Home CommentaryStudent Life ConU’s fraternities & sororities alive and kicking

ConU’s fraternities & sororities alive and kicking

by Archives July 3, 2002

Most undergrads would agree that starting university can be a lonely and
intimidating experience. Nobody wants to feel left out, especially at a huge urban campus like Concordia’s. Our university has a long history of fraternities and sororities, “Greek letter societies” of men and women whose aim is to create a sense of belonging and leadership in the community. At Concordia, visibility has always been an issue for these groups, and you could be forgiven for not knowing they even existed. This is something that the Inter Fraternity Council (IFC) is planning to change.
“The awareness of the Greek [letter] community has grown over the past few years,” says Robert Kiricsi, president of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Kappa Chi chapter. “The IFC is taking some steps toward making us more known throughout the campus. Everybody wants more awareness because it gives us more members and more fun.”
Shattering the myth of Greek letter communities as secretive, ritualistic
societies, Kiricsi adds that TKE organizes dozens of parties, comedy nights, road trips and charity events each year. They are perhaps best known for “Teke in a Box,” the annual charity fundraiser which sees members of the fraternity panhandle for spare change outside the Hall Building for 36 straight hours. This past year, the money went to the Action Centre, a Montreal-based charity for the disabled.
The average membership of a Concordia fraternity or sorority is between 15 and 30 people every year. In a university of over 28,000, this is barely a drop in the water. “I really don’t know why [we aren’t very well-known] because every year we have a table in the Hall Building to welcome people to our sorority,” says Marie-Eve Laroche, a member of the Zeta Tau Omega sorority. “Maybe people have misconceptions of a sorority because of the American movies.”
Hollywood certainly tends to portray sororities and fraternities in a
stereotypical slapstick light. Melissa Fazi, former president of Zeta Tau Omega sorority, says they could not be farther from the truth. “It’s completely different from what you see on TV, we’re not snobby. We don’t pick and choose people. They join, and if they like it, they stay.”
So why do people choose to join a sorority?
“I think most people would tell you they join when it’s their first year of
university and they don’t know anybody,” says Fazi. “It just becomes a small group, like your own little family. Especially since we have a house, you can just go there during your breaks when you have nowhere to go.”
Laroche, a 20-year-old translation student, agrees. “It helps you with school because if you have a problem, there is always a sister to help you.”
The same can be said for the men. “If this is your first year in TKE,” says
Kiricsi, “there are a lot of guys in their [third and fourth] years who can help you out.”
Concordia’s Greek letter societies pride themselves on being very open and democratic when it comes to choosing members. It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that the CSU does not recognize these groups and does not give them any funding. “They say that we discriminate,” says Fazi. In other words, men aren’t allowed to join a sorority and women cannot become members of a fraternity.
“That’s their excuse,” says Kiricsi. “The CSU never liked us. But we can manage ourselves, we have for the past 35 years.”
Most fraternities and sororities at Concordia were started in the 1960s and early 1970s and during that time they have developed their own individual styles. Some, like Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, are chapters of international organizations, while others, such as the Omicron fraternity and Zeta Tau Omega sorority, were founded here at Concordia.
At the beginning of every semester, all the sororities and fraternities put up rush tables on the Mezzanine of the Hall Building to attract new members. When people sign up, they begin a “rushing” period, which can last anywhere from six weeks to six months depending on the organization. Then comes the final initiation, which unfortunately is top secret. This is the one topic, which everyone refused to discuss. “Initiation… is initiation,” laughs Kiricsi.
“There’s not much I can say about that. But there’s no hazing.”
On their website, the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority policy states that “hazing is defined as any action, whether on or off campus, intentional or unintentional, producing physical or mental discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.” All the Concordia fraternities and sororities have a strict no-hazing policy. “Hazing is not permitted at all,” says Kiricsi. “If there is, we will be shut down immediately.”
Fazi believes hazing is part of the reason Greek letter societies are not very widely publicized at Concordia. “I think we’ve gotten a bad rap from what’s gone on in the States. There have been some accidents over there.”
At Concordia, fraternities and sororities are actively involved in campus life.
“I think we play a bigger role than people realize,” says Fazi. “We [the IFC community] basically run the [Guadagni] Lounge and we fight to keep it there. We pay rent to Concordia every year for that room. If it wasn’t for us, we’d only have the cafeteria.”
However, despite all of the misconceptions surrounding them, the fraternities and sororities at Concordia are all reporting increased membership with every passing year. The future looks bright, says Kiricsi. “I think within the next few years we’ll be growing a lot, and people will be a lot more aware [of us]. I wouldn’t be surprised if more fraternities want to come and make chapters at Concordia.”

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