Welcome to Whitman College! You are about to begin a four-year adventure that will surely be filled with new people and new experiences that we refer to as the "Whitman experience." For many men, their "Whitman experience" includes membership in one of our four fraternities. We believe that becoming a member of a Greek organization provides you with a number of opportunities that assist in making your college years as educational and fulfilling as possible.
Membership in a fraternity provides you with academic support, leadership development opportunities, community service involvement, networking, mentoring and life-long friendships. It also provides men with an opportunity for self-governance; living in and managing the chapter house is like operating a small hotel. There are few other organizations that offer such incredible living and learning opportunities for young men.
Fraternity rush is an opportunity for new students to take a close look at the four fraternities at Whitman College and to ask questions regarding fraternity life. It is an informal process of meeting and getting acquainted with members in each chapter. Rush is open to all male students on campus and there is no cost to participate. The fraternities provide no alcohol to rush participants. In addition to the open houses and the all-campus parties, rush is also about talking one-on one with current members. This often happens through meeting for lunch, hanging out on Ankeny, playing frisbee, etc. Ultimately, rush is about meeting people, beginning to make friends and deciding if Greek life is right for you.
1. What fraternities are available on the Whitman campus?
There are four national fraternities with chapters on the Whitman campus including Beta Theta Pi, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi and Tau Kappa Epsilon.
2. How much does fraternity membership cost?
Please refer to the section entitled "costs" to learn about the costs of fraternity membership..
3. When do you move into the fraternity house?
All first-year men must remain in a residence hall during their first year on campus. Sophomore members of the fraternity move into the house during the fall. Most members live-in the chapter house for two years and some live-in for all three years.
4. What do the members enjoy about being in a fraternity?
Most men appreciate the friendships they share with a group of supportive men. There are also opportunities for academic assistance, leadership, community service, athletic competitions and networking. The friendships you create within your fraternity will last a lifetime!
5. Do Greek men have friends outside their individual fraternities?
Absolutely! Since the Greek men do not move into the chapter house until their sophomore year, they make strong friendships with the students who live in their first-year residence hall. Due to the small size of Whitman, it is easy (and encouraged) to maintain a diversity of friendships and keep in contact with friends.
6. What is the time commitment to a fraternity during the first semester?
During your first semester, you will have weekly meetings with the other new members to learn fraternity history, songs, traditions and meet the upper-class members. New members are invited to participate in scholarship programs, philanthropy projects and social events. The Greek men understand that the first semester at college is an enormous adjustment and they are here to support you. Keep in mind that academics are always the top priority of the fraternities and no fraternity meeting or activity comes before academic commitments.
7. What about drinking?
In each fraternity, there are men who drink and men who do not drink. This is a personal choice and you will not be pressured in either direction.
8. What about hazing?
The College, the Interfraternity Council and each of the four fraternities strictly forbid hazing activities.
Fraternity members wrote the following statements about fraternity life. It is their hope that this information will help you better understand the fraternities at Whitman College.
People often have the conception that Greek life and academic life are quite distinct from one another. Nationwide, there is good reason for this belief. At Whitman, however, fraternity life supports and complements the scholastic aspect of student life.
The members of each house provide the most important component of academic advantage within the Greek system. Within fraternity life, people of different ages and experiences are grouped together. This creates an environment that fosters its own tutorial system. Chapters use the educational experiences of their members in many ways. One way is by listing the major fields of study of members, so that a student knows who to ask if he has any questions.
Experienced students have the opportunity to act as tutors. Having older friends who have already struggled through the same classes and professors is a big help to younger students. Members who tutor give insight on both what and how to study. They provide encouragement, innovative study methods and a different perspective.
