Greek Life: What is Chapter?

By Lwilliams

Article by Melissa Pope

So, you've decided that you want to go Greek. For me personally, it was a decision that helped lead me to some of my best memories in college and truly great friends. But, going Greek isn't always easy. It’s important to understand that you will be expected to devote a lot of your time to your fraternity or sorority. From philanthropy events to socials, community service to fundraisers, there are so many activities and events members are asked to attend and/or organize. One very important time to block out on your schedule in college is for chapter meetings (or just “chapter” for short). Generally, these are formal meetings held once a week that typically last about an hour. Yes, formal — meaning all members should wear business-formal clothing. We like to call this pin attire, with a little nod to our special emblem. Every Greek organization has a representative symbol that can be displayed in many different forms, but the most special is in the form of a pin. It’s known as a chapter pin, and it must be worn during every formal chapter meeting. Alpha Chi Omega’s symbol is the lyre (we were founded as a musical sorority); every initiated member has a pin in the shape of that symbol and is required to wear it to every formal chapter. If she is not wearing her pin, she is asked either to go get it or to leave the meeting entirely. Word to the wise: DON’T LOSE YOUR PIN! (Also, it’s a good idea to take care of your pin, as it can be kind of expensive.) Anyway, during chapter, the house leaders (known as the Executive Board, or just exec for short) draw attention to important matters occurring in and out of the house. This may include house chores assigned to members for a given week, scheduled safety precautions (such as a fire inspection), when members should submit their grades for chapter house approval, other chapters’ philanthropy events, and more. In my experience, chapter is recognized as a requirement for all members to attend. However, even though it is required, chapter is worth attending even if it was just optional. It’s really the only time that everyone can come together and discuss important matters involving the entire Greek chapter. Also, an added bonus, that many people in one room for an extended amount of time can make for a pretty entertaining hour or two! Definitely a lot of laughs, that’s for sure. Something my sorority did to make chapter more fun was what we liked to call “little grins.” Throughout the meeting, a bowl is passed around along with little slips of paper. If someone has something funny to say, a story about an event that happened over the weekend, or wants to compliment someone, she can write it down on a slip of paper and put it in the bowl. At the end of the meeting, the chapter president reads them out loud, and most of the time they are absolutely hysterical! I’m not sure if this is something they have continued to do since I've graduated, but during my four years there it was definitely something that my sisters and I looked forward to! Actually, I would be surprised if they stopped doing it because it made chapter less mundane and more like a fun, bonding experience. Now, we all can expect to have busy schedules in college, and that’s fine. I do want to point out, though, that you should really do your best to avoid time conflicts with chapter. It can be challenging to get all the information about what was discussed without having attended the actual meeting. I suggest scheduling work, classes, birthday dinner celebrations, or anything else you may have outside of Greek life around these chapter meetings, or even for another night completely. Fortunately, most houses schedule chapter for the same day and time every week, so it’s much easier to remember and plan accordingly. Since I’m only one person and was a member of only one sorority, my advice may not 100 percent compare to every Greek chapter in the country. You may want to branch out and see what others are saying about Greek life on their college campuses, or you can share your own experiences in the comment section below. Also, be sure to check out the student reviews at You can even schedule a chat with a student (and admissions experts!) to get the inside scoop and all your college questions answered.