Staff Editorial: Fraternity fiasco

Top GW administrators appear to be forcing the Interfraternity Council to accept a member fraternity already rejected by the IFC this school year. GW makes it clear that Zeta Beta Tau will come to campus in 2002 no matter what the IFC wants. If GW officials are serious about Greek-letter groups getting more independence and deciding who is best fit to join the GW community like they have said, administrators must abide by the systems they set up and allow the IFC to determine its own membership policies.

Under normal circumstances, a fraternity applies to the IFC for recognition, and the IFC makes a recommendation to the University either supporting or rejecting the fraternity’s application. Zeta Beta Tau went through the normal processes in the fall and was rejected by the IFC for a “lackadaisical” presentation. What has changed now, though, is that 18 former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges were initiated in Zeta Beta Tau by a University of Maryland chapter. These new Zeta Beta Tau members are seeking recognition of the fraternity here at GW, and administrators will likely make that happen.

Adding even more drama to the whole mess is GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s membership in Zeta Beta Tau, as well as Vice President for Student Academic Support Services Robert Chernak’s tie to the organization. Zeta Beta Tau does seem to be receiving special treatment, and Trachtenberg reinforces this suspicion by refusing to comment on the situation.

While the IFC plays an advisory role in Greek-letter expansion leaving the University with the final say in which group gets to join, the group’s decision on a fraternity’s application – especially when it recommends to reject a fraternity – should carry some weight.

GW has forced the IFC into a difficult position to either risk its credibility and accept a group it already rejected, or risk a weakened Greek-letter community by rejecting a group that is coming to campus anyway. If the IFC is serious about its responsibility to evaluate applications for membership, the group should stick to its original recommendation and deny Zeta Beta Tau, leaving GW to answer to any effect from having an outcast fraternity on campus. An idea to allow the group on with restrictions is admirable in its attempt to resolve a difficult dilemma, but it would still hurt the IFC’s credibility on campus.

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