While Greek letters and fraternity parties are commonplace at many universities, they are an odd addition to the landscape at a school that prides itself on being a Greek-free campus.

Tour guides and brochures boast that the university does not officially acknowledge the existence of any fraternities or sororities, but students find their own ways to bring traditional college experiences to the Hilltop.

Because the university does not allow fraternities, the students must work directly with national fraternity leaders in order to bring fraternities to campus.

Cody Ling (MSB ’11), founder and former president of Zeta Psi, explained that shortly after receiving a merit scholarship from the fraternity at the beginning of his freshman year, he was approached by elders and alumni of Zeta Psi to start a chapter of the fraternity at Georgetown.

“I recruited [members] predominantly through personal relationships in the beginning,” Ling said, “[and] as it had become larger, smaller official events have been used.”

Zeta Psi’s origins are very similar to the origins of [Sigma Phi Epsilon], Georgetown’s first social fraternity. In January 2005, Dennis Kaps, the national director of new chapter development of Sigma Phi Epsilon, began an informal recruitment process at Georgetown.

But these two social fraternities do not receive any funds from the university. However, the additional mission-based fraternities – Delta Phi Epsilon, a professional foreign service fraternity; Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity; Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity; Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society; and Alpha Epsilon Pi, a national Jewish fraternity – are eligible for university benefits.

Ling said that Georgetown’s community fosters an ideal campus for social organizations.

“Georgetown is not so small as to allow everyone to know one another, but not so large as to force people into small groups,” he said. “I feel that some of us can get lost here at Georgetown where sometimes the concept of community is lacking.”

After recruiting members, the next step in the process of bringing Zeta Psi to Georgetown was for Georgetown’s chapter of Zeta Psi to receive its charter, making it an official branch of the national fraternity.

Fletcher Kelsey (MSB ’12), pledge educator for Zeta Psi, explained that chartering was a difficult process.

“In order to receive a charter, we had to be at a top university, have a certain amount of active members, a hefty initiation fee and show that we can viably survive in the long- term,” Kelsey said.

In August 2008, Georgetown’s chapter was able to achieve “colony status,” a probationary acknowledgement of the chapter, by completing a variety of projects and meeting recruitment and educational goals. In January, it was granted its charter from the Grand Chapter, joining Sig Ep as the second social fraternity on campus.

“The largest challenge [for us] is conveying the value for becoming a member of the fraternity,” Ling said. “It is not so much of a competition issue with other fraternities, as it would be on a traditionally Greek campus, but rather demonstrating the lifelong associations you will have outside the front gates.”

“Georgetown does not grant access to benefits to social fraternities and sororities,” Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said. “Co-ed groups with open membership policies and transparent programming such as Alpha Phi Omega, a service group, and Omicron Delta Kappa, an honors society, are eligible for benefits under university policy [because] their organizational missions differ from the social nature of traditional fraternities and sororities.”

Nate Epstein (COL ’12), treasurer of Zeta Psi, said that the new fraternity offered a different perspective than some others with certain stigmas here at the university.

“I definitely wanted to be in a social fraternity, but one without limits to members,” he said. “Other fraternities on campus limit themselves to a specific demographic,” he said.

Christian Pean (COL ’10), a member of SigEp, said that he does not care that Zeta Psi has entered the university’s social scene.

“It definitely doesn’t bother me that there is a new social fraternity, Zeta Psi. I guess if anything, it’s a good thing because even though the administration is against Greek life, it is a part of college life that is missing at Georgetown and I’m glad I am part of it,” he said. “As long as no one group starts to completely override social life at Georgetown, I would see it as a positive thing to have a few more social fraternities on campus.”

Another member of SigEp, Andrew Brewster (COL ’11), said that each on-campus organization has a social aspect, and in that way a fraternity does not differ from the other groups.

“There is really no difference between a fraternity and the Credit Union, The Corp, The Hoya and sports teams at Georgetown,” Brewster said. “They allow you to meet likeminded people and help makeup for the lack of smaller groups on campus.”

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