Julia Hennrikus
JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

Hundreds of students will gather on campus this Friday to raise awareness about domestic violence and support local survivors of abuse. When they do, they’ll be expressing an important part of what it means to be members of the Georgetown community — to be women and men for others.

Most names of the groups in the Halloween 5K Against Domestic Violence are not likely to turn any heads. Among the participants and sponsors are organizations like Students of Georgetown, Inc., the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union — staples of the Georgetown student community. What some may find surprising, however, is that the event is being orchestrated by a fraternity: Sigma Phi Epsilon.

It’s no secret that fraternities and sororities have become more prevalent on campus in recent years. This trend has emerged despite the fact that many students, ourselves included, chose Georgetown in part because of its lack of traditional Greek life. After all, none of us wanted to live “Animal House” for four years.

Similarly, our brothers joined not simply out of a desire to party, but in search of more enriching personal development and a sense of community that they may not necessarily find in other clubs. Like SigEp’s cardinal principles of virtue, diligence and brotherly love, the best organizing values of fraternities and sororities go well beyond the stereotypes of drinking clubs and serve to advance Georgetown’s rich and diverse identity.

Fraternities and sororities should aim to fit within the existing campus culture, rather than fundamentally change it. In SigEp, that means aligning our cardinal principles with Jesuit values, such as contemplation in action, care for the whole person and a commitment to being women and men for others. Greek values and Georgetown values can, and must, be one in the same.

But it’s not enough to pay lip service to embodying Jesuit principles or to talk in abstracts about how those principles shape Greek life. Fraternities and sororities must find their particular niche on campus and actively live out those values that distinguish their reason for existing, in a way that directly relates to the Georgetown experience. To do this, fraternities and sororities don’t have to be purely service groups, nor should Greek groups at Georgetown exist only for self-perpetuation and parties.

Instead, fraternities and sororities ought to embrace the call that we all face: to use our time on the Hilltop for a purpose higher than ourselves and our own personal success. Last spring, The Hoya wrote on the growth of Greek life on campus (“Brothers and Sisters in Service,” A2, March 28, 2014), suggesting that fraternities and sororities put service “on the forefront of their agendas.”

We couldn’t agree more.

For SigEp, our niche lies in developing men to realize their greater potential of finding where their greatest passion aligns with the world’s greatest need. We’re a social fraternity, but our idea of being social is not only limited to socializing. Fundamentally, we interpret our social identity as an obligation to have a broader, positive social impact. Social for us isn’t a narrow, inwardly-focused description, but an outward call to action, inspired by Georgetown’s core value of preparing men and women for service in the world.

Just as Greek groups have a responsibility to discover and develop their Georgetown niche of social justice, so too does our broader Georgetown community have a responsibility to refrain from painting fraternities and sororities with a broad brush. As the Halloween 5K Against Domestic Violence aims to show, the growth of Greek life isn’t necessarily a change foreign to Georgetown; really, it is a reaffirmation of who we are as students on this Hilltop.

Matt Hamblin is a senior in the College. Christian Chung is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. They are president and vice president for member development of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Georgetown chapter, respectively.

2 Comments

  1. B. Richard Long says:

    sig…………….EPICCCCCCCC

  2. Congratulations to SigEp for making GU and the world a better place.

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