Students are in the process of re-chartering a professional foreign service fraternity on campus that died out from inactivity at GW following World War II.
Students are working to bring the Delta Phi Epsilon foreign service fraternity’s Eta chapter back to campus, as well as a sorority chapter, because they feel there are a significant amount of students at GW interested in foreign service.
Both the fraternity and sorority will be initiated within the next few weeks and begin the pledging process. The fraternity will kick off its year with an ambassadorial forum scheduled for Dec. 6.
The fraternity, which was initiated in 1919 at Georgetown University and began at GW in 1929, is designed to bring people together who are planning on entering, or who are already engaged in, careers involving overseas work such as diplomacy, banking, journalism and importing and exporting.
“Given the nature and interest of our student body, we saw GW as a perfect place for a professional foreign service fraternity,” said sophomore Elliot Gillerman, who is leading the initiative for the fraternity on campus.
Gillerman said the fraternity is aimed at playing an instrumental role in the development of GW students’ future careers. Its mission is to create a life-long brotherhood among students interested in foreign service and also allow them to learn more about such careers through events and meetings.
“We seek out students who are leaders, who are driven, who have great potential,” Gillerman said. “The goal of our members is to dedicate their lives to foreign service. Our goal is to help them achieve that.”
While a sorority chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon does not have any evident roots at GW, and only has a few chapters across the nation, sophomore Stephanie Petrew said has been working toward establishing a GW chapter since last year.
Petrew said she was able to get help from Georgetown’s Alpha chapter to start a chapter at GW. She also said she is planning on taking the sorority in a new direction from other foreign service sororities or chapters.
“We’re taking a little more of a culture aspect to it,” she said. “We have themed dinners from different parts of the world. We’re also planning on taking classes at different embassies, like a language or cooking class.”
Gillerman added that this will be the third time the Eta chapter is re-chartered at GW. GW international affairs professor Edward “Skip” Gnehm was instrumental in re-chartering the fraternity at GW 40 years ago.
“When we re-established it in 1965, it was to bring together those of us who wanted to supplement our classroom experience,” said Gnehm, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree at GW.
Gnehm believes that his involvement in Delta Phi Epsilon contributed to his extensive career in international affairs, which includes being the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, Australia and Jordan.
“I think (the most important part) was the intellectual stimulation from being in a group of people interested in foreign affairs,” Gnehm said. “At one point, we got invited up to Capitol Hill to a leadership forum with some senators. We actually had some meetings on the floor of the Senate. That was a different day and time, of course.”