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Greek life, a way of life

Collins is a sophomore English major and can be contacted at emma.collins@drake.edu.

So, your little just got lavaliered by her frat-daddy, but her candle-passing won’t be for another week and you have to keep it on the DL? (I would never say that sentence, just so you know.) But somewhere, somehow, that random Alpha Chi Omega or Delta Delta Delta would, and while the Drake Greeks might pride ourselves on being a little more down to earth, it’s hard to understand something that’s (literally) all Greek to you. For those of you new to the Greek system (it is spring recruitment time) or have sworn it off entirely, here’s a quick glossary to get you up to speed.

Usually worn on a necklace, a lavalier is a set of silver or gold letters. For fraternity men it’s presented to girls as “the next step” in a serious relationship, placing them above their brothers and allowing them the privileges of their fraternity (it’s normally the step before an engagement, so if you’re only a sophomore and you’re already being lavaliered you might want to slam on the breaks a little).

Have you been recently lavaliered? Given a promise ring? Gotten engaged? Then you deserve a candle-passing! A sorority tradition, the women of the house stand in a circle, sing their house candle-passing songs and send around a lit candle. Depending on the house and it’s traditions, the candle normally goes around once for friendship, twice for lavaliering, three times for pinning or four times for engagement. The girl who has the candle-passing blows out the candle when it gets to her and gets to reveal herself as the lucky girl.

An abbreviation for fraternity, most “frats” prefer to be called by their full name or fraternity–unless it’s used in pop culture (think totalfratmove.com).


A party held by either a fraternity or sorority, a “crush” normally allows every member to invite multiple guests and is often one of the house’s largest events of the semestee–if you’re not Greek, this is your way into a Greek social event.

Big/Li’l, Mom/Daughter

Bigs and li’ls or moms and daughters are two women in the sorority, one older and one younger who are (by mutual election) assigned to each other. They (theoretically) help guide and nurture each other just as a real mom and daughter or big and little sister would.

Hired to oversee a sorority, a housemom originally oversaw the girls and their welfare as well as imposed rules like curfews, skirt lengths and mealtimes. Now, however, most housemoms oversee the upkeep of a sorority’s physical property and maintenance (sorry, guys, she’s not usually as hot as Anna Faris in “House Bunny”).

Dry week

Normally imposed around initiation time, Greek members are restricted from drinking alcohol during dry weeks.

Also normally on dry week, I-week is the abbreviation for initiation week.

Every national fraternity and sorority aligns itself with volunteer opportunities, normally with a national cause or organization and while most fraternities at Drake participate in the tradition, all five sororities hold at least one philanthropic event every year.


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  1. Michael Ujifusa February 3, 2011

    Historically I-Week has been referred to as Hell Week;
    the final test of loyalty before a pledge can become active.
    The activities that occur during I-Week fringe on the border of legality…

    Its loads of fun, I highly recommend it.

  2. Iweeker February 5, 2011

    I week usually consists of mindless reptition of songs/sayings/rituals, followed by sleep deprevation, poor hygiene and the occasional line-up (think getting yelled at for being a pledge). A great test of loyalty for becoming a brother, being treated like crap. Or you could just opt for the everade route…

  3. anon. February 7, 2011

    Every national fraternity and sorority aligns itself with volunteer opportunities, normally with a national cause or organization and while most fraternities at Drake participate in the tradition, all five sororities hold at least one philanthropic event every year.


    let’s all get drunk and say we did shit for the community

  4. Prttygreekchick1578 February 8, 2011

    Your articles are pure “misogyny.” I could provide you with a definition, but I think it will be all “Academic” to you.

    Get it? Instead of “all Greek” to me………

  5. Anon February 8, 2011

    Listen up Merriam Webster, who said any non-Greeks wanted and/or needed your definitions? As a return favor, here is a little dictionary for Greeks from some non-greeks:

    Apartment- the place I pay rent and live with one other rommate.

    Groceries- the stuffy I buy from the grocery store to cook meals.

    Clothes- apparel I buy because it looks good on me and doesn’t match 30-90 other girls I can high five during the day for being just so awesome!

    Friends- the people I do not buy or pay to hang out with me.

    Volunteer work- a simpleton’s word for philanthropy.

    Going out- meeting people who call getting on a bus at noon, drinking all day in 80’s clothes, and then puking at Starbucks just to feel something because that “super hott Fiji” cheated on you…a serious problem.

    1. Anon February 10, 2011

      Wow. That last comment was really rude. Even as a non-greek student, I find it offensive that you judge their organizations and discredit their work. Disappointing.

  6. Anon March 3, 2011

    It is interesting to learn that this is what you think of over 30% of your peers, including many this campus’s leaders. How many Greek student body presidents, vice presidents, senators, resident assistants, etc. that uphold Drake’s values and those of their chapters do we need to have before this stigma will go away? I understand that many of you only see the Greek community’s outward appearance, and for many of you, that’s all you want to see. However, unless you are in a house, you cannot truly understand the sisterhood/brotherhood formed upon the foundation of common values unique to each sorority/fraternity.
    Yes, we have traditions. No, they don’t mean anything to you. But they do to us. You don’t need to understand them, and it would be ridiculous on my part to ask you to even respect them (as shown by the above comments). I can accept that. What I am struggling with is the fact that ALL of Drake’s Greek community must constantly defend itself against comments like those made regarding this article.
    Do we not all attend the same university? There really isn’t that much difference between your organizations and ours (which, by the way, share many common members).
    As far as philanthropies go… how many of you can say that your organization raised over $14,000 last year for a charity? This was just one house.

    Just something to think about.

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