Friday, May 10, 2013

Lost and Found. UPenn and NYU fraternity rankings.

An old guide but it still holds true, without the ranking.  Yeah we're lazy but hell it's better than not posting.

Penn Fraternity and Sorority Rankings

Pi Kapp - Large diverse, your average guy, they throw open parties.

Castle - International, amazing house, trending downwards in terms of prestige.
Zetes - International, very wealthy, amazing house, they throw the best downtowns for the international scene.
St. A's - WASPy, heavy drinking, heavy cocaine use, grueling pledging, amazing chapter house, terrible off-campus house, Registered parties are good (as good as they can be without hard alcohol).
Phi Delt - WASPy, nicer version of St. A's, but much bigger in terms of brotherhood, great chapter house, very close with tri delt sorority.

OZ - Off campus fraternity, Wealthy Jews and Athletes, heavy drinking, heavy cocaine use, grueling pledging, great house parties (especially in the backyard of their senior house), average downtowns.
Theos - Off-campus fraternity, Wealthy jews from nyc and la, best downtowns, average house parties, very close with Theta.
Owls - Off-campus fraternity, Wealthy internationals and Some jews, used to be well-known for their late nights but they have been terrible this year, have started throwing brunch parties which are well-liked in their scene.
Sig Chi - Athletes, great chapter house, don't have too many open parties, but mix with AXO a lot.
Beta - Brotherhood has gone downhill significantly from a few years ago and the only cool kids in the frat are the seniors, Used to be in the top-tier with a lot of ex-athletes but its prestige has gone down a lot, OK chapter house, lots of open parties.
Kappa Sig - A version of Phi Delt, most of the brothers try hard to be perceived as WASPy and dress very preppy.
AEPi - Exclusively Jewish brotherhood, mixes a lot with SDT, mostly nerdy brothers, but a few cool older ones, lots of open parties.
SAE - large diverse brotherhood, lots of open parties, off-campus house is in a great location, this frat is trending upwards.
TEP - Jews, stoners.


Tri Delt - Easily the two hottest sororities on campus. Tri Delt typically will take most of the blondes and non-jewish girls. Tri Delt is generally considered "nicer".

Theta will take a lot of girls from NYC, LA, Miami. Theta is somewhat edgy.

 AXO - a lot of athletes or former athletes, they have a couple of really hot girls and a lot of average ones, fun to mix with and like to party and drink
SDT - exclusively Jewish, a few hot girls and the rest are not attractive
Tabard - well regarded in the international scene but the girls are mostly unattractive, have to go through difficult pledging
Sigma Kappa, Chi O - don't know much about these...


NYU while not seemingly fratty has more than its share of fraternity history. Several national fraternities were founded there including Zeta Psi and Alpha Epsilon Pi and several others were home to the first expansion--  including Psi Upsilon, Delta Chi and Kappa Sigma. The two oldest continuous chapters of fraternities in the nation (more on that later) are in residence at NYU.  Some fraternities came and went, lost in NYU’s upheavals: St. Anthony Hall (technically but not functionally united into a New York based Columbia chapter), Alpha Delta Phi, Delta Chi, Delta Upsilon and Alpha Phi Delta. Theta Nu Epsilon is an underground fraternity that is probably more akin to NYU's secret societies or independent clubs and thus not covered here (though there is a footnote at the bottom). At least several fraternities have been absorbed by others.  All in all, it has been an amazing record of consistency for NYU fraternities over these many years. Unlike many other colleges in America, NYU was a campus where fraternities thrived through the 1960's and  through most of the Vietnam era relatively intact.

The biggest challenge for NYU's fraternal traditions to date was the relocation of the main undergraduate campus from University Heights in Bronx to Washington Square in the Village in the mid 1970's.  NYU went from a traditional university with a campus, a fraternity row, and high profile and popular sports to the university's present incarnation where none of those things exist.  The University Heights campus was all male through most of the 20th century and remained virtually that way until its closing.  Today the university's students are mostly female. An administration which was remarkably warm to fraternity life became hostile. Skyrocketing tuition caused many fraternities to slash dues to unsustainable levels.  Since the 1980's epic battles were waged between fraternity alumni (a particularly important guiding force in the fraternity hostile environment of NYU) and administration. Eventually most fraternities returned, though on a much reduced scale. 

Students today appreciate the need for community and networks in the massive, competitive and impersonal university and city. Fraternities can supply guidance to get more out of college (parties, wing men, road trips to other school chapters, group trips, leadership opportunities, networking and housing with predictable housemates... things of that nature). Fraternities also provide more directly related academic and career benefits like mentoring, academic support and information, career and graduate school advice and job leads, a lifetime network at the chapter level, a lifetime network nationally and worldwide, and opportunities to get involved and contribute to the community without becoming over-extended.  While still lacking real university support, NYU fraternities are bringing in the highest numbers they have for the past ten years.  Those numbers aren’t evenly distributed however; there are winners and losers.

In Order of Appearance...

Alpa Epsilon Pi (aka AEPi),      Zeta Beta Tau (aka ZBT),      Sigma Alpha Mu, (aka Sammy),   

Pi Kappa Alpha (aka Pike),   Kappa Sigma (aka Kappa Sig),       Phi Gamma Delta (aka Fiji),    

Sigma Phi Epsilon (aka Sig Ep),       Tau Kappa Epsilon (aka Teke),       Delta Phi,        
Zeta Psi (aka Zate),       Psi Upsilon (aka Psi Up),          Delta Kappa Epsilon, (aka Deke)           

Phi Kappa Sigma,         Phi Iota Alpha, (Phiota)    Lambda Upsilon Lambda (aka LUL)     

Iota Nu Delta,    Nu Alpha Phi,              Pi Delta Psi,           Lambda Phi Epsilon          

Alpha Phi Alpha (aka Alphas),  Omega Psi Phi (aka Omegas),  Kappa Alpha Psi (aka Kappas), 

Phi Beta Sigma (aka Sigmas),         Lambda Chi Alpha (aka Lambda Chi)

The following descriptions are all in good fun and humor but in certain ways are a useful guide to fraternities if you can pick out the important information. And information is after all very important to you in the selection of a fraternity.  These are networks that will last you for life, and maybe beyond, in the fratcastles in the sky. Most of the information was supplied from members of the fraternities themselves, usually after a few drinks. If you want to fight about it meet us in Lafayette. We'll have on a hat with Greek letters.

Alpa Epsilon Pi (aka AEPi)

National Org: Large national

Types of guys: Jewish

Size: very large

Oldness/tradition:  20th century

Partying: Jewbilation (means lots of partying)

Hazing/pledging: moderate/high

Diversity: different kinds of Jewish count as diversity? Tri-state

Alumni will:  get you an internship or job with AIPAC, Goldman Sachs, in the U.S. state department or at the law firm of Cohen, Cohen and Cohen.   

