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The Ultimate Sorority Glossary, M-P | mazi + zo sorority jewelry

Never mind the Greek, Sorority speak is a whole other language!

Do you know what an MRABA or pomping is? Or why we don't use the term "pledge" anymore?

Article: The Ultimate Sorority Glossary: M-P


The Ultimate Sorority Glossary: M-P

The Machine: "The Machine" at the University of Alabama is a secret power player behind campus politics. Officially called Theta Nu Epsilon, it’s a tight-knit group of fraternity and sorority members who pretty much run the show when it comes to SGA elections and major campus decisions. Started back in 1914, The Machine works in the shadows, and its members have some serious influence, shaping decisions that impact all students. It’s all about tradition, strategic moves, and holding power, making it this unseen yet incredibly powerful force in the university’s social and political scene.

Despite the secrecy, The Machine's existence is confirmed through a mix of historical evidence, leaked information, and its noticeable impact on campus politics. Former members have occasionally spoken out, and incidents over the years, like leaked documents or unusual voting patterns, have hinted at its operations. 


Member: a person who has been formally initiated into the sorority. 

Member Class (MC): refers to a group of new members who join a sorority at the same time. These are the sisters who go through initiation together, bond over late-night study sessions, and become your close-knit family within the chapter. This used to be called a Pledge Class.

Merch: The sorority-branded apparel and accessories that members wear to represent their chapter. This includes items like hoodies, T-shirts, hats, and water bottles, all customized with the sorority's letters, symbols, and colors. Merch helps build unity among members and promotes the sorority's identity on campus.

Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement (MRABA): A critical one-year binding commitment signed by a potential new member (PNM) at the conclusion of the recruitment process. After the PNM ranks their membership preferences on a preference card or form, they sign an MRABA. By signing it they agree to accept a bid from any chapter they include in that form. Should they receive a bid from a listed sorority and decline it, they are bound by the agreement for one year or until the next primary recruitment period, prohibiting them from accepting a bid from any other organization during this time. However, if a PNM signs an MRABA and does not receive a bid, they remain eligible for continuous open bidding or snap bidding. 

Mixer: A closed party between a fraternity and sorority where only members can attend. 

National: the overarching organization that governs and supports all chapters of a sorority across the country and internationally. This includes providing standardized policies, leadership training, and resources to ensure each chapter upholds the sorority's values and mission. National sets the framework for sisterhood, philanthropy, and academic excellence, while also offering guidance and support to local chapters for consistent and cohesive operations nationwide.

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): The umbrella organization that represents 26 national and international women's sororities. It plays a crucial role in advocating for the interests of these sororities in discussions with colleges, universities, and other organizations. The NPC sets and maintains standards for sorority life, including guidelines for recruitment, member education, and chapter management, ensuring consistency and quality across its member organizations.

In addition to advocacy and standard-setting, the NPC provides a range of educational programs and resources designed to enhance the sorority experience. These programs cover topics such as leadership development, academic success, personal safety, and wellness. The NPC also facilitates conflict resolution, resource sharing, and community building among its member sororities, organizing conferences and events to foster collaboration and learning. By promoting philanthropic initiatives and conducting research on sorority life, the NPC demonstrates the positive impact of sororities on college campuses and society at large.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): The parent organization representing nine historically African American fraternities and sororities, collectively known as the "Divine Nine." Established in 1930, the NPHC's mission is to foster unity and cooperation among its member organizations while advocating for their interests in academic and societal contexts. The council works to address issues pertinent to the African American community through collective action and mutual support.

The NPHC is dedicated to setting standards and providing guidelines for its member organizations, emphasizing areas such as recruitment, education, and community service. It offers various programs and resources focused on leadership development, academic excellence, and personal growth. By organizing events, workshops, and conferences, the NPHC facilitates networking and collaboration among its members. The council also promotes social justice, civic engagement, and philanthropic initiatives, reinforcing the value of community uplift and collective progress. Through these efforts, the NPHC continues to play a crucial role in shaping and supporting the leadership of tomorrow within the African American community.

New Member (NM): A sorority member who is beginning their journey in the sisterhood, learning about its values, traditions, and the bonds that unite its members. They remain a new member until initiation, when they transition to a full "member." Some organizations might refer to new members as "babies" or by the name of their sorority mascot. These members are part of a new member class, beginning their integration into the sorority.

Most sororities have moved away from using the term "pledge" because of its ties to outdated practices and negative stereotypes. This change in terminology reflects a commitment to creating a more positive and inclusive atmosphere within the sorority. The term "new member" better captures the welcoming and supportive environment that the sorority strives to foster. This change helps highlight a commitment to personal growth, respect, and unity within the sisterhood.

