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Family Engagement

While at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, your student will encounter many opportunities to become involved outside of their classroom experience. Membership within a sorority or fraternity can be a positive experience that will last a lifetime! It is important that parents, guardians, and/or families be educated about the enriching experiences that your students will find by getting involved and how to get involved themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, membership in a sorority or fraternity offers a home away from home and encourages individual development within a smaller group of friends in the larger University environment. Sororities and fraternities support students that have a common set of values, including brotherhood/sisterhood, a sense of belonging, academic excellence, leadership development, diversity, a sense of community, philanthropy, and service.

While your student’s time in college will come to an end, membership in a sorority or fraternity lasts a lifetime. This lifelong bond encourages continued growth and involvement. As members of these organizations, students are offered the opportunity to develop as leaders, serve the local community and inter/national organizations, focus on academics, and their careers while networking with other members.

A member’s experience is what they put into it. Students have the ability to make their sorority or fraternity experience as involved as they would like! Specific commitments will vary depending on the chapter, however, most hold weekly meetings for new and active members, as well as ritual and philanthropy events throughout the semester. All members have the opportunity to attend a variety of activities to meet new people, learn about their organization, and develop leadership skills. Events are planned in advance so as to allow time for studying, work, and other commitments.

Most organizations have one-time expenses such as a new member and/or initiation fee. Recurring expenses can include chapter dues, which go toward chapter programming, operating expenses, brotherhood/sisterhood events, and socials. These dues could be based on monthly, semesterly, or yearly dues. If your student decides to live in the chapter’s facility, they would be responsible for paying for rent and a meal plan. The total cost and collection time period will typically vary depending on the chapter.

For more information, take a look at the Community Financial Breakdown.

The sorority and fraternity life community strives for academic excellence and improved scholastic achievement. Each chapter has established a required grade point average that each member must maintain in order to remain in good standing with the organization. Every chapter is held to a minimum average GPA of 2.50 or 2.75 depending on their council. Chapters also offer academic assistance to their members, providing study areas and peer tutoring. Every chapter understands that its members are students first and provide recognition to those who excel and improve their academic standing.

Take a look at our Academic and Membership Reports to learn more about what academics look like across our community.

Each of our organizations belongs to a governing council. Each governing council has their own recruitment or intake process. To learn more about those processes, take a look at the “How To Join” tab on the menu bar to the left. Most of these processes will include informational meetings, registrations, recruitment periods, expectations and requirements, and a new member process that can last two (2) days to eight (8) weeks based on the specific organization.

Hazing is not tolerated and directly violates our Code of Conduct and inter/national organizations policies. You can find more information about hazing on our Hazing Prevention Website.

UT Code of Conduct: SECTION 4.10 HAZING – Any intentional or reckless act, on or off University-controlled property, by one (1) student, acting alone or with others, which is directed against any other student, which endangers the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that student, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger their mental or physical health, safety, or welfare. “Hazing” does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization.

It’s never too late to get the conversation going.

As a parent or family member, you continue to be the primary influence in your student’s life. This is a great time to talk with your student about alcohol and consent. The Center for Health Education and Wellness’ “Start the Conversation” guides provide you with information and tools to help you prepare for these important conversations.

Start the Conversation Guides

Chapters 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, sororities and fraternities are directly advised by the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life. Staff, in coordination with chapter advisors and possibly housing corporations ran by alumni volunteers or inter/national headquarters staff, support and advise activities and programs of recognized organizations. Chapters are also accountable to state and local laws in addition to the policies of the university and their own inter/national headquarters.

Help your student find their fit! There are a lot of options and information about sororities and fraternities. Our goal is for every student to find their fit within our community. Asking questions, doing the research, and talking to members, alumni, and advisors can help your student find their home away from home. Taking a look at conduct history, leadership opportunities, financial costs, scholarships, and service projects can help narrow down the decision.

Here are some questions that you can ask your student while they are going through recruitment/intake:

  • What are the values of the organization and how do they align with your personal values?
  • Who have you connected with in the chapter? How so?
  • What are the expectations once you join the organization?
  • What is your plan to manage your time?
  • Does the chapter perform hands-on community service? Where at? Is that something you’ll enjoy?
  • How does the chapter benefit its members academically?
  • Does the chapter offer scholarships?
  • Does the chapter have a parents’ club?

Once your student decides to join an organization, being an active participant in their journey is very important. This can look like joining the chapter’s parents club, being a chapter advisor, asking questions about their experience, or learning about warning signs when it comes to high-risk behavior of college students such as alcohol, drugs, sexual misconduct, hazing, and mental health. Overall, make sure you are active in your student’s college journey by talking about their experiences, asking questions, and getting involved where you feel comfortable.

Involvement looks different for every parent or guardian, but joining the Tennessee Family Association, Family Advisory Council, a Chapter’s Parents Club, or attending UTK’s family weekend or a chapter’s family weekend are all great places to start or just learn more. Find out more information by clicking the Family Engagement icon on the right. Individual chapters and organizations will provide details on engagement opportunities.