A fraternity's academic success is based on the individual academic achievement of its members, so each chapter has programs to encourage continued success. In some chapters, scholarship money is given to the student with the highest grade point average in his class. During weekly meetings most chapters announce members' scholastic excellence or improvement, and usually a small award is given. Each fraternity traditionally has a scholarship dinner each semester in which it recognizes the outstanding academic performance of its members. Finally, chapters regularly invite faculty members to participate in the scholarship dinners and chapter events. Faculty members are also invited to each house to lead forums and discussions on current issues. The combination of academic recognition and faculty involvement creates an environment that is both supportive of and conducive to scholastic achievement.
Whitman College and the Greek system share a common objective: fostering the intellectual growth and development of each student. Both the college and the fraternity system agree that the essential criterion for the growth of the individual lies in the education of the individual.
The most important part of fraternity life is friendship. The fraternity system naturally creates a strong bond between members. A common misconception among freshmen is that by joining a fraternity you are "buying friends." Nothing could be further from the truth. Students join a fraternity, first and foremost, because they like the brothers they meet during rush. They pledge a chapter because the members of that chapter are the type of guys that they feel comfortable with. Each chapter has its own character and each rushee gravitates toward the chapter that best fits him. Thus, the members in each chapter share common interests and goals from the start.
Eating together, hanging out and cramming for tests are what really strengthens friendships. It's the crazy times shared while living with your brothers that brings you closer. The late-night raids on the kitchen, sliding down the stairs on a cardboard box, playing pong on a Saturday evening, or pulling all-nighters for a core test -- these are the times you will remember years from now and these are the friends you will keep in touch with.
Because fraternity members share common interests, live together and stay in daily contact with each other throughout their college years, they have a unique opportunity to create long-lasting friendships. Whereas very few non-Greek students can live together in residence halls as upper classmen, fraternity members have the opportunity to stay together for three years at Whitman. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. Life-long friendships are most visible when forty-, fifty-, and sixty-year-old alumni return to retell their fraternity experiences. The majority of these alumni remain in contact with their fraternity brothers.
Another aspect of friendship that is found in fraternity life is the relationship between older and younger members. There is a great deal of friendship between classes. Older members often take the role of mentor. Upperclassmen help underclassmen with studying and give advice on everything from the best places to watch a sunset to surviving the trials of the college experience. A friend who can show you the way through the world after high school is an important one. The support you receive from your fraternity brothers is essential. Not only are they the guys you party with, they are the people who can help you when life is not going so well.
Although members of each fraternity chapter develop especially close ties, friendships made outside of the fraternity are just as important. Whitman College is small, which means everyone is your neighbor. Unlike large universities, the Greek system at Whitman does not become a student's total identity. When 30-35 percent of the school is Greek there cannot exist any of the elitism that might be found at larger schools. Members in each fraternity have friends in other chapters and friends who chose not to be Greek. Whitman is small enough that students know each other regardless of whether they are Greek or what house they live in.
The Whitman College Greek system provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to enhance their leadership abilities. Each fraternity has a unique self-governing structure that provides leaders with hands-on experience in several important areas. Student leaders are responsible for the physical maintenance of the chapter house and coordinating different activities involving service projects, social interaction and scholarship. The practical, real world experience gained from these positions is invaluable. For example, chapter treasurers often manage budgets nearing $100,000. In a practical sense, this responsibility is similar to running a small hotel. Being responsible for creating a budget, collecting dues and paying bills is an excellent experience and translates into concrete skills valued by future employers. Leadership opportunities range from positions such as chapter president to song leader to committee member. There is a place for each individual leader's particular talents to shine.
The Greek system also provides the campus and community with many strong leaders. Fraternity members in the different houses have tremendous success in campus leadership positions. Wherever there is an opportunity for student involvement and leadership, you will find a member of the Whitman College Greek system. Greek leadership extends into the Walla Walla community as well. Members organize and participate in several philanthropies and other public activities that range from fund raising for Special Olympics and Child Abuse Prevention to highway cleanup programs and Youth Soccer. The opportunities for young leaders are endless when they join a fraternity.