House:  on campus

Tier:  upper

TV/Film character:   Dean Gordon "Cheese" Pritchard from Old School 

Princeton Review recognizes NYU as the nation’s Jewishest (?) school, particularly in undergrad enrollment.  AEPi is the Jewiest (to use a phrase borrowed from Jon Stewart) fraternity at NYU, or anywhere else this side of Tel Aviv.  Do the math.  If math is not your strong suit, you may want to skip the rest of this review and just rush TKE. (Go Teke!)  For those who are still reading, AEPi national brags about being at least 95% Jewish but they ain’t go nothin’ on the Alpha chapter. Yes, in these very environs, AEPi was founded at a then WASPy NYU eventually to become the biggest Jewish college fraternity in the country and they are also the biggest fraternity at NYU. All you hopeful issue of David’s loin, don’t go lining up just yet though.  It’s not so easy to get on this Schindler’s list of fraternities. (Too soon?) But those that do get chosen have pull with alumni trustees and tie-ins with everything from Chabad and the Israel on Campus Coalition, to Hillel and Birthright. The national young alumni chapter is to be found in Murray Hill. Or maybe it IS Murray Hill. AEPi treats ZBT as its friendly little brother and they cooperate on various events.

Zeta Beta Tau (aka ZBT)

National Org: Medium, national

Types of guys: Jewish neeks

Size:  medium

Oldness: 20th century

Partying: very moderate

Hazing/pledging: none

Diversity: Generally the same kind of Jewish guys and the occasional Judeo-phile. Northeast (we are in NY)

Alumni will: meet with you in Hillel and discuss your future as a Long Island dentist

House: none

Tier:  lower to middle

TV/Film character:   George Kastanza  from Seinfeld

“Who we be? ZBT" is the NYU chapter’s catchphrase.  Seriously?  I’ll give that two snaps up. "Who we be? Another Jewish fraternity" would be the better catchphrase.  Once known as the fraternity for the uppity chosen on campus, "zillions billions and trillions" got into some hot water and had to leave for a spell. Fun fact #1: brothers are called “Zebes”, rhymes with, well you know. Fun fact #2: ZBT goes further back at NYU than they seem to since they are the successors of Phi Sigma Delta, another Jewish fraternity that they subsumed.  Now they are back, although thoroughly a step down Jacob's ladder from AEPi.  They don't pledge. And they have the second highest GPA.  These guys however are not all books and papers. Far from it.  When summer rolls around, watch out - they plow through girls and there’s no stopping them.  But, don't think Swingers, think Rachel Corrie.  (Too soon again?) That’s right, pack your Uzi and a change of socks.  ZBT spends their summers in Israel and an NYU alumnus picks up the tab.  With all that going on, why pay to summer in the Hamptons?

Sigma Alpha Mu, (aka Sammy)

National Org: Small to medium, coastal/national

Types of guys: Jewish

Size:  Large

Oldness: 20th century

Partying: low

Hazing/pledging: Can’t call their mother during “hell week”

Diversity: Jewish and occasional token gentile Judeo-phile, occasional gay. Northeast 

Alumni will: give you a free trip to Jerusalem

House:  none

Tier:  lower

TV/Film character:  Kyle Schwartz (Kyle from South Park's cousin)

Sammy may or may not be operating underground at NYU but it got officially pulled for some mischief.  As you may know, uncharitable people, taking advantage of rhyme say "If you can't go Greek go TKE".  Well Jewish fraternities say if a Jew wants to go “Hammy then go Sammy".   This is not to say that Sammy is less Jewish (they also officially partner with Chabad, Hillel, Birthright and Israel on Campus Coalition nationally like AEPi and ZBT) but at NYU Sammy exists (or doesn’t exist, matters who is asking) only because ethnic organizations still don't always accept ALL of their kind. They still reject some, and that is where Sammy fits in. It wasn’t always this way. And Sammy undoubtedly is stinging with resentment. Sammy, back now at Columbia, is knocking on the IFC door of official recognition again so that may change their status in the not-too-distant future.

Pi Kappa Alpha (aka Pike)

National Org: Very Large, National

Types of guys: Jewish and non religious Middle Eastern biz majors, Jersey Shore wannabes

Size:  very large,  

Oldness: 20th century ,

Partying:  heavy,

Hazing/pledging: hard

Diversity:  Do swarthy men in shiny shirts and unpronounceable last names count as diversity?  Lots of guys from business, pre-business and surprisingly large number of Tischies, gay guys and particularly bi-sexuals. Occasional WASP who gets a release letter or goes non-payment.  Tri-state.

Alumni will:   tell you where to score some blow or addy and how to submit your first report as a junior analyst 

House:  on campus

Tier:  upper

TV/Film character:     Ali G from the Ali G Show

Known colloquially as PKA also Pike and members as Pikes.  Peace in the Middle East! Jews too cool for school, Israelis and a handful of other swarthy guys of (sort of Muslim) Middle Eastern origin and a few Indians (red dot not feather) as well as a couple of guys who lost their way going to some other fraternity.  Pike=stereotype threat: high alert.  It wasn’t always “business, blow, and b----es (or brolove, depending on the mood)”; Pike for years as a Southern based fraternity (founded at the Virginia) had exclusive racial and ethnic policies and emphasized being sedate gentlemen.  Then a well meaning change in policies triggered the law of unintended consequences and an equally narrow change in profile swept Pike like a devastating wave of techno music.  Now, at a Pike party everyone is Italian from Jersey, even the Jewish guys, the Middle Eastern guys and yes the Italians.  Okay they are not really Italians any more than Snooki and JWow but you get the idea.  Pikes will not drug and rape YOUR date contrary to the popular image. Their own dates, well... In reality there are plenty of guys in PKA that defy the regional Pike stereotype but who cares?  So lather up, get out your shiny dark button-down shirt, hair gel and axe body spray and head over to the penthouse. Just beware that those paddles aren’t for show. Pike goes it alone because they can, to the pounding beat of techno. Thump, thump thump...

Kappa Sigma (aka Kappa Sig)

National Org: Very Large, National

Types of guys: athletes, preppy types, brooks bros catalog, most of the athletes, campus pols and future ambitious (read greedy) people  

Size: Very large

Oldness:  19th century  

Partying: moderate to high

Hazing/pledging: low to moderate

Athletes, Stern, Econ, Poli Sci, Pre Med, Pre Law, Gallatin and lots of LSP guys transferring to the aforementioned.  WASPs, Buppies, Catholic school athletes, Catholic school Latinos (esp athletes), Middle Eastern junior potentates. Besides that the odd Steinhardt, non theater Tischie. National 

Alumni will:  Will write you a rec, find you a job, fill out your scholie application and make you a member of their New World Order if they like you.

