There are 13 recognized fraternities on campus, but to freshman, there are 16 options to rush, even if the Interfraternity Council will not admit it. It is not a secret, nor inherently negative that “unrecognized” fraternities exist at GW. What is inexcusable, is how some off-campus fraternities purposely taking advantage of IFC rules that restrict on-campus fraternities to gain an unfair advantage in the rush process.
The IFC has rules governing fraternity rush in an attempt to ensure a level playing field in recruiting new members. Unrecognized fraternities are under no such rules and some commit what is known as “dirty rushing” – in this case talking to freshman before rush begins to gain an unfair advantage in the rush process.
There is no recourse for the University, or IFC, to punish the off-campus fraternities, so one such group knew it could get some buses together and pick up herds of freshman outside Thurston Hall shortly before rush was to begin- leaving recognized fraternities with a small turnout, and some seething over ‘dirty’ tactics.
The University and IFC should realize that freshmen have difficulty telling the difference between the fraternities, it is all Greek letters to them. Freshmen do not know fraternity’s history or current status on campus necessarily, so when some guys say they will pick you up outside Thurston Hall and take you to Hooters, they just get aboard – no one has clearly told them the negatives of joining an unrecognized fraternity, if there truly are any. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, before losing its house, was an active, positive contribution to Greek-letter life at GW last year, even though they were unrecognized. It is possible for “off-campus” fraternities to live in unison with on-campus fraternities as long as they respect those that wish to remain affiliated with the University by not engaging in tactics they know are unfair.
A couple of years ago the IFC put up signs around campus alerting students to the fraternities that are unrecognized and not supported by the university financially or legally – they should do this again. Those fraternities that follow the rules, and are thus disadvantaged in attracting new members, deserve all the efforts that the IFC and University administration can do to educate students and parents as to the benefits of recognition.