Freemasons look to build presence at GW

A new fraternal organization is surfacing on GW’s campus, and this time there will be no Greek letters involved.

A group of GW alumni that believe in the teachings of the Masonic people are looking to start a Freemason Lodge on campus, said Paul Nadeau, a 2004 graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs. A Freemason Lodge is not a literal building, Nadeau said, but rather it is a chapter of Freemason people, similar to a fraternal organization.

“The word ‘lodge,’ in a Masonic sense, applies to a local assembly of Masons rather than to a physical structure,” Nadeau said in an e-mail, adding that while there are alumni from the Colonial Lodge, no current students are members.

Any GW students, faculty, staff and alumni would be welcome to join, Nadeau said, with one exception – membership excludes women.

University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg – who follows the Freemason teachings – said an official chapter on campus would be very similar to a service fraternity and would be involved in many public service-related activities.

A Masonic Lodge on campus could “add value to a [college] degree,” Trachtenberg said, adding that in an era where more and more students are becoming interested in the field of public service, “doing things for one’s country are a part of an undergraduate and graduate experience.”

Nadeau said there are about 40 physical Masonic temples in the U.S., including the Georgetown Masonic Hall, located above the Abercrombie & Fitch on M Street, but there are many more Masonic groups.

While Freemasonry is a foreign concept to most students at GW, Nadeau said that the Freemason practices and teachings are more pervasive than many students would think.

“Numerous cornerstones of GW’s old and new buildings have been dedicated with a Masonic ritual ceremony performed by the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C.,” Nadeau said, noting that the Elliott School and Townhouse Row are among them.

Nadeau also noted that George Washington himself was a Freemason.

Nadeau said the Masons seek out members of good character, or patriotic citizens who seek civil justice and strive to serve their community. Membership in a Masonic Lodge is based upon two requirements: belief in a supreme being and being male, though Nadeau did say that some Masonic organizations will admit women.

In order to obtain membership in the Colonial Lodge, a prospective member must ask the other members of the lodge to join. The applicant fills out a petition, goes through an interview process, and their candidacy is voted on by the current lodge members. The applicant then goes through a series of three rituals to test their motives for joining.

Nadeau said regardless of one’s age upon membership, all persons communicate and are treated on an equal level.

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