One reason for the birth of fraternities was the desire of young men to improve their communities. It is unlikely that the public believes this to be the case on the college campus today, but at Whitman there is no doubt as to whether this remains true. Our Greek system actively involves itself in philanthropy in the Walla Walla community, and it is an important part of the fraternity experience. Philanthropy is a very rewarding element of the fraternity experience.
Members take a lot of pride in their public service and helping those in need contributes to their own feelings of self-worth. In addition, it gives them an excellent opportunity to bond with their brothers, as they work together on the projects they undertake. At times, chapters organize philanthropies with sororities, making the work even more fun. One example of this is the Adopt-a-Highway litter control program. Chapters frequently team up to collect the trash along designated sections of Highway 12, which passes through Walla Walla.
Although many of our members enter college with a sense of the importance of public service, the chapter certainly fosters this in those who do not. Even members who are reluctant at first usually have a great time after a little encouragement. The benefits of this are obvious: fraternity men graduate with a strong feeling of responsibility toward their community. There are many different philanthropic activities sponsored by Whitman Greeks. Some of the groups who benefit from our work include Children's Miracle Network, the municipal Parks and Recreation Department, American Red Cross, Walla Walla State Penitentiary, Youth Soccer and the Alzheimer's Foundation. Projects range from an interstate fund raising fun run to card games at the local Oddfellows home, from giving blood to weeding and removing debris from local parks.
One way many Greek students relieve the stress of school is through participation in athletics. Whether it is a pick-up game of basketball behind a fraternity house or intramural flag football, the Greek system offers great opportunities to get sweaty and have fun. The Greek system also acts as a support system for athletics. If a fraternity brother is on a team, the rest of the chapter often goes to games to show their support. It is great to have guys on hand when you make a basket or score a goal.
Intramurals are an important part of Greek life. Sports such as basketball, volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee all have intramural seasons. The great part about intramurals (IMs) is that you don't have to be a varsity high school quarterback to enjoy flag football. Chapter members usually gather up a team and give it their best. IMs provide an opportunity for those not as athletically inclined to get involved.
For those who desire a more intense athletic experience, varsity sports are important. Members from every chapter participate in some type of varsity sport, and while Greek members comprise only 30-35 percent of the campus, they account for over 60 percent of all athletic teams at Whitman. Every team has Greek members on its roster.
After reading a 400-page novel for English or finishing a Chemistry lab, it's time to relax. Fortunately, the Greek system provides ample opportunity for fun. Because so much of a Whitman student's life is spent studying, the hours spent relaxing with friends are precious. Obviously it's important to release the built-up stress caused by the everyday pressures of school. The weekly social scene at Whitman is full. There are usually functions (a fancy name for parties) on the weekend, and occasionally less organized "study breaks" on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
The Greek social system at Whitman, as its fraternity members are quick to point out, is different from its counterparts at state schools. The functions are not out of control. Although students blowing off steam after a hard week can get a little rowdy, the functions are always regulated, with sober roamers and door guards as well as a professional security guard (paid for by the fraternities) who patrols the area around the houses. These parties are a time to enjoy the company of friends and to meet new ones. Greek week--a week in which all houses compete in games and cooperate in a philanthropy--always ends with a popular, all-Greek party complete with a BBQ, a lip-synch contest and a band.
While Greeks and non-Greeks alike enjoy an active social life outside of the fraternities, functions at the houses have definite advantages. For one thing, they gather larger groups of people, making a party more fun thanks to the diverse personalities. Another plus is that social chairs organize interesting functions based on creative themes. Houses are decorated in accordance with the theme of the night and students dress for the occasion. Theme examples include the 1970s, rasta, golf, casino, beach and barn parties. A third advantage is the simple fact that fraternity houses are better equipped for social activities. Houses have ping-pong and pool tables, space for dances and offer live entertainment for some functions.
In addition to weekly functions, all fraternities and sororities sponsor formal dances. Some dances are held in Walla Walla, while others take place in more exotic resorts at exciting locations. Formal dances and dinners give students an opportunity to shed the usual grubby study-wear and put on elegant apparel. These are times that allow transcendence of the normal routine of college life. Almost all the formal dances at Whitman are sponsored by the Greek system.
