee Resolution on Membership in Unrecognized Fraternal and Social Organizations
No student may rush, pledge, perpetuate, engage in initiation activities, or become a member of a fraternal or social organization not recognized by the College. Anyone engaging in those activities, either as a member, recruiter, or potential pledge, will be suspended for a minimum of one year or may be subject to additional penalties that could include expulsion from the College. A fraternal or social organization shall be covered by this rule if: (a) its leadership and/or a significant number of its members are Union College students, or (b) the members being recruited and offered membership are current Union College students. Any student who is uncertain about the legitimacy of any group is encouraged to inquire in either the Fraternity & Sorority Life Office or the Dean of Students Office.
Chapter Management Guidelines
Conflicts between Union and Organizational Policies
Those students who also happen to be members of fraternities and sororities are accountable at several levels: Union College, the local chapter, the governing council and the national organization. However, Union is not responsible for deciding matters of pure organizational policy, which means any concerns members have regarding decisions made by their chapter or inter/national headquarters must be resolved through organizational channels. Union College will intervene only when there is a breach of Union College policy.
Basic Chapter Operational Requirements
To be considered an active chapter at Union College, and organization must:
- Have at least four fully initiated members currently enrolled at the College.
- Belong to, and actively participate in a governing council.
- If the chapter currently occupies a College owned facility and wishes to keep this space, they must also:
- Maintain 95% occupancy rate for the house (determined by the College, will vary based on location).
- Abstain from vandalism or misuse of the building.
Beginning with the Class of 2005, the College instituted a “Sophomore Recruitment” process for all Greek letter organizations. Simply stated, students may not apply for membership in Fraternities and Sororities until they have obtained sophomore academic standing. First-year students (freshmen) are prohibited from participating in any fraternity/sorority Recruitment or Membership Intake activities organized or sponsored by any College recognized Greek Organizations as defined above, and/or by the respective governing councils’ guidelines. Fraternities and Sororities are also prohibited from extending bids and/or membership invitations to any student who has not obtained sophomore academic status. Failure to abide by this policy may result in sanctions on the chapter, up to and including Loss of Recognition.
Extension for NPC Women’s Sororities (in addition to College policies)
When all NPC chapters are over or close to total, or a need arises as determined by the Panhellenic Advisor and the Panhellenic Council, consideration will be given to adding another chapter. Such a chapter shall be organized through colonization by an NPC fraternity. NPC guidelines should be followed as closely as possible when establishing a new chapter. The College reserves the right to override an NPC rule, which is in conflict with a decision made by Union College officials. All new chapters seeking recognition must provide proof of insurance to the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or designee prior to colonization.
All expansion activities, including colonization and subsequent conferral of recognition, must be approved by the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Risk Management Guidelines (see also FIPG Risk Management Policy)
The following activities and behaviors are banned. They are considered extremely high risk activities and can result in significant personal injury, danger to oneself or others, or property damage. Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in the sanctioning of the chapter, up to and including loss of recognition/suspension.
- The use of materials that will damage College facilities or create a need for unusual/excessive cleaning, such as paint, sand, water, foam etc.
- Any use of human performers/dancers (exotic dancers, strippers, go-go dancers) and/or props (cages and poles) that encourage or promote this activity in fraternity and sorority houses.
- The use of “kiddie pools” and slip‘n slide devices in any form at a chapter function, gathering or event.
Dry Recruitment (Rush) and New Member Education/Intake Process
Recruitment occurs during the second week of each term. In order to participate, students must have achieved sophomore academic standing (9 or more credit hours) and have a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA. Dry Recruitment is defined as any period of time organized by the organization for the recruitment of potential new members, and must be completely alcohol free. Alcohol may not be present in any form during recruitment events, even if it is not being served to potential new members. This is in effect for the entire recruitment period. It is also the expectation that the laws of the State of New York will be followed regarding the legal drinking age at any event outside of recruitment and/or education activities.
The New Member Education process at Union College is also 100% dry (alcohol free). All chapters must submit a calendar of events outlining the date, time and location of each new member education activity by the end of the recruitment week. In the case of MGC, the calendar must be submitted before invitations for membership are extended. All new member education events must end by midnight. No more than three hours per night may be used for new member events. Sleep-overs and lock-ins are prohibited. All new member education events must occur on campus unless approved. Initiation must be completed by week 9.
First Year Five Initiative (Implemented Fall 2012)
In order to help facilitate a healthy and safe introduction to college life for all Union College first year students, the Fraternity and Sorority community has adopted the “First Year Five” initiative as a standard social events practice for the start of the Fall term of each academic year. Specifically:
- First 2 Weeks: Fraternities and Sororities will not host social events with alcohol, on or off campus. All houses will be dry. This period coincides with the College-established recruitment window and guidelines (See “Dry Recruitment”)
- Weeks 3-5: Fraternities and Sororities may host registered Social Events with Alcohol, but they must be by invite only. This means that a “guest list” must be submitted along with the registration. In addition, fraternities and sororities may not invite first year students to parties during this period.
- After Week 5: First year students are permitted to attend all Social Events with Alcohol hosted after Week 5 of the Fall term, but they must be invited. This means that their name must appear on the guest list that is submitted at the time the event is being registered.
During this period, fraternity and sorority chapters are strongly encouraged to (a) host alternative events that do not include alcohol, AND (b) attend campus sponsored social activities or events.
Fraternity/Sorority Social Events with Alcohol
In addition to the requirements set forth under the Social Events with Alcohol Policy, for all Greek Social Events with Alcohol, the Greek organization is encouraged to comply with the Fraternal Information & Programming Group (FIPG) Risk Management Policy.