New Member Educator (NME): An initiated member of the sorority who serves as the new member class’s “teacher” and go-to guide for NMs throughout the new member period. The NME focuses on creating a fun, positive experience while preparing the NMs for a pre-initiation test covering the sorority’s values, history, traditions, and more. We used to call this role "Pledge Mom".

New Member Period/Program: An introductory phase where new members engage in activities designed to integrate them into the chapter and prepare for initiation. During this time, they learn about the sorority's history, values, and traditions, participate in bonding events, and develop a sense of sisterhood. This period ensures that new members are well-prepared and aligned with the sorority's mission before they fully transition into active membership.The process, prescribed by the sorority headquarters is typically 6-8 weeks long.

Notifier: This term isn’t used often. It refers to the cute signs used on Bid Day to identify each new members by name. They’re basically oversized name tags and are usually designed to match a Bid Day theme.

Open House: A kickoff event where potential new members (PNMs) get their first look at what each sorority sisterhood is all about. Each sorority chapter opens its doors to give PNMs a glimpse into their values, sisterhood, and what makes them special.

During Open House, PNMs have the chance to visit each sorority, meet the members, and get a feel for their personality and culture. It’s a relaxed, fun atmosphere where they can ask questions, hear about members' experiences, and see if they can envision themselves being part of that sisterhood. Both the sororities and the PNMs are trying to make a connection and a lasting first impression.

Open House is typically part of formal recruitment, although some schools may incorporate it into informal recruitment events as well. Not every school conducts Open House events in the same way, and a sorority does not need to own a house to host an Open House. Many sororities use campus facilities or other venues to welcome potential new members.

Open Recruitment: A more flexible take on the traditional recruitment process. Unlike formal recruitment, which has a set schedule and structure, open recruitment is ongoing and allows potential new members (PNMs) to join a sorority at various times throughout the year.

During open recruitment, there are no strict schedules or rounds. Sororities host casual events, hangouts, and info sessions where PNMs can get to know the members in a more relaxed setting. It's an opportunity for those who might have missed formal recruitment or prefer a more informal approach and the process varies by school and chapter. The focus is on building 

Paddle: A special gift in the sorority world. They’re usually wooden and shaped like an actual paddle, then decorated with sorority letters, colors, blingy things, and other special touches. Often, a big sister will make a paddle for her little sister and give it to her at big/little reveal or initiation. Sometimes, members pass down a paddle through their lineage to create a legacy. We’ve also heard of a new member class making one with all of their names as a thank you to their new member educator. Because they’re personalized, members tend to hang on to paddles long after graduation.

Panhellenic Council (Panhel): The word "Panhellenic" comes from the Greek words "pan," meaning "all," and "Hellenic," meaning "of or relating to Greece or Greeks." In the context of sorority life, "Panhellenic" refers to the collective organization of all Greek-letter sororities on a college campus or within a broader organization like the National Panhellenic Conference. It signifies the collaborative and inclusive nature of these groups, emphasizing unity and shared values among the various sororities.

The Panhellenic Council is the governing body for all sororities on a college campus, serving as the support system for sorority life. It’s made up of representatives from each sorority chapter who work together to promote unity, uphold standards, and ensure a positive experience for all members.

Specifically, the Panhellenic Council organizes campus-wide events, sets recruitment guidelines, and ensures that every chapter follows best practices. The council’s mission is to foster sisterhood and support among all sorority women, providing the tools and resources needed for academic, social, and personal success. 

Philanthropy Round (or just “Philanthropy”): Often the first round of formal recruitment, this round sets the stage for potential new members (PNMs) to learn about the core values and charitable efforts of each chapter. During this round, PNMs get a glimpse into what each sorority stands for and how they contribute to the community. The chapter highlights its primary philanthropic cause, shares impactful stories, and often involves PNMs in a fun hands-on activity related to their charity work.

This round is a meaningful opportunity for PNMs to see the values of the chapter in action and understand the importance of giving back. The goal of this round is to convey that sorority life is about more than social events by demonstrating the chapter's dedication to service and community impact. This helps PNMs connect with the chapters on a deeper level, focusing on what drives the members and how they work together to make a difference.

Pinning: In sorority life, pinning refers to two different ceremonies:

  1. Pledge Pinning Ceremony: This is a formal event where new members, or pledges, receive their pledge pins from the sorority. The pledge pin is a symbol of their commitment to the sorority during their new member period. This ceremony marks the beginning of their journey as they learn about the sorority's values, traditions, and responsibilities.
  2. Fraternity Pinning Ceremony: This occurs when a fraternity member gives his fraternity pin to a sorority member. This gesture, although less common today, symbolizes a serious commitment, similar to a promise ring. It often involves a formal ceremony, indicating that the fraternity member's loyalty to her is above his fraternity brothers. This tradition, while cherished by some, has become less prevalent in modern Greek life.