House:  Off campus

Tier:  Upper

TV/Film character:  Patrick Bateman  from American Psycho

Kappa Sig was one of the big old fraternities, and for its early years it shared that identity with only Delta Upsilon before they left campus. Kappa Sig also shared exclusive policies with fraternities PKA and the smaller elitist fraternities at NYU, but their Virginia HQ was not as militant nor was the chapter. Long a business, law, military man and politicians fraternity Kappa Sigma at NYU also begin to create a schizo niche of members in engineering, medicine and the then-Division- I  sports teams. At the close of the Heights campus in the mid 70's, Kappa Sig lost its base. Sports were gutted. Engineering, architecture and ROTC closed. Kappa Sig could not make a comeback in the late 80's and 90's like some NYU fraternities. After several attempts Kappa Sig called it a day at NYU. Fortunately for them an NYU local fraternity merged with them several years ago and they have been back chasing varsity and club athletes, former prep, suburban and Catholic school athletes, Sternies, poli sci, econ majors, journalism, professional and grad tracked preppy-geeks (pre law and pre med); in general the moderately beefy or wiry, the blue blooded and the preternaturally ambitious. Inroads to the Middle Easterners that PKA misses- the Islamic Center crowd that occasionally smokes, drinks and chases poon but wouldn’t be caught dead in shiny clothing or PKA. A rumor of an East Asian Kappa Sig couldn’t be confirmed but if he's there he's an athlete.  Very Goyish, very “straight”, and all in all tight knit, fun and occasionally rowdy. Kappa Sig has a twist: they've ran a bartending school, a translating agency and several other businesses. Business minded but also friendly. Extremely alum driven. Alum allies in administration and just as many enemies probably. They aren’t recognized by the IFC and NYU OSA and no intention on changing that; it would hamper parties and aggressive rush tactics (the pledging is NYU's shortest but intense and they pull in extra classes). House in E. Village features pool table, bar/kegerator, piano, pong, taxidermy, fireplace and reputedly only two books- the "Preppy Handbook" and something by Tucker Max neither of which they see as satirical. When not putting others off with its rush shenanigans and skirt chasing, Kappa Sig stays close to the practice field or court and other fraternities, especially FIJI and the small fraternities.

Phi Gamma Delta (aka Fiji)

National Org: Medium to Large, National

Types of guys:  former athlete white guys, the occasional East and South Asian

Size: medium  

Oldness: 19th century  

Partying:  moderate 

Hazing/pledging:  moderate to hard

Diversity:  Variety of  majors including some Tischies, white athletes punctuated w east Asians, south Asians, Jews and a token black some years.

Alumni will:  show up for some pool or flag football if they're young enough. Will drink and bond.

House:  off campus

Tier:  upper

TV/Film character:    Cliff from Deadman on Campus

Interesting tidbit: NYU was the chapter that invented the term FIJI known in some parts also as Phi Gam.  Phi Gam or rather FIJI is generally traditional.  That’s not traditional like Delta Phi and Zeta Psi’s best bros try to be and Psi Upsilon will be remembered as being or DKE would like to be if they could have installed their chapter using a time machine and could find a pledge class now. NYU FIJI is traditional as in being a traditional fraternity in background and behavior.  Besides that, it is hard to pin FIJI down. There are no set of majors that dominate FIJI and it is just fine that way for them. With more than their share of former high school athletes they dominate NYU IFC games and rec leagues.  They are traditional like they've been around for longer at NYU than the newer to campus national fraternities (TKE, Sig Ep and PKA).  More importantly, they have always had a core, even in the thinnest of times, of guys who would lay the paddle and shut up about it when they needed to; and that core would be as "at home" in Texas or Cornell FIJI as they are not "at home" at NYU.  All in all, they are truly affable guys.  What varies for FIJI is the level of success they have keeping that active core's standards up.  Some substandard material slips in on a regular basis (universal problem at NYU fraternities) but FIJI straightens most of them out, and FIJI keeps its "right" up and stays jabbing. Good terms with everyone especially Kappa Sig, and smaller fraternities. Former rivalry with Psi Up was legendary.

Sigma Phi Epsilon (aka Sig Ep)
National Org: Very Large, National

Types of guys: techies and nice guys   

Size: medium  

Oldness: 19th century

Partying: low

Hazing/pledging: None

Diversity: Variety of majors, White guys with dose of Asians,  Jews and a few Hispanics

Alumni will:  Not want to talk to the current bros cuz what's a fraternity without an, ahem, "process".

House: none 

Tier: lower to medium

TV/Film character:   Sheldon Cooper PhD  from the Big Bang Theory

"Hey you know that guy?  He's a Sig Ep.”  Upon hearing that your mind may draw a blank, even if you knew who the person was before they said that.  Sigma Phi Epsilon, aka Sig Ep, proves if you are going to rage you should rage hard.  They didn't.  Consequently Sig Ep got into some hot water.  As one of the younger and less influential fraternities relatively speaking, it couldn't get out of said hot water, and as thus boiled in mediocrity.  After extricating themselves and losing a little skin (and by skin we mean respect from their older bros) they became a non pledging fraternity, a dubious distinction they share with ZBT. Are some Sig Eps slightly nerdy and partying averse?  Not in a harmful way.  That was just their "comeback" face. Now they are just nondescript which is probably another phase, since their national office tolerates fun like an Asian tolerates lactose.  Word is that these guys are actually looking to bring an experienced dungeon master in to the fold.  If you think you’re man enough to handle that challenge, rush this frat!  Really what they have is core of hard workers and if that equates to dungeon master status then every fraternity needs a few D&D experienced dudes. The future is uncertain. The core of smart, hard working and passably cool guys may or may not be enough to take them back to being the force they once were. If in a few years things settle down and the paddles and alumni come back you will be glad that you rushed them. If not who knows. Good terms with everyone, how can you dislike them?

Tau Kappa Epsilon (aka Teek)
National Org: Very Large National

Types of guys:  multi-culti

Size:  small, officially dormant

Oldness:  20th century

Partying:  low

Hazing/pledging:  none

Diversity: They were “opportunity program” diverse, including a few gay guys. National 

Alumni will:  take you to a hip hop club and tell you about a diversity program at their job or school

House:  none

Tier:  lower

TV/Film character:     Troy and Abed  from Community

Tau Kappa Epsilon, the large fraternity with the most unfortunate nickname TKE ("TEEK").  We've mentioned that damning rhyme before- if you can't go Greek go...   Nationally what has made that phrase devastating is that TKE went on one of those campaigns to be the "largest fraternity in the country" (it isn't the largest but is in the top ten). In this time TKE rushed any and everyone it could get its hands on, cutting dues and fees and maintaining no particular identity. TKE's best image was not so much as a fraternity but as a slick, impersonal nationally-run sales force; their websites are still shiny and made by the corporate office. At NYU where black fraternities and sororities left campus years ago after a nasty dispute (they still recruit citywide) TKE initially got a some black and Hispanic students along with a few white students who appreciated the multicultural atmosphere.  Unfortunately for TKE, some of the historically black fraternities returned to NYU with their city chapters and Hispanic fraternities were fully embraced by the university in the late 90s.  TKE didn't really get good numbers before at NYU before that, but now they have dropped to perilously low numbers that only the tiny old NYU fraternities maintain. A year or so ago, functionally, there were no brothers on campus.  Word is they are planning to make a run at their multi culti forgotten about sweet spot again so don't write them off. Rivalries and friendships with other fraternities postponed.

