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This page seeks to establish and explain the philosophy of Protocol when it comes to the lettering of Greek Paraphernalia.
Protocol: a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence.
Q. "I am looking at other websites, and I notice that they have there Greek letters, on the right side of the jackets. I was looking at your site, and you have them on the left side. I also see the crossing month/year on the right arm and I see yours on the left arm. Is that preference or are the other sites incorrect? Thank you."
A. The fact is for many years non-Greek members owned the companies that dominated the Greek paraphernalia market. It is well known that many organizations do not care what colors are being used or where their lettering is placed (as is evidenced by the wearing of letters across the butt of sweatpants for many groups).
The problem with proper letter placement happened primarily because of two reasons:
1) Non-Greek owned companies put the letters where they wanted them to be, even when crests or other symbols were not used, and
2) Errors occurred during the translation of order forms. When you draw a design on paper, it is opposite of the actual jacket. Customers would put the letters on the left side of the paper, thinking it was the left side of the jacket, but it was actually reversed. As more people joined, they had their jackets made as previous members, not realizing the error of the jackets before them...and thus tradition started with the lettering on the wrong side.
Q. "Why don't you make your jackets look like the jackets from other places?"
A. We are 3rd generation members of Greek-lettered organizations, with a legacy dating back to 1930, and it is our mission to correct that which is wrong. We have been lettering Greek paraphernalia for almost 20 years. Unfortunately, during that time period many upstart and new companies have not followed historical Greek lettering protocol. While we cannot control other companies and their practices, however, we refuse to bend our rules to improperly letter our items, just to make them look like another company's products.
Q. "Where did you get this protocol? Is it in a book?"
A. Greek lettering protocol has been passed down for years. It is, however, a combination of protocol from other organizations and groups. Think back to high school. The correct and proper way to letter a school letterman jacket is to have the varsity letter sewn on the left side over the heart, and the person's name on the opposite side. Similarly, take a look at the US Army. The US ARMY patch (denoting your branch of service) on the military uniforms goes on the left side over the heart, and the name goes on the opposite side.
You must also remember, that it was just some 25-30 years ago when Greeks started getting elaborate with paraphernalia other than the traditional wool sweater. Prior to that, it was rare that you would see anything other than the standard Greek letters across the front of a t-shirt or football jersey. We have evolved with our paraphernalia, but we have left tradition behind. We are trying to correct that error and adhere to the standards of the past.
Organization's GREEK LETTERS:
Protocol dictates that when lettering vertically (4-inch letters) or horizontally (small letters), the Greek letters of an organization's name should be placed on the LEFT side of the garment (i.e.: jacket, jersey, etc.), as they take precedence over the words, the crest, or any other symbol.
Rationale: Without the organization, the symbols have no reference. As a general rule, the organization was in existence before a crest was designed, and the organization's true meaning is in the letters; therefore, the Greek letters must be placed in a position of reverence -- on the left side closest to the heart.
Protocol dictates that when adding chapter (or colony) information to the sleeves, the chapter's letters (colony name and/or school) should be placed on the LEFT side of the garment, as they take precedence over the crossing date and/or time.
Rationale: Without a chapter (or colony) to which to join, in most cases, membership cannot be attained; therefore, the chapter (or colony) name must be placed in a position of reverence -- on the left side closest to the heart.
Crossing (Initiation) Dates and/or Times:
Protocol dictates that when adding crossing or initiation information to the sleeves, the date and/or time should be placed on the RIGHT side of the garment, as they do not take precedence over the chapter information.
PLEDGE CLASS (or LINE) Letters:
For chapters and organizations that name their classes (or lines) by Greek letters, protocol dictates that the Class letters are subordinate to the Chapter's letters. Therefore, they are either placed on the left sleeve beneath the Chapter's letters, as in the examples below:
or, they are put on the RIGHT sleeve in place of the initiation date.
COMBINED Crossing Information:
For chapters and organizations that combine their crossing information, protocol dictates that the information be combined as below:
[ Line Number - Chapter - Crossing Year ]
or in the cases where there are two or more lines in a year, the combination is as follows:
3-BG-Spr03 or 2-BG-Sum03 or 1-BG-F03
Rationale: The chapter is the CENTER POINT of your membership/initiation.
When the person's name and crossing information are combined in English, protocol dictates that the information be combined as below:
Goddess Speedy #1
When the person's name and crossing information is combined using Greek letters for the chapter, information is traditionally combined as below:
Goddess Speedy #1
Line Name vs. Line's Name:
Protocol dictates that an individual's line name takes precedence over the name of the line, and should be placed above the line's name.
Rationale: While pledging, you are a cohesive "unit"; however, once you have "crossed", your individual self takes priority over the line.
Line Name vs. Line Number:
Protocol dictates that an individual's line name takes precedence over his/her line number, and should be placed either above or before the line number.
Rationale: While pledging, you were only a "number"; however, once you have "crossed", you are a member of the organization, and no longer a number.
Please note that ALL of our button down, snap-front, or zippered jackets, jerseys, sweaters, fleeces, shirts etc. for Greek lettered organizations are lettered with Greek letters on the LEFT side, closest to the heart. We simply do not put Greek letters on the right, nor do we put Chapter names on the right. While the Greek letters of the organization supersede all other information, so does the Chapter name supersede crossing dates, times, line members, etc.
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Greek letters, name, or insignia of particular fraternal organizations are not necessarily being sold under a license or other sponsorship from those organizations, and the manufacture and/or sale of products contained herein does not necessarily indicate approval by a national or local organization. It is the product manufacturers' intent that sales be only to and/or for members or pledges of the represented fraternal organizations.
purchases from local vendors are tantamount to a consent to use
agreement or a limited license..."
Sarah Evans Barker, Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana
So ordered, 25 October 2004
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