PLAM: Stands for "Panhellenic Love and Mine." This term is related to the concept of "Panhel love," which represents the support and camaraderie across the Panhellenic community. In sorority life, members use PLAM as a heartfelt expression of their affection and connection not only to their own chapter but also to the broader Panhellenic sisterhood. It is commonly seen in comments on social media posts or as part of signing off messages and letters.

When a member writes "PLAM," it signifies, "I cherish our sisterhood and the bonds we share within the Panhellenic community." This expression underscores the unity and sisterhood across different chapters, highlighting the mutual support and love among all sorority members. Whether posting a picture from a recent event or sending a note to a sister, adding "PLAM" is a sweet way for members to spread the love and reinforce their connection within Greek life.

Pledge: The term "pledge" has fallen out of favor in Greek life due to its historical associations and the negative connotations it carries. Traditionally, "pledge" referred to new members of a sorority or fraternity who were undergoing a probationary period before full initiation. However, this term has become problematic for several reasons.

First, "pledge" implies a hierarchical relationship where new members are seen as lesser or subordinate to existing members. This dynamic can lead to practices such as hazing, where pledges might be subjected to demeaning or harmful activities under the guise of tradition. Hazing has been widely condemned for its potential to cause physical and emotional harm, and most organizations have moved to eradicate it.

Second, the term "pledge" does not align with the Panhellenic values of inclusivity and mutual respect that most sororities and fraternities strive to uphold. By continuing to use language that evokes a sense of exclusion or subjugation, organizations risk perpetuating a culture that is at odds with their commitment to providing a supportive and empowering environment for all members.

As a result, Greek organizations have increasingly adopted the term "new member" to describe individuals in the initial stages of joining. This term emphasizes equality and respect, helping to foster a positive and welcoming atmosphere that reflects contemporary standards of behavior and community.

Pledge Class (PC): What we used to call a Member Class (MC). See above.

Pledge Mom: What we used to call a New Member Educator (NME). See above.

Pledge Pin: A small pin or badge given to new members, who used to be called pledges, during their introductory period. It's a symbol of their commitment to the organization from the time of pledging until initiation. Wearing the pledge pin signifies their dedication to learning about the sorority's values, traditions, and responsibilities. While the term "pledge" has been replaced by "new member" to promote inclusivity, we still call it a pledge pin (🤷‍♀️) and it remains a meaningful token of the initial steps in a member’s sorority experience. It's often worn during meetings and events to show unity and belonging.

Pledging Ceremony: The ceremony where new members, who used to be called pledges, are formally welcomed into the sorority. This ceremony marks the beginning of their sorority experience. It usually includes rituals and the presentation of pledge pins. The pledging ceremony is a meaningful experience, emphasizing the sorority's values, traditions, and the commitment of the new members. It's a time for the entire chapter to come together, celebrate the newcomers, and reinforce the bonds of sisterhood. While the term "pledging" is falling out of use, we still call the event a pledging ceremony (another 🤷‍♀️), and it remains a significant milestone in the sorority experience.

Point System: A structured system used to encourage and track member participation in various sorority activities and responsibilities. Members earn points for things like attending events, participating in community service, holding leadership positions, and also for one-offs like volunteering to come early to set up an event or reorganize the storage facility. The system is designed to promote active involvement, accountability, and to recognize members' contributions.

Points can influence eligibility for certain privileges, such as attending special events, voting rights, or holding office within the sorority. By implementing a point system, sororities aim to motivate members to stay engaged, contribute positively to the chapter, and foster a sense of commitment and community.

Polish Week (or Work Week): The week just before formal recruitment begins, where members come together to prepare the chapter house for recruitment and bid day, work on their recruitment skills, and strengthen sisterhood bonds. Activities during Polish Week can include cleaning and decorating the sorority house, practicing recruitment conversations, finalizing event plans, and participating in team-building exercises.

Polish Week can feature themed dress days to build camaraderie and make the week more fun. Often, the sorority will showcase their spirit and energy by filming choreographed dances and fun, engaging videos for social media. Polish Week days can be long and demanding, filled with a mix of hard work and creative projects. This intense preparation ensures that the chapter is well-organized and ready to welcome new members. It’s also a time for current members to reconnect after summer (or winter) break and set the tone for a successful year ahead.