Chapters organize all sorts of activities besides those mentioned above, most of which are great opportunities for more informal fun. Chapter retreats are an excellent example. Pledge classes and the fraternity as a whole often plan weekend excursions, which usually means 15 to 40 guys renting Whitman's Mill Creek cabin and spending a night or two relaxing.
Aside from the planned activities, perhaps the most important benefit of the Greek system is just hanging out with a couple of close friends. There is never a dull moment when you are part of a fraternity.
If you decide that you are interested in a fraternity, you go through a period of "pledgeship." Usually a semester, this is a time when you get to know the fraternity as it gets to know you. It is during this period when you learn about the chapter and get better acquainted with the members.
There are many misconceptions about pledgeship. No fraternity at Whitman practices hazing. All the myths about fraternity members making the pledges submit to demeaning or dangerous activities are untrue. The Whitman Greek experience is a positive one from start to finish. We believe that pledgeship is a time for the fraternity and the pledges to get familiar, not a time for degradation. It's also important to understand that by pledging a chapter you are not signing your life on the dotted line. Pledgeship is not final. During pledgeship, you get to know the history of your chapter and its traditions. You get to better understand its character and personality. If you ever feel that it's not for you; you simply discontinue the pledgeship. Because freshmen must remain in the residence halls for one full year, new members do not move into the fraternity houses immediately after they pledge.
Pledgeship is a fun time when you bond with your pledge class and meet many new people. You are taught about life in your particular chapter. Each fraternity has some type of "pledge father" program where each pledge chooses a member of the chapter to adopt him as a "pledge son." This person becomes a mentor. Each fraternity also organizes activities like retreats, talent shows, pledge father-son gift exchanges, and "fireside" chats. Pledge classes are responsible for group projects that bring everyone together. These often include philanthropies, house improvements and elaborate social functions.
Most people would agree that life inside the fraternity house is a crucial element of Greek involvement. Living in a fraternity house allows you to take full advantage of the camaraderie provided by numerous retreats, discussions, group projects and general crazy behavior which occurs when a bunch of college guys live together. A major benefit enjoyed by those living in Greek houses is the freedom to make adult decisions in a supportive and tolerant environment. The chapters do not have officially appointed resident directors or student advisors. Each member of the chapter views it as his responsibility to ensure the happiness and welfare of the group as a whole, and to be available for sympathy and advice when college life becomes a little trying. In addition, the younger members who choose to live in the fraternity house generally find themselves becoming closer to numerous upperclassmen that they would not have known so well otherwise.
Among the most common concerns of entering freshmen is the question of friendship. Many new students wonder, "Will I be isolated from my friends if I join a fraternity? Will living in a house jeopardize my social life in a resident hall?" The answer to both of these questions is an unequivocal "No." Because Whitman is a small, tightly knit community, fraternity members maintain close contact with non-Greek friends throughout the campus. Living in a fraternity house in no way limits the ties you will have with your classmates or sectionmates in the residence hall. Greek organizations are structured in such a way that friendships do not divide, but instead multiply.
From a practical standpoint, most of the fraternity houses cost less than the residence halls. They collect their dues and chapter fees by the semester to remain financially self-sufficient. Fraternity houses are able to set their own fees for room and board because they operate independently of the campus housing program. Such an arrangement allows the chapters to work out special payment plans to meet the individual needs of their members.
However, with independence comes responsibility. Nowhere on campus can you find an atmosphere more conducive to learning self-discipline and responsibility than in a fraternity house. Fraternities at Whitman accommodate anywhere from 25 to 50 students, each of whose contributions to his particular house is vital. Members of a fraternity work hard to create an enjoyable and productive living environment, and feelings of brotherhood are reinforced by working together toward the general upkeep of the house.