Delta Phi
National Org: Small, Regional

Types of guys:  regular guys not many athletes diverse majors

Size:  small

Oldness:   19th century

Partying: moderate to hard

Hazing/pledging: moderate to hard

Diversity: WASP, ethnic Catholic, Jewish w a dose of Asian and generally well to do. Variety of majors. National

Alumni will:  be there if they try to kick you off campus and will meet up for drinks and pass along job leads and a sense of unrivaled continuous chapter fraternal history

House:  off campus

Tier:  upper

TV/Film character:     Andy Bernard aka Nard Dog from Office Space

Delta Phi, aka sometimes St. Elmo, never known as DPhi so we’ll call them that. The third chapter and arguably the oldest continuing social Greek fraternity chapter in the nation, as they are given to remind people, DPhi is just a touch snooty.  They would be far more sustainably snooty if they could stop snubbing the guy that comes to their rush.  But, in the midst of NYU's hoi polloi, DPhi has a warm and milky brotherhood and more history at NYU than any other fraternity, though that's arguable, again, with Psi Upsilon. (It’s not really arguable we just like to piss off DPhi who will tell you like us that Psi Up is in the coffin.  We even think that Delta Phi should officially chop off Psi Upsilon’s head like the Highlander and inherit all of its remaining powers of snootiosity.) DPhi has generally had excellent and tenacious leadership and great alumni guidance in what is otherwise a loose but apparently fun brotherhood.  The fraternity has an off campus apartment, one of only a few fraternities that do and it is appropriately in the West Village and is rumored to have plans to add on a Turkish bath.  This reference is of course to  the infamous Leroy Mansion (not a mansion by any means, though plenty of Frosh girls come through to get service from these young butlers).  Having said all that, these guys still have a place in NYU lore for holding up the middle finger to NYU administration and striking out on their own whenever they need to.  Delta Phi is a righteous little brotherhood but beware, for mostly NARPs they really swing the wood and make their process a challenge. Generally friendly with everyone except GDI's but they aren't alone in that regard.

Zeta Psi, (aka Zete) 

National Org: Small, Regional

Types of guys:  Quiet assorted guys not many athletes

Size: small/moderate 

Oldness: 19th century 

Partying: low 

Hazing/pledging: moderate   

Diversity: Italian, Irish, other ethnic Catholic, Jewish, Asian occasional Wasp, any middle class Tristate neighborhood.   Lots of pre-professional program students, some business.

Alumni will: be there if they try to kick your chapter off campus,  

House: none

Tier: middle

TV/Film character:   Peter Gibbons from Office Space 

They just seem like the guys PKA turned away for refusing to take their balls out and show them a la the movie “In the Company of Men”.  And good for them! They are in fact an honorable old fraternity with the further honor of being founded at NYU in the early years of the university by one of the secret societies.  One of the small, regionally based fraternities, bracketed with Psi Upsilon and Delta Phi, just with less gilding, and more mousiness.  To their credit, they keep the ghastly red-shirt-black-tie-to-a-Wall-Street-interview types away mostly.  Okay they don’t.  But they teach most of the guys to dress and behave more appropriately which is almost as good.  They are inward looking and seemingly tight knit.  Small brotherhood, so small you might not see them.  But size doesn’t matter, or at least that's what THEY say.  Friendly with everyone in an isolated sort of way.

Psi Upsilon (aka Psi Up)

National Org: Small, Regional

Types of guys:  were rich WASP, then Jewish, then South Asian and hippie women

Size:  how long will they keep their charter with >two members

Oldness:   19th century oldest

Partying:  alum own neighborhood bar and party but not with active members

Hazing/pledging:  moderate to hard historically

Diversity: allowed women members, considered going all Asians and/or gay before end

Alumni will: be discussing the good old days over dinner far from any actives, some while wearing a monocle

House:  none

Tier:  none, dizzying fall from empyrean heights though

TV/Film character:     Gilbert (pronounced "zhil-BEAR") Dauterive aka Bill's cousin from King of the Hill

Normally at this time of year there is a buzz throughout Psi Upsilon as they eagerly await the new class of smooth young boys to attend rush.  However, no longer content to practice ancient traditions shared between the men and boys of ancient Greece, the oldest fraternity at NYU and one of the oldest and most distinguished in the country has gone co-ed, at least for now.  Fears of inappropriate “fraternization” between male and female members that had surfaced around the idea of going co-ed turned out to be unfounded.  Addressing the issue, a female member was recently quoted as saying “At first I was apprehensive about pledging.  I expected to get hit on constantly.  It’s not like that though, these guys are my sisters.  We’re like a house of sisters.  It’s an amazing thing!” All jokes aside, for years Psi Upsilon ruled the NYU roost, with most members of the secret societies, the best physical houses, and the bluest of blue bloods. The last decade or so hasn't been easy. With most WASPs gone from NYU Psi Up became largely Jewish.  After a battle of Psi Up vs NYU, Inc. wound up with Psi Up losing the historic Poe House, numbers plummeted. They brought in a Sikh fellow who promptly tried to use his relationship as the last active person in Psi Up to go co-ed and “recruit” women, apparently for himself rather than Psi Up, making said women recruits say “yuck”. Now however, this fraternity, which is no longer in the IFC or recognized by NYU, exists in the rare atmosphere occupied only by DKE, aka “the imagination”.  There may be one or two brother-sisters walking about campus but they aren't doing anything related to their organization.  This strengthens Delta Phi's assertion that Psi Upsilon, the fraternity that was about as old as the university itself, is really no longer active thus making Delta Phi the oldest continuous chapter of any fraternity in the nation. Dwell on THAT. A dead Psi Up is better than bleeding over their illustrious history.  Rivalries and friendships a thing of the past.

Delta Kappa Epsilon, (aka Deke)

National Org: Medium, National

Types of guys: Jews, Italians, Irish and a few WASPs and other assorted folks in assorted majors from econ to business to experimental theater and comic book illustration

Size: how long will they keep charter without actives

Oldness: chartered in 90's

Partying: do alumni count?

