Student writes Greek life book

A GW law student is compiling a book of short stories about Greek-letter life, set for print in late 2004 or early 2005.

“Legend of the Chapter House,” the working title of the publication, is a collection of 50 to 60 short stories about various aspects of fraternities and sororities from across the country. The book will also include sidebars with short anecdotes, interesting philanthropic activities and profiles of famous alumni.

“The idea started in September,” said Eric Koester, first-year law student and creator of the book. “I was reading a Hatchet article that kind of talked about the negatives of Greek life. I thought, ‘All you read about it is these negative things. If it’s so negative, then why do people do it?'”

While he said he wants to focus on positive factors of Greek life that would motivate some to join a fraternity or sorority, he said he does not intend to shy away from serious issues such as hazing and excessive drinking. Rather than just addressing these topics, he wants to incorporate stories that offer solutions to the problems.

Koester solicited potential authors by sending information about the publication to Interfraternity Councils and Panhellenic organizations at about 100 schools. He said about 800 people expressed interest, but so far fewer than 200 people have submitted stories.

“It started out as a grassroots movement,” he said. “I contacted people who I found on the Internet. Articles about the book in fraternity and sorority magazines were also helpful in spreading the word to Greek alumni.”

Koester said he founded a chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity his junior year at Marquette University with five other students. By the time Koester graduated, Kappa Sigma was one of the largest Greek-letter organizations on campus.

Koester said some of the most powerful stories have addressed suicide and “coming out” to an organization.

Although Koester said he has not yet signed a contract with publisher, various firms have expressed interest in the project.

Koester works with a team of about seven former members of Greek-letter organizations, including men and women from different age groups and areas of the country.

One assistant is Michael Zoldessy, an alumni from the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Northwestern University who currently works in media ad sales in Los Angeles. He said he received an e-mail from Koester in September and was instantly drawn to the project because of its unique perspective on Greek-letter life.

“Even though we had vastly different experiences in our fraternities, there was so much common ground nonetheless,” Zoldessy said.

The deadline for submissions is May 15, and those interested can e-mail Authors of published stories will receive $100 to $200 for non-exclusive rights to the story. Submissions are not limited to members or former members of Greek-letter organizations, and anyone who has had of contact with the system may write.

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