Fraternities and Sororities (from the Latin words frater and soror, meaning “brother” and “sister” respectivel
y) are fraternal social organizations for mostly undergraduate students. The term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations. Given its close association with the United States since 1898, there are also many fraternities and sororities in the Philippines. Similar, but less common, organizations also exist for secondary school students. In modern usage, the term “Greek Letter Organization” is often synonymous in the United States, with the terms “Fraternity” and “Sorority”.
Typically, Greek Letter Organizations are gender-based initiatory organizations. Fraternity refers to a male membership, whereas Sorority refers to a female membership. Membership is typically considered active during the undergraduate years only, although a notable exception to this rule are historically black organizations, in which active membership continues, and into which members are often initiated long after the completion of their undergraduate degrees. As with Freemasonry, Greek letter organizations may sometimes be considered mutual aid societies, providing academic and social activities. Most groups also maintain a chapter house, providing residential and dining facilities for members.