Pomping: The “art” of meticulously rolling up thousands of pieces of tissue paper into tiny balls, which are then glued onto cardboard or stuffed into chicken wire to create amazing, elaborate lawn sign designs, usually for homecoming. It’s a rite of passage that tests patience, teamwork, and the ability to keep smiling while your fingers cramp up. Pomping sessions often involve lots of laughs, snacks, and music to keep the mood light and the energy high, making it a uniquely bonding experience.

Potential New Member (PNM): A college student who is considering joining a sorority and participating in Panhellenic formal, informal or open membership recruitment. They attend recruitment events, engage in conversations with current members, and learn about different chapters to find their perfect fit. It's like speed dating, but with more OOTD videos and fewer awkward silences. While PNMs evaluate the sororities, they are also being subtly evaluated themselves. Throughout this whirlwind process, PNMs are on the lookout for a place where they can find lifelong friends, personal growth, and a little bit of fun chaos.

Preference Card: The form that Potential New Members (PNMs) fill out at the end of the formal recruitment process. After a whirlwind week of events and conversations, PNMs use this card or form to rank their top choices for sororities. It's a nerve-wracking yet exciting moment, as they hope their top pick feels the same way. When they submit their Preference Card, they will also sign an MRABA (see above) which is the last step for PNMs until they receive their bids.

Preference Round (or Preference Night, Preference Day, or Pref): The grand finale of formal recruitment, where Potential New Members (PNMs) visit their top sorority choices for a final, heartfelt meeting. This round is dressier and more emotional than the earlier ones, complete with speeches, songs, ceremonies, candlelight, and maybe a few tears. During Pref, sororities pull out all the stops to show their best side, with beautifully decorated rooms and deep, meaningful conversations. Typically, a member spends the entire party with a single PNM. This is the last chance for PNMs to get a true feel for where they belong before ranking their top choice. The impact of Pref is so strong that some PNMs walk in with one first-choice sorority and walk out with another, showing just how much these final pushes can shake things up.

Presents:  An event sometime between Bid Day and Initiation where new members are officially introduced to the rest of the sorority and often the larger Greek community. It can be a big deal with a formal presentation ceremony or lower key, depending on the school. New members might dress up in coordinated outfits, perform skits or dances, and share personal introductions. This event celebrates their acceptance and marks their transition from pledges to full-fledged sisters.

Pretty Playbook: A comprehensive guide filled with tips, tricks, and secrets to help sorority sisters navigate social events, recruitment, and everyday Greek life. It’s like a go-to manual for everything from putting together the perfect look for formal events to polishing your social media presence. The playbook covers fashion advice, etiquette, conversation starters, and even study tips to balance the fun with academics. It’s designed to help you shine and succeed while making the most of your sorority experience.

The pretty playbook is typically created by experienced sorority members or alumnae who have a deep understanding of the sorority's culture and values. Often, the executive board, social chair, or a committee within the sorority takes on the task of updating or compiling this guide. They gather insights, advice, and best practices from various sources, including past members, to ensure the playbook is comprehensive and useful for new and current members. The goal is to p maintain the sorority's standards and traditions.

In terms of distribution, the pretty playbook can vary. In some sororities, it might be a single comprehensive guide shared among members, while in others, each member may receive their own copy, and some sororities produce digital playbooks so they can be updated easily. Typically, new members receive the playbook during their initiation or shortly after they join the sorority, ensuring they have the necessary guidance from the start. While not universal, the practice of having a pretty playbook or similar guide is fairly common among sororities. It helps maintain a cohesive and polished image, ensuring all members are aligned with the sorority's expectations and standards.

Primary recruitment: A synonym for Formal Recruitment.

Probation: A status given to members or the chapter as a whole when rules or standards are not met. It's essentially a wake-up call to address and correct specific issues.

For individual members, probation might occur due to low academic performance, missing mandatory events, or violating the sorority's code of conduct. For instance, if a sister's GPA falls below the required minimum, she might be placed on academic probation, requiring her to attend study sessions and improve her grades to remain in good standing.

To get off probation, a member must meet specific requirements set by the sorority's leadership. This often includes improving academic performance, attending required events, demonstrating behavioral changes, and participating in regular check-ins with advisors. Once these conditions are met, the member can be taken off probation and return to good standing.

Chapter probation is more serious and can happen if the entire group fails to follow university or national sorority policies. This probation is usually imposed by the national sorority organization or the university's Greek life office. Examples include hazing incidents, not meeting recruitment quotas, or financial mismanagement. During probation, the chapter might lose privileges like hosting social events, participating in Greek Week, or recruiting new members. 

Probation isn’t meant to be a punishment but rather a chance to make things right and get back on track. It’s a period of reflection and improvement, ensuring everyone aligns with the sorority’s values and standards.


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