Since the quality of academics is obviously your primary reason for seeking a Whitman education, our fraternities have adopted various measures to create the right balance between a student's studies and his social life. Though fraternities at many large state schools have been stigmatized for their "party house" image, Greeks at Whitman have successfully combated this problem by keeping the noise low during the school week and setting aside designated study areas within the house. Living in a fraternity house will not affect either the quality or the amount of study time expected by its members. There's nothing better than living with a group of hard-working and hard-playing brothers.
Alumni are an important part of any fraternity and many Greek alumni maintain contact with the active chapter long after they graduate from college. One way that alumni stay involved with the chapter is by volunteering their time and talents to serve as advisors to the chapter officers. Alumni also contribute money to assist with large, general maintenance projects such as new roofs or fire-safety improvements to keep the houses operating smoothly.
The fact that they contribute so much year after year illustrates two important points about alumni fraternity members. One, their fraternity experience must have been positive, and two, they must be financially successful.
The question of success after college is becoming an increasingly big concern for undergraduate students. In today's job market, many highly educated people are unable to find good jobs related to their field of study. Instead of having the successful continuous careers that were once taken for granted in the United States, students are now graduating and taking whatever job they can find. When they do develop a profession, it is often not the one to which they were initially inclined. Because of this we read shocking statistics telling us that the average American changes careers half a dozen times!
Of course, a Whitman education goes a long way toward alleviating this problem. But although Whitties are generally well prepared for life after school, there are definite advantages to graduating as a member of a Greek organization.
The most obvious of these is the networking that occurs between graduates of the same fraternity. Chapters have quite a bit of history and tradition, creating a common thread that connects all alumni, whether or not they were active members at the same time. Every year, visiting alumni tell the current members stories about complete strangers going out of their way to help them out, particularly by giving them a job because they found out the potential hire was in the same fraternity. The connection binding every single fraternity man to his brothers, even those decades before, is surprisingly real. Regardless of whether new acquaintances grow to become good friends, they are from the same Greek organization, they will go to great lengths to help each other. Even when they are from different chapters, just the fact that they were Greek is enough to connect in a personal way because they share a common experience.
Another advantage of being Greek is that one develops a strong bond with the college itself. This does not mean that non-Greeks do not share a bond with Whitman, but Greek alumni seem to have a stronger sense of loyalty and connection to their alma mater. For example, Greek alumni return for Whitman reunions in larger numbers than non-Greeks. Greek alumni also donate their time and talents to serve on College governing boards including the Board of Trustees and the Overseers. Greek support and loyalty can also be seen through financial contributions. Eighty-four percent of Greek alumni donate money to Whitman compared with 63% of non-Greek alumni. We are proud of the fact that ties to Whitman are enhanced through Greek involvement and are kept strong long after graduation day.
Any male student enrolled at Whitman College is invited to participate in fraternity rush. There is no sign-up or fee required to participate. How do you let a fraternity know you are interested in exploring fraternity life?
• Each fraternity will have a booth at the Student Activities Fair on Monday, September 1st. You can talk with the fraternity men at each booth and indicate your interest in fraternity rush.
• You can attend the open house each fraternity will host for the various residence halls.
• You can wander over to the fraternity houses and meet the members during the days and evening hours when the fraternity houses are open.
The fraternity rush process is casual and informal. The fraternity men are happy to meet you, answer your questions and talk with you about their experiences as fraternity members.
During the summer, male students who are new to Whitman College will receive information from the fraternities about fraternity life. Often, the fraternities host summer rush events in areas such as Seattle and Portland. New students who live in these areas are invited to attend these functions.
The informal rush period begins Thursday August 27, 2009 at 9:00 am. During this time, fraternities members will invite non-affiliated men to join them for meals, play frisbee on Ankeny, hang-out, talk and get to know each other. During informal rush, each fraternity will also host a formal dinner and invite perspective members to attend.
The formal rush period begins Friday, September 11, 2009, and concludes Wednesday, September 23rd. During this time, each fraternity will have the opportunity to host an event for each of the three residence halls: Lyman, Anderson, and Jewett. Rushees are also allowed to visit and tour the fraternities during the evening hours. In addition, each fraternity will hold one all-campus function which potential new members are encouraged to attend.