Hazing/pledging: formerly moderate to hard

Diversity: Besides the core, a number of Asians and Gay guys, a token African

Alumni will: be at the Yale club trying to talk to Deke alum from other chapters

House: none

Tier: Lower

TV/Film character:   Colonel Carl Jenkins from Starship Troopers

Also known as DKE, Deke and members Dekes. Presidents Bush I, Bush II and Ford were Dekes and some Dekes speculate so was George Washington and King George III.  EVERYONE is a Deke, just ask a Deke. Wait, there are no Dekes.  The second youngest of NYU mainstream fraternities DKE was established in the 90's which for NYU's venerable fraternity community is like being inaugurated this morning, around brunch.  And then no one showed for dinner. Dekes' fault is that they had that type of diversity where mostly people knew each other and cared about the national fraternity but didn’t particularly care about or like each other. DKE failed to realize having tools for members is perfectly acceptable when everyone is a tool but not when just a good portion are tools. The chapter’s leadership tended to be climbers and resume puffers in recent years which sealed their fate.  Their best bet is to put the operations in a single person’s hands who cares with the help of non-NYU alum and to work with their national office and to cut off all the rest of the alumni from engaging with it. Otherwise dissension will continue to freeze any comeback. Many people in the fraternity community were glad to see them go, particularly the smaller fraternities.

Phi Kappa Sigma

National Org: Small, Regional

Types of guys:  Nondescript, with no real history

Size:  Very small

Oldness:   Celebrating their one week anniversary on campus

Partying:  Hey guys, we’re new, what’s a party?

Hazing/pledging:  none

Diversity: 6 nondescript Jewish and White kids in Tisch, GSP and God knows

Alumni will: Hey guys, we’re new, what’s alumni?

House:  none

Tier:  starting from the bottom there’s no place to go but up, or down

TV/Film character:   Howard from Big Bang Theory

The Phi Kaps have fashion themselves as Skulls, thereby choosing ultra generic imagery of collegiate fraternities unfortunately worn further into the dust by B movies and spoofs of B movies.  It would be sad but likely that these "skulls" will be biting that same dust at NYU. It is an interesting decision to start a fraternity of 6 guys at a school where fraternities don’t pull many people even with niches, and at a school with some of the longest fraternal history known to American college man (species nohomo alwayserectus).  History means something, alumni mean something, respect means something, pledging means something and size means something in the fraternity world; and no less so at NYU. There are four other small regional fraternities with far more prestige as chapters and as overall fraternities to chose from at the university.  They have no friends or enemies cuz it's not enough going on for other fraternities to be interested at this point.

Phi Iota Alpha

National Org: Small to medium, regional

Types of guys:  Hispanic guys, especially from South American background who are serious about cultural, historical and political issues while also supporting revolution. A good number of Latino HEOP and LUCHA participants.

Size:  Medium

Oldness:   Mid 90’s

Partying:  Fiesta like there’s no mañana

Hazing/pledging:  military

Diversity: Latinos from different countries of origin and maybe the odd mixed kid, Italian and Filipino. NYC and immediate surroundings.

Alumni will: Plot the revolution with you and join in on pro Latino causes.

House:  none

Tier:  middle

TV/Film character:   There is no such thing as a Latino male TV/Film character

Phi Iota Alpha, aka Phiota has had less problems staying on campus as a recognized group than its friendly Latino fraternity rival LUL.  Whatever the reason for that, Phiota is probably the fraternity that you want to join if you also want to get a minor in Latin American and Third World history or you hope, at least spiritually, to replicate the life of Che Guevara.  Phiota is the oldest Latino college fraternity, and reaches even further into Latin American history, taking their philosophical cues from Latin American libertadores. They have a defined identity like other fraternities but they also are politically aware and involved (well at least a core of members are involved). This Latino fraternity has a definite agenda in a way that only the Jewish fraternities on campus do, though obviously Phiota doesn’t have the same pull.  Most students will recognize Phiota as the guys in red, gold and blue (the Bolivaran colors chosen apparently to blind the gringos), likely protesting things like  “Find the Immigrant Day”.  Insert joke here.

Lambda Upsilon Lambda

National Org: Small to medium, Regional

Types of guys:  Hispanic guys, especially from Caribbean background, HEOP and LUCHA.

Size:  Small

Oldness:   Mid 90’s

Partying:  Fiesta like there’s no mañana, unless there is an   GRE, LSAT or MCAT class

Hazing/pledging:  military, special forces

Diversity: Latinos from different countries of origin and maybe the odd mixed kid, Italian and Filipino. NYC and immediate surroundings.

Alumni will: Plot the revolution with you and join in on pro Latino causes, especially if one of those causes is getting into a big name graduate school.

House:  none

Tier:  middle

TV/Film character:   There is no such thing as a Latino TV/Film character

LUL is not an esoteric Greek phrase but the initials of a Latino group formerly at Cornell, "Los Unidos Latinos", transliterated to Greek initials Lambda Upsilon Lambda.  Still does not erase that it sounds like the gay fraternity on the Revenge of the Nerds. “How Chew Doooin’?”  But these are some pretty hard and determined guys and they help their members transition into the white collar world; no red-dress-shirts-and-black-polyester-tie combos to be found. LUL worked with the Alpha chapter of the first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha to develop a new Latino fraternity which targeted top tier schools and made their goal uplifting of Hispanics through upward mobility and community responsibility.  Part of what LUL adopted from Alpha Phi Alpha was its business like and conservative demeanor, the “talented tenth” philosophy (if there was a talented tenth affirmative action program.) They also adapted the black fraternity's regimented pledging process, adding to it to give a Latin flavor (is that made by Goya?) and character. Pledging includes “stepping” and hand-signs are used.  LUL also uses the approach of both citywide and campus based chapters, and after some work in the 1990’s they developed the Omicron chapter at NYU.  Seeing some of their bizarre pledging ritual might scare off the faint of heart.  Take courage interested young Latinos, the infamous wood swinging and open handed “thunderclaps” of historically black fraternities are set aside for more regimented and synchronized stuff.  These guys get out to good parties, and throw some pretty good ones too, often in concert with Phiota and the Latina sororities.

Not ranked:

Ethnic and lifestyle fraternities under the Multicultural Greek Council have recently expanded to include Iota Nu Delta, Nu Alpha Phi, Pi Delta Psi, Lambda Phi Epsilon (these are a South Asian, two East Asian and a Gay fraternity respectively.) Suffice to say that these fraternities are VERY South Asian, East Asian or Gay.  And no we are not going to reference Harold and Kumar because that would be trite.

