Come join our community

“No one can tell you what Greek life is … you just have to see it for yourself.”

By now, hopefully you have seen this tagline at the top of the Interfraternity Council Rush posters around campus. Hopefully you have taken the time to notice the names of the fraternities on that poster, which the IFC and the University officially recognize. Maybe you have even been to a few of the events. So as Spring Rush comes to a close and potential new members are deciding which fraternity to join, it’s important to try and explain what it means to be a part of the Greek community and why we encourage you to join one of the fraternities we recognize.

To be clear, there are 28 recognized Greek organizations at GW: seven multicultural Greek groups, eight Panhellenic Association-recognized sororities and 13 IFC-recognized fraternities.

No doubt you have come in contact with someone from these groups. You have probably seen us wearing our Greek letters, participating in athletic and social events or eating in J Street with our brothers or sisters. And since we represent 15 percent of GW’s student body (1300 students), perhaps you are even a member.

But chances are, whether you know this or not, you have also come in contact with an unrecognized group on this campus. Maybe your friend or roommate is in one. Maybe you don’t know any of them but have seen them around campus or have been to one of their unregistered, unrecognized events. Or maybe you do not even realize that your classmate is a member of one, which would explain why he keeps falling asleep in class. It’s because they keep him up all night participating in unsafe activities that are supposed to bring him closer to his “brothers” but are really just undue hazing. Whatever your connection may or may not be to an unrecognized group, bear in mind that as individuals, its members are GW students with friends and roommates and classmates like any other students. But as groups, they have neither our guidance nor our support.

Choosing to go Greek was perhaps one of the best decisions many of us made in college. It opened doors to jobs and opportunities we otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. It provided a network for meeting new people. It enriched our social lives, increased our involvement on campus and contributed to our general successes and contentment in college. But choosing to join an unrecognized group – I won’t even call them fraternities – though perhaps the right choice for some, only closed doors that you never even knew existed. I’m not going to spend time discussing the risk and hazards associated with doing so. I would like to remind everyone that hazing in the form of severe physical and mental abuse is a large part of why these groups are not recognized and that by joining them you cannot be protected against it.

Rather, I’d like to talk about what the members of these groups are missing out on. They are not part of the Greek community. They cannot participate in events sponsored by the Greek community. They cannot mix with other Greek organizations (meaning no fraternity/sorority functions). They cannot use GW space. They cannot participate in Greek athletic competitions. There is no Greek Week, no GW financial support, no alumni networking or relations, no future involvement after college, no insurance safe guard, no potential for Greek Housing and, for at least one group, no national organization to turn to. Also keep in mind that no matter what these groups claim, they are not and will not soon be recognized by the IFC or GW. The pride that comes with joining a Greek organization is about being a part of the community, enjoying its benefits and helping it improve and grow. Sadly, students in unrecognized groups don’t get to experience any of this.

Without question, being a part of the Greek community comes with added responsibility- responsibility that the unrecognized groups do not have to take on. But it also comes with tremendous benefits. The choice seems so simple to me, but then, I have already made my choice. Now that Spring Rush is ending, it’s time for you to make yours. “No one can tell you what Greek life is … you just have to see it for yourself.” So come and see it.

For an official list of recognized Greek organizations at GW visit http://gwired.gwu.edu/greek or contact greeks@gwu.edu.

-The writer, a senior, is the president of the Interfraternity Council.

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