On Monday, September 21, 2009, IFC will place fraternity bids in student mailboxes in the Reid Campus Center Post Office. On Wednesday evening, rushees may go the fraternity house of their choice to accept a bid.
ACTIVE MEMBER: someone who has been initiated into his chapter
ALUMNUS: any initiated member of a fraternity who has graduated or left college prior to graduation
ALUMNI: the plural form of alumnus for men or a combination of men and women
BID: an invitation extended from a fraternity to a potential new member to join the fraternity
CHAPTER: group of collegians, officially chartered and recognized at a given college or university
FORMAL RUSH: two weeks in September where the four Whitman fraternities recruit new members
FOUNDER: one who originates or establishes a fraternity or sorority
GREEK: term applied to all sororities and fraternities
HAZING: an activity of physical or psychological abuse that is degrading or humiliating to another person. Hazing does not encourage respect for others and is prohibited by Whitman College, the IFC and the fraternity chapters
INITIATE: a man who has undergone the initiation ceremony into a fraternity
INTERFRATERNITY COUNCIL: an organization consisting of 4 nationally recognized fraternities established to promote the Greek system and maintain relations among the fraternities
LEGACY: a son, brother, or grandson of an initiated member of a fraternity
NEW MEMBER: a man who accepts a bid from a fraternity
PANHELLENIC ASSOCIATION: the governing body of sororities
PHILANTHROPY: active efforts to promote human welfare in a variety of ways
RITUAL: the ceremonies celebrated and conducted by every chapter; the secret rites to membership
RUSHEE: a man not affiliated with any fraternity participating in formal rush
First-year students who pledge a fraternity remain in a residence hall for the entire year. During this time, membership dues pay for pledging and initiation fees and pledge program events such as retreats, philanthropy projects and social events. New member costs range from $235-$500 during the first year.
As sophomores, most fraternity members move into the chapter house. Fraternity members who live in the chapter house pay a room and board charge each semester that includes all fraternity fees. The range on fraternity room and board costs is $2,800-$3,280 per semester. As a comparison, the room and board cost for Whitman College is $3,015-$3,935 per semester, depending on the type of room and meal plan selected.
Sophomore students who do not live in the chapter house as well as older members who live off-campus pay a live-out fee each semester. This fee pays for basic fraternity expenses such as national dues. In addition, it provides live-out members with an opportunity to eat a few meals at the chapter house each week. Live-out fees range from $325-$475 per semester.
Take a moment and think about what you "know" regarding Greek life and your source for knowing it. Is it primarily from watching movies like "Legally Blonde" or "Revenge of the Nerds?" Is it from a family member or friend who has gone through "rush" at a large university? Is it from some of the people you have met on the Whitman campus who have filled you in on the "stereotype" of each fraternity and sorority?
Whitman College sets very high expectations for the Greek organizations on campus and even if we had any desire to be like Animal House (which we do not), the College would not tolerate it. The Student Handbook outlines the college's expectations for Fraternities and Sororities check it out! We are about academics, leadership, involvement, community service, brotherhood and having active social lives.
The recruitment process at Whitman is unlike that of large universities and perhaps even unlike other small colleges. You do not have to look a certain way, dress a certain way or act a certain way to become a member of a fraternity. You just have to be yourself, participate in rush, enjoy meeting lots of new people and be open to each of the four fraternities.
Not everyone on the Whitman campus is a fan of the Greek system. Most students not affiliated with the Greek system chose not to join a group because Greek life did not fit their lifestyle. They are not against the Greek system; it is just not for them. A small minority of students actually dislikes the Greek system and is sometimes very vocal in denouncing it to new students. Our hope is that you will form your own opinion of the Greek system based on your experience with it and not be swayed by either the positive or negative opinions of other students. Greek life may be an excellent choice for you and we encourage you to participate in the rush process.