East Asians and Indian students from New York are more likely than anyone to get passed up for a bid or are made to feel uncomfortable or even more likely, just feel uncomfortable themselves.  Moreover, these students are likely as not to be inner city guys who have more in common with Phiota or LUL members from Queens than the typical members of “mainstream” fraternities. In a short time they’ve done a remarkable job at making a home for their mixture of urban and ethnic culture. Think of a turban (or a Hello Kitty skully) and wife beater and a sag. These fraternities are patterned more after black fraternities in some ways in terms of pledging, programming, “stepping”, calls and hand signs. Their interaction tends to be thoroughly anchored in their ethnic communities on and off campus. We make jokes of course but they are really solid orgs. Shame their members didn’t give it more of a go with the traditional fraternities though.

The new gay fraternity has mostly included the more “campy” gay guys.  (We actually don't know what "campy" means but it seemed to fit.) Demographics work in their favor, perhaps too much so. They are like a white fraternity in Sweden. At what is practically a gay school full of gay cliques, is there a need for another gay group? Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

Four of the
traditionally black fraternities recruit from NYU: Alpha Phi Alpha aka Alphas, Omega Psi Phi aka Omegas, Kappa Alpha Psi aka Kappas, Phi Beta Sigma aka Sigmas.  They operate citywide, usually based at Columbia. NYU graduate school members play a significant role as do their alumni. Some of these fraternities once had chapters going back almost one hundred years at NYU but the administration today has been pretty hostile to them. Other than that, it really is a separate story.

And notably, back from over from Polytech with the re-merger, Lambda Chi Alpha aka Lambda Chi (nice looking house in Brooklyn, strong alumni, engineers that are slightly nerdy, largely Asian, no pledging) and they are recruiting in WSq.  It is too early to tell how any of this will pan out.

The two business fraternities (both Alpha chapters) operate as de facto co-ed Asian "fraternities" as well, i.e., Alpha Kappa Psi and Delta Sigma Pi.  Phi Chi Theta while technically co-ed operates has been re-purposed as an Asian sorority.  Apparently this follows a national trend that started a decade ago where Asian students throughout the country followed some coordinated plan to bloc rush these organizations and utilize them as ethnic GLOs. Good for them but it would be much cooler if they renamed each Fu Manchu, Mandarin and Yellow Claw.  Not really our subject but it is worth mentioning that NYU may be the only place where business fraternities get suspended for hazing (look it up) and have on campus fraternity housing.

Conclusion: Both city and school can be very isolating so it not surprising that micro-communities thrive.  Despite or because of its size and location the school can leave students unmoored and even disaffected.
NYU doesn’t have a much to bring it together like big time athletics or a traditional campus or fraternity.  As for the city, the best places to go in the city "card hard", thus putting fun in your face but just out of reach.   Without these communities a lot of people would be left out.  In New York where status, hook ups, networking and all things exclusive are a way of life these organizations make a big difference.  Just find the organization that fits and you'll be fine.

Note: Everything is subject to change, especially the the housing situation. From year to year and sometimes semester to semester, due to housing policies and the vagaries of rental agreements in lower Manhattan a fraternity may find itself in an NYU house close to Washington Square. It may be in possession of two floors of a dodgy walk up or they walking around with their asses in their hands.  Such is big city fratting. 

Also note: TNE, and Eucleian and Philomathean and one or two clubs draw heavily from from Greek life or put members into Greek organizations that they have relationships with. These organizations are formally independent but have strong informal pull with some faculty and administrators; they are by function secret societies with a very long history.  There is also a new university sponsored society called the Red Dragons but it publishes its roster and therefore is not secret and from the list does not seem to draw much from Greek life and any cross membership is incidental. It appears the re-instituted Red Dragon was brought about by some administrators who worried about the actual secret societies being independent and having too much informal pull.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cowboy Haze Continues the Ivy League Rodeo

All the stories below take out the other aspects of brotherhood and methods to develop this pretty fucking terrific thing called fraternalism. These fraternities are trying to produce a an invaluable commodity, the type of men who are needed in highly competitive and risk-laden environment, which is the environment that all of us will live in in one way or the other.

Putting aside the gross shit in the article, we know why they do what they are doing, and understood from that perspective it isn't as irrational as it is made out to be.  Liberal hypocrisy and intellectual perversity instead drove these things underground but could not eradicate the (individual and societal) need or organic reemergence of a process to fulfill this need.

They are selecting guys from shared values and background, encouraging totally commitment through bonding by ordeal, shared challenge and intimacy (pause); and instilling values such as discretion, discipline, perseverance, accountability, fearlessness, confidence and mind over matter.

By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press – 1 day ago  Ivy League senior: Frat pledges swam in vomit

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Things have only gotten messier at Dartmouth College in the weeks since a former fraternity member went public with allegations of hazing that involved swimming in and eating vomit.

Senior Andrew Lohse raised the issue in January, when he wrote a column in the school newspaper describing "dehumanizing" experiences he witnessed at Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

According to Lohse, the fraternity pressured pledges to swim in a kiddie pool of rotten food, vomit and other bodily fluids; eat omelets made of vomit; and chug cups of vinegar. He called those activities the norm rather than the exception on the Ivy League campus, and he criticized the administration for not doing enough when he made anonymous complaints last year.

The week after the column was published, more than 100 faculty members wrote to the administration, describing hazing as an "open secret" and calling on the administration to set up an independent commission to address it. The college has since formed a task force and brought hazing charges through its judicial affairs office against the fraternity and more than a quarter of its members, including Lohse.

As for Lohse's graphic allegations, "None of these practices, and nothing remotely close to hazing, occurred at our pledge events in 2011," Mahoney said in an email to The Associated Press.

Lohse did not specify in his column whether all alleged abuses occurred in 2009 or later, and he declined to comment Monday, citing an agreement with another publication., a blog written by former students about the college, obtained a copy of the letter notifying Lohse of the charges against him. According to the letter, Lohse is accused of threatening physical harm to new fraternity members, putting other students in fear for their safety and/or engaging in hazing during the fall 2011 term. He also is accused of providing alcohol to underage students, providing drugs and/or providing alcohol to obviously intoxicated individuals during the same time period.

The charges filed were identical for the other individuals, "even though Lohse's tale does not describe them as engaged in the same activities," said Mahoney, who said students have been charged "without a shred of real evidence." Administrators, he suggested, are panicking in the face of bad press.

"We do know that Dartmouth has come in for a lot of bad publicity because of Lohse's allegations. We hope Dartmouth's administration will focus on the evidence rather than on a public relations strategy," he said.

Johnson, the college administrator, strongly denied both Lohse's allegation that the college failed to act on his initial complaints and Mahoney's suggestion that the recent charges were brought to quell criticism.

"When we get detailed, specific information regarding hazing or any other violation of our code, we act," she said. "This isn't a witch hunt, nor are we sitting on our hands."

She said the administration already had been working hard to tackle the issue of hazing and was not simply responding to the recent allegations and faculty pressure.

For example, the college hired a new director of Greek organizations who had been credited with turning around the fraternity and sorority system at another college, has hired two sexual assault coordinators and is in the process of hiring another alcohol and drug abuse counselor.

