SA Greek-letter committee gathers testimony in hearing

The Student Association Senate’s ad hoc Greek Affairs Committee heard testimony Sunday from GW fraternity members that later will be released in a report to administrators and the University’s Board of Trustees.

In his testimony before the committee, Interfraternity Council President Neil Smith spoke of the accomplishments of the Greek-letter community. He said this fall’s rush was a “dramatic improvement” and was the “strongest rush in the past several years.”

Although he said he would like to clarify some IFC rules, he said he has “no problems with social policies as they stand.”

Smith said he is frustrated that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has not had University recognition for the past four years and continues to thrive.

“It’s important that (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) comes back on campus,” he said.

Smith said he would like to see students and administrators discuss issues related to Greek-letter life more often.

Patrick Macmanus, former president of Sigma Chi and a former SA senator, said his participation in a fraternity made him “a better person.”

“It has taught me to accept mistakes and learn from them,” Macmanus said.

Macmanus was president of Sigma Chi when the fraternity received a one-year suspension from the University for hosting a party during Colonial Inauguration this summer. He has since resigned as Sigma Chi president.

Macmanus also said the positive aspects of Greek-letter life are being disregarded by outsiders.

“The administration and the media need to take a closer look at the good deeds the Greeks do,” he said.

Graduate student Damian McKenna, former SA president and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother, outlined problems and attributes of the Greek-letter community. He said the GW Greek-letter community has been left to “rot and decay without any assistance.”

But McKenna said being in a fraternity helped him succeed at GW.

“I would not have been SA president if it wasn’t for my fraternity,” he said.

McKenna said he would like to see a variety of issues addressed, including a comprehensive review of rules, and he said a committee should be developed to address Greek-letter housing issues. He said he also would like to see Greek-letter success stories published.

The newly formed committee is comprised of members of the Greek-letter system and the SA. Three Alpha Epsilon Pi brothers, including committee chair Aaron Chacker, one Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother and two Phi Sigma Sigma sisters serve on the committee. A brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, one of the historically black fraternities that is part of the National Panhellenic Council, also serves on the committee, along with the SA’s representative to the Alcohol Beverage Request Review Committee, Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss and several SA senators.

Chacker, who is an undergraduate SA senator, said he thought the witnesses presented many important issues.

“I think it was pretty successful,” Chacker said.

The committee will continue during the next few weeks to hear testimony from Greek-letter presidents, social chairs and administrators with jurisdiction over Greek-letter life, Chacker said.

Chacker said leaders of the Panhellenic Association and National Panhellenic Council were invited to testify but were unable to attend and will be asked to testify at a later date.

Smith said he hopes the committee will set goals for the future of Greek-letter life.

“I think it’s important that they focus more on the future of Greek life, rather than on the current social policies,” he said.

Chacker said in addition to collecting testimony, the committee will formulate a “comprehensive review of University policies affecting Greeks” and “study other universities, which have successful social policies.”

Chacker said the committee is collaborating with other Greek-letter leadership organizations to obtain a complete account of the issues affecting life at GW.

“Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness of the issues within the Greek community,” Chacker said.

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