Local versus national sororities: the difference

Juliann Guiffre


The main difference that sets Local and National Greek organizations apart is one simple fact: for local sororities and fraternities, they are the only of their kind. For National, they have other chapters in colleges all across the country.

According to McDaniel College students, this can be both a benefit and a drawback. Jessie Largent, senior and vice president of Alpha Nu Omega (Local), loves that “if you talk to another Omega, you know she went here and you can talk to her about the campus. We just had our 30 year reunion, and when I talked to some of the alumni, I felt like they are us, just 20 years older.”

Abby Walker, member of Phi Alpha Mu, likes the fact that they are unique, and think it provides a great connection with alumni. “We have over 1,000 wonderful alumni, who are all really supportive,” she said.

On the other hand, the benefit of being National is the increased amount of alumni, which provides for better networking opportunities. “I have sisters all around this country,” said Elyse Sparks, junior and vice president of Phi Mu. “I can search ‘Phi Mu’ on Facebook and find any of my sisters. I actually did that once and found a girl I went to middle school with that had moved to Tennessee and joined Phi Mu at TSU!”

Jordon Doss, junior and president of Alpha Sigma Phi, loves being able to wear his letters and run into brothers of all different ages. “They will recognize you as a brother and then ask about your chapter, tell you about theirs and exchange stories. It is an instant connection,” he said.

Other differences between the two are the price of dues and the governing body concerning the constitution and budget, philanthropy, and membership quota. National organizations have a quota of 50 members; locals can stay smaller.

According to Doss, new members pay a pledge fee of $99, an initiation fee $250, and then a lifetime membership fee of $250. “The most expensive thing is insurance but we can reduce that cost by keeping our GPA up, living on a substance free floor, attending national events, and just staying out of trouble in general,” said Doss, who added that he believes his fraternity has the lowest dues on campus.

Largent enjoys the fact that her local sorority governs themselves. They can change their constitution when they deem necessary, which helps them stay current, and they decide their own budget. Local organizations also do not have a set philanthropy, or one organization that National chapters raise money for. This way, Largent says, they can do more local service and pick the projects that are important to them.

“One of our members, Lee Oliver, wanted to raise money for the Leukemia Society, in honor of a friend’s sister that had Leukemia,” said Largent. So the sorority became involved with the Lacrosse team’s Terror Trot fundraiser.

Doss finds the national fraternity very helpful, especially in order to provide insurance and assistance to the chapters. “They offer programs that send a national representative to our campus to see how we’re doing and help us to improve. They also just helped us to set up an endowment fund for our chapter…it will grow over the years and gather interest that we can then put towards education needs of the chapter,” he said.

If a local organization runs into trouble, it is the school’s administrative body that deems what punishment is necessary. If a national organization does the same, a national representative comes in to talk to the school.

“The college is in control of the local group,” said Amanda Rose, who was the Assistant Director of College Activities at McDaniel for 5 ½ years. “When a national group is investigated the Headquarters for that group is notified of the situation. Consequences depend on the violations,” she said.

These could include suspension of certain privileges like wearing letters, community service, alcohol or hazing education, re-vamping the groups new member education program, among others (More thoroughly explained in article on investigation of organizations).

Organizations may switch from Local to National, and this requires researching all possible sororities/fraternities and finding the one that fits the group best. Then the group would apply to have a colony established, and if everything goes smoothly during a trial period, then the colony is made into a chapter.

McDaniel College has six National Greek organizations – Alpha Sigma Phi, Kappa Delta Rho, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Sigma, Phi Mu, and Phi Sigma Sigma. Local organizations on the Hill include Alpha Nu Omega, Alpha Gamma Tau, and Phi Alpha Mu.