"Clearly we put our resources where our mouth is," she said. "This idea that we have somehow thrown up our hands, said there's nothing we can do about hazing or other high risk behavior going on on college campuses is a complete mischaracterization."

Johnson also said college officials did everything they could when Lohse made his anonymous complaints, but the tips he provided didn't pan out.

Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone, who also investigated at the time, agreed. Based on information Lohse provided, police set up a stakeout in a wooded area in December 2010 but nothing they witnessed among pledges and SAE members amounted to hazing, he said. Police began investigating again after Lohse's column was published, but criminal charges are unlikely, Giaccone said, in large part because Lohse is not cooperating with police.

"We also realized that based on his past history with us, that he may be a witness that would have credibility issues, and it may hard to rehabilitate him in the eyes of judge or jury if we ended up going that route," Giaccone said.

Those credibility issues include Lohse's 2010 arrest and conviction for cocaine possession and witness tampering and a 2011 disorderly conduct conviction, following a confrontation with a security officer during Homecoming Weekend festivities.

"The opinion of most students is that he has a bone to pick with both the college and SAE," said Stephanie Pignatiello, a senior who said that while she believes hazing happens, she thinks Lohse's claims are greatly exaggerated. But she also agrees with him that the college hasn't done much to solve the problem.

"They seem to be largely absent," she said. "I don't think much will change at the administrative level."

Sophomore Stuart Ghafoor said reading Lohse's condensed description of hazing was "gross," but not a surprise. He thinks SAE is being scapegoated so the college can appear to be doing something to address hazing.

"But if the administration goes after it, it could make it even more underground, which would be more dangerous," he said.


In the Hot Seat: Hazing at Princeton

One night during the fall of his freshman year, John Burford ’12 found himself at the Show & Tel strip club on the south side of Philadelphia with  other Princeton freshmen. All were pledge brothers in Princeton’s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and they had made the 45-mile trip south because Burford had specific instructions from the older brothers in the fraternity: Make a visit to “the hot seat.”
Surrounded by his pledge brothers and 40 other club patrons, Burford climbed onto the stage and selected a stripper. She removed his shirt, handcuffed him to a tall metal pole in the middle of the stage and began to beat him with a thick leather belt volunteered by one of his pledge brothers.

“Then they put me in this chair and handcuffed my hands behind my back,” Burford said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. “She would give me a lap dance and then hit me. And then she bit my nipple, really hard. I had a black, bite-shaped bruise there for three weeks.”

Burford’s trip to the strip club was only one of several pledge tasks he needed to complete before he could become a full member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, though he ultimately decided to drop the fraternity rush during the winter of his freshman year, before the pledge period ended that spring.

Though fraternity hazing exercises may violate both University rules and state laws, often combining heavy drinking by minors with other illegal activities, the University neither officially recognizes nor actively engages with any of the Greek organizations on campus. Former fraternity members interviewed for this article told the ‘Prince’ that the University’s lack of oversight exacerbates these activities, but President Tilghman said she does not think recognizing Greek organizations would help the administration significantly influence members’ behavior.

The fraternity Burford rushed, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, is one of at least 13 Greek organizations — three sororities and at least 10 fraternities —at Princeton. But University administrators have long maintained a policy of not recognizing these groups.

“I fundamentally believe that it’s impossible to regulate the very things that we are most concerned about with fraternities … which are the excessive alcohol and the hazing,” Tilghman said. “The notion that recognizing them will fix that — all you have to do is look at episodes that happen all over this country at universities that have recognized their fraternities and sororities to know that this is chasing fool’s gold.”

Though fraternity hazing is by no means unique to Princeton, some students and alumni said they believe University recognition might improve the situation on campus.

“Hazing was a problem for fraternities at Princeton. This is in large part due to the lack of recognition and regulation from the University,” said Evan Baehr ’05, a former member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. “By not recognizing the fraternities, it leaves the officers of the fraternities to have zero oversight.”

The University’s “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” (RRR) guide outlines an even more specific hazing policy, prohibiting “a broad range of behaviors that may place another person in danger of bodily injury or behavior that demonstrates indifference or disregard for another person’s dignity or well-being.” Examples of hazing listed in RRR include forced ingestion of alcohol, food, drugs or “any undesirable substance,” as well as mentally abusive or demeaning behavior, acts that could result in physical, mental, or emotional harm, and physical abuse in the form of whipping, paddling, beating or exposure to the elements.

Fraternity rush activities at Princeton run the gamut from harmless, silly tasks to more serious, potentially dangerous challenges. Some of the most visible examples include pledges from various fraternities streaking through large lecture classes and Kappa Alpha pledges standing outside McCosh Hall all day dressed as Secret Service agents.

Sororities tend to have tamer pledge requirements than fraternities. Frances Schendle ’06, who joined Kappa Alpha Theta when she was a freshman, recalled that new members were required to be “on call” one night per week to run errands for the older sisters.

“Older girls could call on us to do things like go to Frist and buy a bag of candy and come eat it with them while watching ‘Sex and the City,’ ” she said. “The activities we had to go through as a pledge were meant to foster bonding as a class.”

One senior, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, recalled his experience rushing, explaining that pledges were required to make trips to Philadelphia, where they had to complete tasks like peeing on the University of Pennsylvania’s famed “Split Button” sculpture or receiving a lap dance from a black stripper. Other pledges, the senior said, were forced to crawl around in the Mathey Courtyard and pretend to be cows by eating grass and mooing loudly.

Some fraternity pledge tasks, however, are more dangerous, often involving underage binge drinking.
“Usually I was drunk three or four nights a week — not really that often, I guess, compared to some people,” Burford said. “On average, I threw up once a day for my entire first semester... not every day, but once or twice a week, I would throw up multiple times.”

Burford was not the only member of his pledge class who was forced to consume excessive amounts of alcohol.

Brandon Weghorst, the associate executive director of communications for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon national organization, said the fraternity maintains “strict regulations” for its more than 200 chapters across the country.

“Each group creates its own pledge program for new members, but our Fraternity Laws spell out stringent guidelines in order to provide the best experience possible for our new members,” Weghorst said in an e-mail. “Sigma Alpha Epsilon does not condone hazing or any other illegal activity and provides educational resources for all of our members to combat hazing or inappropriate behavior.” Weghorst declined to comment on specific allegations about the Princeton chapter.

Kyle O’Donovan ’11, who is listed on the website of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization as the official contact for the Princeton chapter, declined to comment for this article.

Tilghman said hazing and binge drinking in fraternities have long been major concerns for University trustees. “[In spring 2005] one of our trustees said something that has certainly lingered in my mind and in the minds of the trustees: ‘Would we be having a different conversation if a student had just died?’ ” she recalled.

Burford explained that Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s hazing activities during his four months of rush were crazy.

