For years I have watched as we are slandered, and we fall back. I have watched as we are denied equal membership to the Interfraternity Council, and we fall back. And last week, I watched as Ben Block, president of the IFC, lied about “unrecognized fraternities,” and we fell back. The line is drawn here.
The time has finally come for someone to step up and let everyone know the truth. First and foremost, the truth is that we are all different. My fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, is a completely different organization than Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Kappa Alpha Psi or Alpha Pi Epsilon. In fact, the 53 brothers of Sammy are different individually as well. But I suppose that might only be a shock to the ignorant, who stereotype groups based on the actions of a few.
Let me tell you a little about my organization, to enlighten those who are hesitant to even use the word “fraternity.” I, along with 22 other men, recognized a bond and undertook the intense challenge of re-chartering Sammy at GW two years ago. We looked to our brothers at large, all across the nation, to help us in our path to establish a community where we could grow individually and as a group. In that time we have grown in numbers, but, more importantly, as a brotherhood. We made contact with more than 400 of our alumni from the D.C. area to seek advice and tell them about our accomplishments. We’ve organized athletic competitions and have set up in-house tutoring services to insure that no brother falls behind. And this summer, I personally went to Detroit, Mich., to accept an award, on Sammy’s behalf, for the more than $4,000 we have raised in the ongoing effort to fight pediatric AIDS.
You are right, Mr. Block, that we are not formally part of your Greek community. We were denied GW space when we tried to use Kogan Plaza to raise money for our philanthropic cause. And we were denied the right to participate in athletic competitions with other Greeks, even though some are our friends. And we are denied any financial support from our school, or any potential to obtain Greek housing.
But we are thriving. We have plenty of alumni relations, as well as a central national headquarters. We have obtained our own liability insurance to protect ourselves from any bad fortune that may come our way. We have mixed with plenty of other fraternities and sororities, although never formally, because the IFC will not allow it. We have goals, virtues that we adhere to and a strong leadership within our organization. And no, we do not endorse hazing. Just because we don’t have to abide by the IFC’s anti-hazing policy doesn’t mean that we don’t adhere to it anyway. As a member of Sammy’s executive council, I didn’t tolerate it, and as long as I am a brother I will never condone it. But the IFC will continue to use it as a scare tactic to detract any and all who wish to really see what we’re about, instead of listening to these lies.
I can’t speak on why we’re not part of the IFC community. Perhaps it’s because we didn’t follow its non-recruitment policy imposed on us when we started, even though we all knew we would have floundered that first year, had we submitted. Or perhaps it’s because the IFC is afraid. You’re afraid that if and when we are finally seen by the IFC as the fraternity that we are, you will no longer be able to use the label “unrecognized group” and the stigma you’ve worked so hard to attach to it.
-The writer, a junior, is the former treasurer of Sigma Alpha Mu.