I am transferring to a school that does not have a chapter of my fraternity. I really want to stay in Greek Life but because I’m already initiated I’m not sure if I can join another fraternity. What can I do?
In nearly all cases, transfer students cannot join a different fraternity after they change schools. The National Interfraternity Conference (NIC) prohibits joining a fraternity after initiated into another. However, there is a rare exception.
In addition to the NIC, your fraternity’s ritual and bylaws probably state the same thing. You cannot join another fraternity after initiated.
Under those guidelines, your only option would be to start a new chapter of your fraternity at your new school. This obviously is a pretty challenging task, but one that your national headquarters will likely assist you with if you were interested.
The only way to be able to join a different chapter is to be granted a release from your current chapter. Essentially, they will be expelling you which should enable you to join another chapter.
The problem with this is this decision is made at the national level. The local chapter doesn’t have the authority to revoke your membership. As such, it often takes time for the national organization to make this decision. On top of that, they may not rule in your favor.
Further, just because you are given your release doesn’t mean the new chapter will accept you. They may have provisions in their bylaws that prohibit you from joining.
Here is an article I wrote that explains this situation in great detail:
Can I Quit My Fraternity and Join Another One?
So if you get your release, you could attempt to join another fraternity. During rush, you should let the brothers know your situation privately, and let them decide what to do.
Chances are, the new fraternity will welcome you with open arms, and they will initiate you after your new member period.
If this does happen, be sure to honor the commitments you made to your previous fraternity. It will be tempted to share your secrets and compare what you did at your old fraternity to the new one. That isn’t really fair to either organization, and sharing secrets is a sign of poor character.
This is a tough situation ethically.
On one hand, I know we all agree that you are a brother for life and have taken a pledge with your fraternity. However, circumstances threw you a curve and I am not sure that should preclude you from being a part of Greek Life.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are a couple obvious things you need to do. You need to call your national headquarters and ask for advice. Let them know your situation, and see what they can do to help. Also, go talk to the Greek Life Director at your new school. He will be able to give good advice.
If I were in your shoes, my allegiance to my fraternity would be strong enough where I would not feel right joining another fraternity. This means I would probably try to start a chapter on my new school, despite knowing how challenging a task that is. I took an oath to be a brother for life, even when times are tough. You don’t stop being a brother of your fraternity once you leave campus, whether as a transfer or an alumnus.
This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.