"It's like living in a home. . . Sororities are safe, much smaller than a residence hall, and less limiting than an apartment. You get to live with your best friends and you have a common bond." -- Kristina Alvarado, president of the College Panhellenic Association


Fraternities and sororities have played an important role at Cal since the earliest days of the University-long before residence halls were built. They continue to provide housing, social life, and a slew of activities.

Kristina Alvarado, president of the College Panhellenic Association, which governs sororities, lived in a residence hall her first year, an apartment her second, and her last two years in the Sigma Kappa sorority house.

"It's like living in a home," she says of sorority-living. "Sororities are safe, much smaller than a residence hall, and less limiting than an apartment. You get to live with your best friends and you have a common bond. The atmosphere is energizing and the locations are great, so close to campus."

Professional cooks prepare the meals, and a kitchen is available to "sisters" as well.

Doug Hedenkamp, president of the Interfraternity Council and a member of Sigma Chi, points out that fraternities are reasonably priced, provide great social and leadership opportunities (brothers manage their own houses), and are a place where "you'll make the best friends of your life."

Currently there are 13 sororities, averaging 50 members each, and 37 fraternities, averaging 25 members each. In addition, there are non-residential African-American sororities and fraternities.

Most chapters offer the same academic support services as residence halls: quiet study areas, tutoring, libraries, exam files. (Sorority GPAs are consistently above the all-campus GPA). They also offer the same type of educational workshops, on subjects like rape prevention/sexual assault, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol abuse, multicultural awareness, and eating disorders.

Cost for room and board is generally less than the residence halls. For the '96-'97 academic year, residence hall room & board ranged from $6,405 to $8,885. Room & board in fraternities and sororities, including dues, ranged from $5,000 to $6,000. Pledging and first-year dues and fees for non-residents were $1,504. Dues for "live-out" members were $1,245, which includes some meals.

Contrary to stereotype, many "Greeks" hold jobs and receive financial aid or chapter scholarships.

Students can join a fraternity or sorority any time, but most do during "rush" weeks at the beginning of each semester-a rash of social events that give prospective members and chapters a chance to check each other out. At the end of rush week, chapters offer "bids" to the students they would like to have as members.

Students often join a sorority or fraternity their freshman year, while living in a residence hall, then move into their chapter house for sophomore and junior years (many chapters have a two-year residence requirement).

Hazing is prohibited in all Greek organizations and alcohol is prohibited in all sororities. Sigma Nu declared itself the first "substance-free" fraternity at Berkeley this fall, banning alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs. Several more fraternities are considering following suit. A student-run Judicial Committee hears cases of violations of the Greek Code of Conduct and imposes sanctions.

As in the co-ops, each chapter is responsible for the functioning of its house. All sororities have a paid resident house director. Live-in members get rooms based on points they have earned in service to the house, the Greek system, and the University.

Chapters field intramural teams in most sports and contribute both money and time to various philanthropic and campus/community service programs.

Most fraternities and sororities are well located in attractive buildings southeast of campus in the eight blocks bounded by College, Prospect, Bancroft, and Dwight.

For more information:

Sororities: (510) 642-5709
Fraternities: (510) 642-8067
African-American Greek organizations: (510) 642-7950.

 [Spring 97]
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Copyright (c) 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
Last Modified 5/30/97. JBC