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Definitions and Explanations

Like members of many organizations Taus often use terminology that may make sense to other members but be somewhat confusing to non-members. Many of these terms are due to the fact that the House is organized based upon the model of the campus fraternity or sorority. Other words and phrases may be unique to Tau.

This page is intended to demystify some of these by offering definitions and descriptions of what certain words and phrases mean. It is not an exhaustive list and will not include anything that is "members-only" in nature. The descriptions it offers may answer questions that potential pledges or non-members may have after having read through parts of this site. Eventually some of these definitions will be shortened or eliminated in favor of linking to entries on the Traditions page.


Activate
• v. The transition from being a pledge to being a full member, or active of the House.

Activation
• v. The transition from being a pledge to being a full member, or active of the House.
• n. A private ceremony held by the house during which pledges are made full members, or actives.

Active
• n. An individual that is currently a Ripon College student AND is a member in good standing of Theta Sigma Tau.

Alum (neuter singular), Alumna (feminine singular), Alumnae (feminine plural), Alumni (plural masculine or mixed), Alumnus (masculine singular)
• n. An individual that was formerly a full member of Theta Sigma Tau (under this or any previous name held by the House) and subsequently left Ripon, either due to graduation or other reasons. Any former member of the House ho left the House in good standing (whether due to graduation or for other reasons) is considered an alum of the House.


Big Brother/Sister
• n. Each pledge is assigned to an active who is called their Big Brother or Big Sister. The "Big" acts as the pledge's mentor and advocate during the pledging process. Often a degree of familial camaraderie develops between extended chains of bigs and littles. The tradition of maintaining the lineages stems from this relationship.


Deactivate
• v. Occasionally an active member decides to terminate their membership in the House. The reasons for this decision vary from person to person. A person who has deactivated may still be considered an alum of the House, being listed in the directory and given access to same. Individuals who deactivate may be invited to become a friend of the House should the active members of the House decide to make such an invitation.

Depledge
• v. Occasionally an pledge decide to terminate their effort to become a member of the House. The reasons for this decision vary from person to person. Other than being listed in the Family Trees and on their big's profile page, individuals who depledge are generally accorded a status no different from any other person with no affiliation with the House. Individuals who depledge may be invited to become a friend of the House should the active members of the House decide to make such an invitation.


Friend of the House
• n. From time to time the actives of the House may decide to invite an individual to become a Friend of the House. Friends of the House are invited to all social functions of the House and may attend House Meetings but they may not vote in meetings and may not attend closed House functions such as Activation. This has replaced both the Social Member and Honorary Member classifications used prior to 2010.


HAT
• n. This was the name for a flat in Ripon where several alumni (and others) lived for a rather long period in the late 90s to early naughties. The original residents were Hans Henker (92), Adam Ochalla (98) and Tom Rinker (95): Hans, Adam, Tom = H.A.T. People moved in and moved out over the years, but for nearly a decade the residence was known as "The HAT."

Haze, Hazing
• v. In the past it was a tradition of many Greek organizations to force their pledges to participate in humiliating or dangerous activities, to basically treat them poorly. The misguided reasoning was that it built character and ensured that only people serious about being members were made members (pledges that complained or did not participate were generally not permitted to activate). In practice, this could often result in dangerous situations or generate social and emotional problems amongst both the pledges and the actives. At present, hazing is actively (or at least publicly) discouraged by most colleges, universities, and national fraternal organizations, but it does continue to take place unofficially and/or illegally in some fraternities and sororities.
Since the founding of Theta Sigma Tau in 1910, our House has NOT engaged in hazing practices of any sort. We never have and do not now advocate nor participate in the practice of hazing pledges, viewing it as a violation of our Creed, our Constitution, and our principles.

Hell Week
• n. Many fraternities have, as part of their induction process, a period called Hell Week. In the past this was a period during which many pledge activities occurred, often including hazing. Theta Sigma Tau does NOT have a Hell Week nor do we haze our pledges. We do schedule one weekend during the pledging period during which many traditional activities take place. We call this Live-In Weekend, and repeat that absolutely no hazing of pledges takes place at any point during the pledge process.

Honorary Members (obsolete)
• n. From time to time the actives of the House may decide to bestow honorary membership upon an individual. People eligible to be honorary members are those who would be incapable of becoming full members of the House because they are not or never were students at Ripon College. This may include Ripon College faculty and staff, relatives of members, exchange students, and members of the community. This term is currently not in use by the House, having been replaced by Friend of the House

House Meeting
• n. Every week the active members of the House get together to deal with the administrata that is associated with maintaining a living group. During these meetings the various officers and committee members report upon their areas of responsibility, old topics of discussion (old business) get addressed, new topics of discussion or concern (new business) are brought up. While attendance is not explicitly mandatory, membership in the organization implies the responsibility of participating in House Meeting unless an emergency or other unavoidable circumstance makes it impossible. A minimum number of members, known as quorum MUST be present at a meeting for any decisions or policies arrived at during that meeting to be official.


The Library
• n. All fraternities and sororities on the Ripon College Campus are housed in the various dormitory buildings. Each fraternity is given the use of a library, a moderately sized room that they may use as a private meeting hall and where they may store House memorabilia and possessions. The library is adjacent to the Lounge.

