The largest undergraduate fraternity in the nation, Sigma Phi Epsilon, is currently recruiting members for a chapter at Georgetown in an effort to establish the first social fraternity at the university.

Membership in Sigma Phi Epsilon, also known as SigEp, is open to all qualified male students and recruitment runs all year.

Although there are a number of fraternities and sororities on campus, all of these organizations cater to specific areas, such as religion or professional interests. SigEp would be different as the purpose of the organization is entirely social.

According to Dennis Kaps, director of new chapter development, SigEp is different from conventional fraternity stereotypes.

“SigEp is the nation’s largest fraternity but we are not looking to throw the next biggest fraternity party,” Kaps said. “We prefer to focus on the things that get a student ahead in life.”

Justin Connor (SFS ’07) is currently helping Kaps form the new chapter in Georgetown. According to Connor, SigEp is a fraternity, not a “frat” and he hopes that its creation at Georgetown will dispel some common misconceptions about Greek social organizations.

“I cannot predict what effect the establishment of this fraternity will have,” Connor said. “But I hope that it will illustrate that not every group of guys who dons a shirt with Greek letters is a group of crazy party-animals.”

According to the Office of Student Affairs, Georgetown does not permit single sex fraternities or sororities to operate on its campus. Professional single sex fraternities and sororities, such as Delta Phi Epsilon, which is a Foreign Service organization, are not affiliated with any office of Georgetown University. The chapter of SigEp created at Georgetown will be independent of Georgetown’s administration.

According to Kaps, over 20 Georgetown students have expressed interest in joining the fraternity in just a three-day period. However, the response to the addition of a fraternity in the Georgetown area has still been mixed.

Mala Ramchandani (SFS ’06), a member of the Student Activities Commission, does not support social fraternities or sororities on campus.

“I think the SFS fraternity and sorority and the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and the law fraternity are good for the Georgetown community,” Ramchandani said. “But as soon as it becomes a social thing I think it has a negative influence on life at Georgetown . these kinds of things promote conformity and I feel that Georgetown students pride themselves for representing an array of cultures and interests.”

Martha Swanson, director of student organizations, believes that existing clubs and organizations on campus already provide students with ample social interaction and there really is no need for social fraternities or sororities.

“I think one of the best things about Georgetown is that it doesn’t have social fraternities,” Swanson said. “I believe that our students find their friends on their first year floor, and in their organizations, activities, classes and athletic teams. I think that fraternities tend to limit opportunities to meet and interact with people.”

Pooja Jotwani (SFS ’05), president of Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, stated that the establishment of a social fraternity at Georgetown could help counter the prevalence of professional organizations with social organizations. But she said she doubts that more social fraternities or sororities will be added due to a lack of support from the administration.

“I don’t think [Georgetown] would make such an extreme jump,” Jotwani said. “Although there are a few organizations that exist without campus recognition, I don’t think the university will outright promote a large Greek component to student life.”

According to Kaps, SigEp does not have a pledging process and in order to join, a student must go through an interview and application process. Kaps said they are looking for men who have a “commitment to academics, leadership and service.”

Kaps emphasized SigEp’s balanced man program, which stresses personal and professional growth and development. This program was created to counter negative images of social fraternities which include hazing, binge drinking and a decline in grades.

Some examples of activities in which members of SigEp can participate include time management seminars, rock climbing, community service projects, etiquette training seminars, resume building workshops and mock job interviews with SigEp alumni.

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