Information for Parents

Sending a child to college can be a challenging and stressful time in a parent’s life. While at Johns Hopkins University, your student will encounter many opportunities to become involved outside of his or her classroom experience. It is important that parents and guardians be educated about the enriching experience that your student will find by being involved in a fraternity or sorority at Johns Hopkins.

Why should your student join a fraternity or sorority?

Membership in a fraternity or sorority is a life-changing experience for the men and women who choose to join. Chapter members develop a unique bond of brotherhood and sisterhood while sharing their values and goals. These friendships last beyond the collegiate years and are nurtured by alumni activities and networking programs that provide opportunities for continued camaraderie, service, and personal development.

  • The fraternity and sorority community offers a home away from home and encourages individual development within a smaller group of friends in the larger university environment.
  • Fraternities and sororities supports students that espouse a common set of values, including brotherhood/sisterhood, academic excellence, character/leadership development, a sense of community, philanthropy and service.
  • When your student’s college experience is finished, his or her fraternity or sorority affiliation continues for a lifetime. This lifelong bond encourages continued involvement in the organization at the campus level and across the nation.
  • Fraternities and sororities are values-based organizations and are committed to worthwhile endeavors. Members are expected to maintain the high standards set by their national organization, the university, and their chapter.

Fraternity or sorority life can provide your student with an invaluable experience during his or her time at Johns Hopkins University. Fraternity and Sorority Life is a Johns Hopkins tradition dating to 1877 when the first national fraternity was founded on campus. Today, approximately 1,000 undergraduates are members of 12 fraternities and 9 sororities.

What is my role as a parent?

Take time to find out more about the fraternity and sorority community at Johns Hopkins and the chapter your student is joining. Review our checklist for assessing chapters. Visit the chapter and websites of the inter/national organization to find out what they do and what they are about. Review new member manuals and printed materials provided to your student; rarely is new member material secret. Ask to contact the chapter’s alumni advisor to learn about his or her involvement with the chapter. Ask about activities and events that involve parents and participate in them. When you visit campus, meet your student’s fellow members and, if possible, their parents. In short, be supportive, be involved, and ask questions.

Does being in a fraternity or sorority take a lot of time?

Students can make their experience as extensive as they might like. Some members spend many hours a week with their chapters participating in intramural athletics, holding an executive office, or attending social functions while others may limit their time to chapter meetings and events. Chapters normally have a weekly membership meeting, meetings for new members, and meetings for the executive board. During their first semester, new members attend a variety of activities to meet other chapter members, learn about the organization’s history and values, and develop leadership skills. These events are planned in advance to allow members time for studying, involvement in other organizations, work, and other activities.

Who is actually in charge of the fraternity or sorority?

Fraternities and sororities are self-governing student organizations; this is a key element in each member’s personal development and learning to function as part of a team. Students serve as officers of the organization, develop the standards under which they operate, and hold members accountable to reaching chapter goals and objectives. That being said, fraternities and sororities at Johns Hopkins are directly advised by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. FSL staff, in coordination with local alumni advisors and international and national headquarters, support and advise activities and programs of recognized fraternities and sororities. Chapters are also accountable to state and local laws in addition to the policies of the university and those of their inter/national organization.

My son or daughter will make friends in his/her residence hall and classes. What would be different about fraternity/sorority friends?

Membership in a fraternity or sorority is a living and learning experience with shared values and objectives. Members learn to work together to develop and accomplish group goals. A common bond of brotherhood/sisterhood is developed among chapter members — a bond that extends to all who share the same heritage, traditions and ritual and who wear the same badge. These friendships last beyond the college years and are nurtured by alumni activities and networking programs that provide opportunities for continued camaraderie, service, and personal development.

What are the costs associated with joining a fraternity or sorority?

For most groups, one-time expenses include the new member and/or initiation fees and possibly the purchase of fraternity/sorority pins or badges. Recurring expenses (annually or semesterly) include chapter or social dues, headquarters fees, and liability insurance payments. Dues payments go toward social events, chapter programming, and operating expenses. The overall total may vary from group to group. Be sure to advise your student to ask about the costs associated with joining a particular group before joining.

What is Johns Hopkins University’s stance on hazing?

Johns Hopkins seeks to promote a safe environment in which students may participate without compromising their health, safety, or welfare. All student organizations are accountable to policies of the Undergraduate Student Handbook. View our hazing information page for more.

However, the University cannot address issues they do not know about. If you suspect your son or daughter is being hazed, please contact us immediately at 410-516-8209 or ofsl@jhu.edu. Please provide as much information as you can(i.e. who, what, where, when, how) so we have as a place to begin an investigation. A general complaint without divulging your son’s/daughter’s fraternity or sorority is not helpful.

Will my student’s grades suffer if they join?

Fraternity and sorority grades at Johns Hopkins are typically on par with the rest of the university. In general, sororities are more likely to surpass both the all-campus and the all-women’s grade point average. Most fraternity chapters are at or above the all-campus and the all-men’s grade point average. Please remember that these are averages; academic performance of individual members, of course, will vary. To see chapter grade rankings from the most recent semester, please view the “Academic Excellence” section of our Membership Engagement page.

Many fraternities and sororities have academic achievement as a core value. Some have GPA requirements for joining and remaining in good standing. Chapters typically elect a scholarship chair to coordinate recognition activities for high achievers and to seek help for members who struggle. Upperclassmen also serve as mentors and as a resource for underclassmen in choosing classes, studying, and navigating the campus and the community.