Lineages
• n. A set of family trees based upon the links between big brothers/sisters and little brothers/sisters. These are located elsewhere on this site.

Little Brother/Sister
• n. A term for a pledge, active, or alum that refers to the relationship between that person and their big brother or sister.
• n. In many male-only fraternities, "little sisters" are female students that are the equivalent of our Social members. This was the case for Theta Sigma Tau and its previous incarnations prior to 1980, when the organization went co-ed.

Live-In Weekend
• n. A weekend during which the pledges are expected to stay in the lounge (most actives do, too, turning it into a large slumber party) for the weekend. Traditional pledge activities are carried out during this weekend. It's a chance for everyone to get to know everyone in a group setting (and a chance to have fun!). More details about Live-In Weekend are available on the Traditions page of the site.

The Lounge
• n. All fraternities and sororities on the Ripon College Campus are housed in the various dormitory buildings. Each fraternity is given the use of a lounge, a large public room that they may use for official functions. Traditionally the lounge for Tau has been treated much like a living room by members of the House.


Mapes Hall
• n. All fraternities and sororities on the Ripon College Campus are housed in various dormitory buildings. Theta Sigma Tau is housed in the east end of Mapes Hall, one of four dorm buildings that are known collectively as "The Quads." Mapes Hall has been formerly known as Center Hall. The west end of Mapes houses Ripon's chapter of the national fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.


Pledge
• v. The act of applying to become a member of the House. Example: "I am going to pledge Theta Sigma Tau."
• n. Someone who is in the process of becoming a member of the House. Example: "S/He is a pledge of Theta Sigma Tau."

Pledge Activity
• n. An organized, often traditional, activity participated in by actives and pledges (and often by alumni). The purpose behind pledge activities is to help pledges and actives get to know each other better and to learn more about each other and the House.

Pledge Class
• n. All of the people who pledged in a given semester are members of that semester's pledge class.

Pledge Dinner
• n. During Live-In Weekend the pledges are expected to prepare a nice dinner for themselves and the actives. Funds for this are provided by the House.

Pledge Interview
• n. A private or semiprivate meeting between a pledge and an active. These meetings are intended to permit the pledge and active to get to know each other better.

Pledge Name
• n. A relatively recent tradition, dating back to the late 80s or 1990. In the spirit of the movie Animal House all pledges are assigned a pledge name. A pledge name can be wacky, appropriate, simply a nickname, or (as has been happening of late) intended as a bit of a puzzle for the pledge to unravel... why did they get the pledge name that they did?

Pledge Party
• n. This party is held the night after Pref Party, usually on the first weekend of a semester. It is a closed House event at which all of those who chose to pledge the House for that semester are welcomed to the House as pledges, assigned a Big Brother or Sister and a Pledge Name.

Pledge Period
• n. The period of time between pledging the House and activation. This period of time may vary from semester to semester, but is generally 6 - 8 weeks in length.

Pledge Plaque
• n. Traditionally a pledge will have an object of some sort that they must get each active to sign upon the completion of their pledge interview. Long ago, the House provided a small wooden plaque to each pledge. In the mid-80s it became a tradition for the pledge to come up with their own plaque, usually something creative or representative of themselves... or downright silly... a drawing, a Southern Comfort Bottle, a mannequin, a mattress. This tradition appears to have fallen out of practice.

Pledge Song
• n. A song or musical piece assigned to a pledge class by the actives. More detailed information is available in the Tau Traditions Page.

Pref Party
• n. At the opening of each semester, the House invites a number of people to this party. Short for "Preferred," it is a social gathering that includes a formal invitation to all of the invited non-members to pledge the House. Invitation to this party means that several members of the House have suggested that the non-member might fit in with the House, be an asset to the House, or that the non-member has voiced an interest. Being asked to Pref Party does not obligate one to pledge, but one must be invited to this party in order to be able to pledge.


Social Members (obsolete)
• n. From time to time the actives of the House may decide to invite an individual to become a social member. Social membership is a non-voting form of membership in the House. Social members are invited to all social functions of the House and may attend House Meetings but they may not vote in meetings and may not attend closed House functions such as Activation. People eligible to be social members are those Ripon College students who cannot become full members because of financial or family reasons or because of membership in another organization that restricts their members' ability to join other groups. One may not ask to be a social member, one must be invited to be one. This classification of member has been replaced but the Friend of the House.

Spring Formal
• n. Every spring, usually after Spring Break has come and gone, the House throws a Formal dinner and dance. Members, alumni, and friends of the House are invited and it has become THE big alumni reunion for the year. It is also often scheduled to coincide with Activation in order that the new actives get to meet a lot of alumni AND get to celebrate their Activation.


Tau Trivia
• n. A trivia contest held during Live-In Weekend wherein pledges are quizzed on knowledge of House history. More detailed information is available in the Tau Traditions Page.


Wop
• n. Wop, or wapatui (spellings vary as much as the drinks tend to), is an alcoholic punch that is usually made up of whatever alcohols are available or brought by guests: all mixed together along with a base of soda or punch. Tau managed to formulate a very specific Wop recipe which tasted completely non-alcoholic but had the effect of knocking one on one's ass. The Wop Recipe is a closely guarded House secret, even in these later years when the use of alcohol is heavily restricted or altogether forbidden.


 

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