Fraternities challenge University recognition

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Sigma Kappa and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternities exist at GW despite being unrecognized by the University, raising concerns about the University’s system of disciplining Greek-letter organizations.

Though recognition carries with it benefits of University support and structure, it also is loaded with University regulation.

Unrecognized fraternities are barred from events sponsored by recognized organizations, such as Fraternity Cup, Greek Week and Greek-letter organizations’ homecoming activities, said Mike Walker, senior assistant dean for the Community Living and Learning Center.

Walker added that Phi Sigma Kappa and Pi Kappa Alpha can reapply to be recognized in the next four years, as long as they return to “good standing” with the University.

The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association do not recognize fraternities and sororities not in good standing with the University, Walker said.

“Overall, (Greek-letter organizations not in good standing) are not part of the Greek community, nor do they contribute to the success of the Greek community,” said IFC President Ethan Baumfeld.

However, some unrecognized fraternity members do not regret the University’s cutting of ties.

“Our chapter is better off campus. The University cannot breathe down our backs,” said Jeff Meil, treasurer of Phi Sigma Kappa.

To be or not to be recognized

Members of recognized fraternities said benefits exist to being recognized by the University.

“I think (unrecognized fraternities) are in a hole. They don’t have organized rush like we do,” said Greg Kroll IFC vice president.

Jason Delp, a member of Kappa Sigma, said, “It gives you a chance to be a part of a community bigger than your individual chapter. It gives the fraternity an opportunity to better itself.”

“I think we have a lot of resources available to us. With the IFC, there’s good leadership to follow,” Kroll said. “If Sigma Alpha Epsilon has a question, on the other hand, they would have to look to someone in their central office or nationals.”

Sigma Alpha Epsilon members issued a written statement to The GW Hatchet Nov. 15 that said the fraternity still is successful despite being unrecognized – but that it recognizes disadvantages to its situation.

Unrecognized fraternities do not have to obey GW regulations, but they are subject to D.C. laws, which are sometimes stricter than the University’s standards, Baumfeld said.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s statement said, “It is not always easy to thrive without such support systems and recognition that our school provides to fraternities that are on campus.

“We have experienced problems in the past with the University, primarily due to poor communications by both parties. In this last semester, the chapter, the University and our alumni have been taking proactive measures in an attempt to bridge those gaps by holding meetings with University administrators on a regular basis.”

“There’s a difference between how non-recognized fraternities and sororities are viewed by Greeks and non-Greeks,” Walker said. “Greeks don’t interact with non-recognized fraternities or sororities on the same level as they would recognized organizations.”

“To say some people are lesser than others is morally repugnant,” Phi Sigma Kappa President Greg Mast said, referring to the difference between recognized and unrecognized fraternities. Greek-letter organizations supported Phi Sigma Kappa in the wake of their suspension, Mast said.

Members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which did not reapply for University recognition after losing it four years ago, and Phi Sigma Kappa, suspended earlier this year, said being unrecognized has some benefits.

“The decision to take us off campus is the University’s,” Mast said. “I don’t have to spend time defending myself and individuals in the chapter for things they didn’t do . We’re no longer dependent on the University’s decisions about us.”

However, unrecognized Greek-letter organizations are not completely free from rules. Representatives from its national organization regularly visit Phi Sigma Kappa, Mast said.

“As far as we’re concerned, the most important thing is that we are around as a fraternity . Everyone is upbeat and positive. Our 100th anniversary is a year away. Our tradition on this campus should speak louder than an occasional fictitious noise violation,” Mast said.

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