If you are planning to join a fraternity or a sorority, the following is what you can expect to provide to your Greek organizations when being considered for membership. “Background checks” have long been used during employment hiring processes and are designed to protect existing employees, assets, customers and other individuals with whom the employee may come into contact. A more recent trend has occurred where some type of background check is required for adults who work with young children, youth, or young adults. Background check is a common term, but there are two main types of background checks, each searching for different information and providing different results:
– Criminal Background Checks: This will look into the criminal past of an individual, revealing things like misdemeanors, felonies, and sexual offenses.
– Credit Checks: A credit check will uncover an individual’s past credit history. This can include positive and negative history associated with loans, mortgages, other lines of credit, and certain bill payment histories. Unfortunately for consumers who deserve a fair hearing (or perhaps fortunately, for privacy proponents), credit reports do not disclose what life factors may have caused payment problems, such as divorce, medical bills, job loss, etc.
The MJ Sorority website reminds prospective pledges that they may have to pay another fee to cover such credit checks.
Of course, there might be other requirements for membership in a sorority or fraternity. For instance, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity has this posted on its website: “Because the fraternity emphasizes the selection of men of the highest caliber, you will be interviewed by the local Membership Selection Team. The Membership Selection Team will notify you of the results of your application for candidacy after all interviews have been conducted. Additionally, the fraternity will perform a criminal background check to ensure that we are selecting men that are of the highest integrity. Note: submission to polygraph may also be required . . .”
Please note the wording of that last sentence. In order to join this particular fraternity, you might be required to submit to a polygraph test in addition to the required background check and credit check, meaning you might have to submit to a more rigorous background check than many employers require.
Here’s a final example of the wording from the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority application (whose most illustrious member is probably First Lady Michelle Obama): “As part of the membership application process, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated will conduct a background check on you. Such a process requires your permission for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to obtain your consumer report from a consumer-reporting agency. You will be responsible for the cost associated with obtaining your consumer report. Your consumer report may include, but not be limited to, the following information: a credit report, consistent with applicable federal, state and local laws, that includes obtaining information on convictions and/or pending prosecutions; Department of Motor Vehicles information; civil suits and judgments within the past seven years; accounts in collections within the past seven years; and bankruptcies within the past 10 years.”
If you really wish to join a sorority or fraternity, there’s probably no way to avoid having a credit check or background check. And some Greek organizations, like Omega Psi Phi, may take even more intrusive actions, like asking you to take a polygraph test. It’s important to weigh these factors before deciding whether to go Greek.
By Kristy Welsh, Credit Expert at CreditRepair.com