Each fall, the Division of Student Affairs sends out an eerily familiar email. Disseminated by Jeanne Lord, associate vice president and dean of students, and co-signed by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, this message annually reminds students that “Georgetown University does not support a social Greek system.”

Per the university’s official stance, Georgetown provides neither funding nor official status to social fraternities and sororities, exiling Greek life to unrecognized status. The administration cites several reasons for this policy. It argues that Greek life is often associated with dangerous behaviors including hazing and alcohol abuse. It also notes that the decision is rooted in the university’s Jesuit values, which emphasize the importance of each individual and of inclusion.

The administration’s position on social Greek organizations is simply hypocritical. This is starkly apparent in its discussion of the issue of “inclusion.” While arguing that social Greek life is not inclusive enough, the university continues to recognize on-campus organizations with acceptance rates lower than its own, which this year hovered around 15.4 percent. For example, the university supports organizations such as the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, which had a 12.1 percent acceptance rate last semester, and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, which accepted 13.8 percent of its applicants this spring. By recognizing Greek life on campus, the university would signal that it truly is committed to supporting inclusive organizations that align with Jesuit values, an effective way to demonstrate their common rhetoric.

Furthermore, the university’s characterization of the risky behaviors associated with Greek life may be accurate at schools across the country, but does not necessarily reflect the reality of sororities and fraternities at Georgetown. Moreover, if these issues do exist in Georgetown’s Greek life, granting the organizations status of official recognition would allow the administration to better understand and regulate this behavior. For example, granting official status to Greek social organizations would allow the university to collect more information and statistics about these groups’ behaviors, allowing a discussion that reaches beyond merely reputations and rumors. It would also allow the administration to include these groups in on-campus conversations about issues like hazing.

This is not the first time our community, nor even The Hoya’s editorial board, has critiqued the university’s position on Greek life. Two years ago, an op-ed published in The Hoya by Danielle Zamalin (NHS ’18) criticized the administration’s condemnation of Greek life, noting that the accusation of exclusivity that is lobbed at social fraternities and sororities better describes many of the recognized clubs on campus, such as Blue and Gray and GUASFCU.

Last fall, the editorial board echoed these sentiments, arguing that the condemnation of Greek life ignores the very issue that the ban seeks to solve: fostering inclusive on-campus organizations that also respect our Jesuit values. Yet, the editorial board’s critiques seemed to fall on deaf ears. Even as students — including, last year, the Georgetown University Students Association executive — continue to respond vehemently to its position on Greek life, the university has failed to adequately respond.

The acceptance rates for Georgetown’s sororities and fraternities, meanwhile, are stunning in comparison, even though the available statistics are limited. For instance, in spring of 2015 — the last available data — 100 percent of girls who completed the sorority recruitment process received a bid, according to Zamalin’s piece. Some of these organizations also take specific steps to ensure inclusive cultures: The Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, for example, recently held a focus group to direct their inclusivity efforts, seeking to create a space where sisters of all backgrounds could feel included and have their experiences heard.

In addition to their progress combatting exclusivity, many of Georgetown’s sororities and fraternities also embody the Jesuit credo of “women and men for others” through their charitable efforts. Last November, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity hosted its third annual run to raise money for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity has sponsored a blood drive, hosted bake sales, and has consistently participated in Relay for Life. Similarly, DPE has hosted clothing drives and is currently holding a drive to provide underprivileged women with sanitary napkins.

The university should re-examine its policy regarding Greek life, especially as it continues to receive criticism from across the Georgetown community – from the editorial board of The Hoya to the GUSA executive. Hopefully, the student body will not have to read this editorial again.

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7 Comments

  1. Disaffiliated says:

    As someone who was in a Georgetown sorority and ended up quitting it, I have to say I agree with the University. My time involved was marred with shockingly stereotypical female cattiness, never directed towards me but towards other sororities who were thought of as less (no one ever articulated a more specific adjective that should come after “less,” but the general thought was that the women in other organizations were less attractive- a sentiment corroborated by fraternity members). This feeling of superiority was supported by lower acceptance rates for the sorority I was a member of. While Greek organizations may have a high acceptance rate overall, that acceptance rate doesn’t apply to all organizations- in fact, the disparity between the sororities women preferenced for admission and the one to which they were actually accepted was noticeable, if I remember correctly. I have no real qualms with their existence, but I don’t think the comparison with other clubs’ low acceptance rates is fair when such an insular and often mean spirited sub- community exists. Perhaps Jeanne Lord would do better by launching a more direct criticism on the organizations’ defining flaw- that their success is judged so much in comparison to others, which is both more accurate and damning than her usual critique of “exclusivity.”

  2. Absolutely not – the Greek system brings with it far more negatives than positives. The lack of one at Georgetown is one of the best parts of the university’s student culture and climate. If you really feel like you can’t live without getting hazed, then hazing other people, and paying money to buy friends and make yourself seem cooler and more important, then by all means do so. But don’t expect the University to pay for it using all students’ activity fee dollars.

  3. Fortunately Georgetown will do no such thing. The history of Greek Life is Non-inclusive. One of the best assets of the University is that it has no Greek Life at all. Not gonna happen, brah.

  4. Greek life is in fact bad and not good for Georgetown. Georgetown’s LACK of Greek life is exactly what brought many Hoyas to the hilltop as opposed to other elite universities. Just because sororities and fraternities sometimes raise money for a handful of charities doesn’t mean they deserve the full-throated endorsement of The Hoya.

  5. Illuminated Alum says:

    No, absolutely not. Horrible idea. Transfer to GW or U.MD if you want to be part of a Greek system.

  6. 100 percent of girls got a bid? That’s cause its fuckin’ theta

  7. …and not a single argument was made for Greek life in this silly little diatribe. If you want more inclusivity and service, start a purpose-focused student outreach or charity. Lots of need remains in the district.

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