Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Weakly Greek

When Sigma Phi Epsilon President Michael Manuccia (COL ’07) opened an executive board meeting earlier this month with a proposal for rolling recruitment throughout the semester, he sparked a heated debate among the other brothers on the board.

Little more than a year after appearing on campus, Georgetown’s chapter of the nation’s largest social fraternity is still debating its membership policies. But the university’s position on the chapter is unchanged – as an all-male group, SigEp cannot receive university recognition or access to benefits.

That policy has kept a traditional Greek system from developing at Georgetown over the years. Similar policies are in place at other Jesuit schools, including Boston College, Fairfield University, College of the Holy Cross and Fordham University.

The schools are not bound to disaffiliate from a Greek system. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, of which Georgetown is a member, says in its mission statement that “each institution is separately chartered by the state and is legally autonomous.” And the 1967 Land O’ Lakes Statement, an accord on the nature of a Catholic university reached by Catholic priests and educators at Land O’ Lakes, Wis., also stressed institutional freedoms.

Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, said that Georgetown’s policy on fraternities was a commitment to benefiting as much of the campus community as possible through student activities.

“Our campus is particularly vibrant because so many students join organizations that focus on strengthening the entire university,” Olson said.

But those organizations that are recognized by Georgetown include some Greek letter organizations, like Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity, and Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity, both of which receive full access to university benefits.

Bill McCoy, assistant director of student organizations, said that the university does not consider those groups to be fraternities because they meet eligibility guidelines for university benefits. They have of have open membership policies and do not haze new members.

APO, for instance, does not use a traditional pledging process to choose members, instead requiring prospective members to complete 10 community service projects in a six-week period.

Still, even without official recognition, many fraternities play a prominent role on campus. The SigEp chapter, which began recruiting students last January, now boasts 66 brothers.

Other fraternities have even deeper roots. The foreign service fraternity Delta Phi Epsilon was founded at Georgetown in 1920 and now has 22 other chapters across the country. Alpha Kappa Psi, a national business fraternity, opened a chapter here in February under the advisement of McDonough School of Business administrator Julie Featherman, after Georgetown’s chapter of another business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, lost its national recognition because its members did not follow filing procedures.

Other fraternities include the traditionally Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and traditionally African-American fraternities and sororities like Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha.

These groups are funded by membership dues and alumni donations. ost also require prospective members to go through a traditional five- to eight-week pledging process, which would also be banned by the university should these groups gain recognition.

Martha Swanson, director of student organizations, said that the presence of these fraternities on campus does not weaken the university’s position on such groups.

“We are comfortable with our wide variety of groups which are open to all,” Swanson said.

Among students, though, feelings are mixed about the lack of a traditional Greek system at Georgetown.

Richard Kerby (COL ’08), who is not a member of any Greek organization, said he does not feel like he is missing out on much.

“I don’t really see it as a huge part of what goes on here,” he said.

Chris Gary (MSB ’06) said he sees fraternities as a form of self-imposed segregation.

“The world you create in a fraternity isn’t conducive to the world in which we live,” Gary said. “By joining, you are saying, `I want to be around people who are just like me.'”

But Kathleen Powell (COL ’08) admits that while she is not a member of a Greek organization at Georgetown, she probably would have joined a sorority if she were at another university.

“I would not [have joined a sorority] at Georgetown because I feel like I am sufficiently involved, but if I went to a state school, I may have joined one because I would like to be busy, etc.,” Powell said.

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