“There was stuff that was crazy … and sometimes illegal that they made everybody do, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t mind that much,” he explained. “Then there’s the category where it was just completely humiliating, and they were definitely singling me out and trying to hurt me. That was not cool.”

And it wasn’t just physical. “Not only do they haze you physically, but they also haze you mentally,” he said. “We would do something exactly right, and they would make up something that we did wrong and haze us over it. You get worried that every time you’re gonna do something, you’re gonna get yelled at. Even now, I still don’t really like to check my e-mail.”

Well into the rush process, Burford wasn’t completing his tasks as well or as quickly as his pledge brothers, and he often got sick from his frequent vomiting. That meant he was regularly singled out by the fraternity’s older brothers.

One night in early December 2008, it all came to a head. The older brothers took the pledges to Springdale Golf Course, behind Forbes College, and gave each a gallon of milk. Except for Burford.

“They gave me a doughnut and a hot coffee,” Burford recalled. “They told me, ‘Burford, sit down, just relax, enjoy yourself. You’ve been fucking your other pledge brothers over, just sitting on your ass while they’re doing all the work, so this is just one more example of that.’ ”

The older members then made the other pledges chug milk and run wind sprints repeatedly across the golf course.

“They threw up, like, 15 or 20 times,” Burford said of his pledge brothers. “And they said specifically, ‘Guys, when you’re feeling like shit right now, remember: It’s Burford’s fault.’ ”

Then one of the senior brothers, known within the fraternity as “the pledge educator,” who was chewing tobacco turned to Burford and offered him a chance at redemption, handing the freshman a Dr. Pepper bottle with tobacco "juice". “Burford, if you chug this thing in one go, everybody can go home,” Burford recalled the senior brother saying. “We’ll put all this behind us. You’ll have redeemed yourself.”

“Swallowing chewing tobacco pretty much instantly makes you throw up … so none of them thought I could do it,” Burford said. Still, he took the bottle and managed to drink all of its contents in one chug. “Then [the senior brother] was just, like, ‘Psych!’ and he made them continue,” Burford explained. “And I was just, like, ‘This is so fucked up.’ ”

The entire event — and Burford’s physical illness when the nicotine reached his bloodstream minutes later — marked the first time he considered dropping out of the rush process. He didn’t quit, though, instead using the three weeks of winter break to rest and recover at home from his first semester of Princeton life. When he returned to campus in January 2009, he felt ready to see the rush process through to the end.

Soon after their return, Burford and his pledge brothers were told to strip naked and go swimming in an icy pond at the same golf course behind Forbes.

“We had to break the ice on the pond,” Burford recalled. “We almost got hypothermia.”

But the older members warned the pledges that the worst was yet to come. One January night, the pledge brothers were blindfolded and taken into a small dorm room in Cuyler Hall, where they were forced to sit silently, listening to a death metal song blasting on repeat.

“They put us in this room, and they were, like, ‘Don’t move, don’t say anything,’ ” Burford recalled. “They put on this death metal, and it was also really hot, and we still had on all our cold weather stuff. So, of course, we’re burning up. And every five minutes, one of them would come in and pour beer on us or kick us or throw a beer can at us.”
Tilghman said she doubts that the administration could successfully regulate Greek organizations, even if it recognized them.
“[Because we don’t recognize Greek organizations] we lose the potential for regulating the behavior that most concerns us,” she said. “Because I’m a skeptic, I think that potential is a low potential. But it’s not zero.”

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Freedom of Association, It's Your Right.

The message is clear- your freedom of association is challenged by reliance upon the university, urge your national office to forgo recognition of unfriendly universities.   Ultimately however, it is up to the chapters to do what they need to, whether by passive resistance (maintaining policies that suits them without fanfare) or finding new independent or locally and regionally cooperative models to maintain freedom of association. End the tyranny.-NFFY

A Clash of Rights

Public colleges' anti-bias policies have been taking a beating in the courts in recent years. Various federal courts have said that the policies can't be used to deny recognition to Christian student groups -- even if those groups explicitly discriminate against those who are gay or who don't share the faith of the organizations.

Many lawyers who advise colleges, even some who deplore these rulings, have urged colleges to recognize that the force of their anti-bias policies has been severely weakened. Students' First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and expression will end up trumping strong anti-bias principles, or so the emerging conventional wisdom has gone.

But an unusual decision from a federal appeals court on Thursday is challenging that conventional wisdom. The decision upheld the right of a public college -- the College of Staten Island, of the City University of New York -- to deny recognition to a fraternity because it doesn't let women become members. In ruling as it did, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the college's anti-bias rules served an important state function -- and a function that was more important than the limits faced by a fraternity not being recognized.

In a statement that some educators view as long overdue from the courts, the Second Circuit said that a public college "has a substantial interest in making sure that its resources are available to all its students."
Further, and this is important because many college anti-bias policies go beyond federal requirements, the court said that it didn't matter that federal law has exceptions for fraternities and sororities from gender bias claims. "The state's interest in prohibiting sex discrimination is no less compelling because federal anti-discrimination statutes exempt fraternities," the court said.

Some legal experts view last week's ruling as a blip -- a result perhaps of unusual circumstances in the case, or a trio of judges who happened to see the issue in a different way. An appeal is almost certain. But rulings by federal appeals courts become law in their regions and precedents that can be cited everywhere. And some lawyers, especially those trying to defend college anti-bias laws, say that the decision could be significant.

In the new ruling, "the court is saying there's no question but that the government has a substantial interest in eradicating discrimination and it recognizes that non-discrimination policies that condition funding interfere [with students' rights] only to a limited degree, and that's exactly the issue in our case," said Ethan P. Schulman, a lawyer for the University of California Hastings College of Law.

A federal judge ruled last year that Hastings was within its rights to deny recognition to the campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society, which barred from the group students who engage in “unrepentant homosexual conduct." Based on other rulings, the Christian group has appealed, but Schulman said that the Second Circuit's finding showed that colleges should not abandon tough anti-bias policies (as many have, when faced with similar legal challenges).

"Ultimately it may well be that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to decide these issues," Schulman said. "But right now I think it's a mistake for colleges and universities to assume that they should abandon strongly held policies of non-discrimination."

Other lawyers had a range of predictions on what will happen as a result of the Second Circuit ruling. Some anticipate a quick reversal. Others see a new front in the culture wars, with anti-Greek educators seizing on the ruling to attack fraternities -- and lawmakers rushing to protect the Greek system. Others say that non-Greek, single sex organizations on public campuses -- think about a cappella singing groups -- could find themselves under scrutiny. And others think that the fight over Christian groups that discriminate against those who don't share their beliefs is about to get much more intense.

With so much potentially at stake, there is some irony about the origins of the case at a CUNY campus. CUNY colleges generally don't house students, and Greek systems, to the extent they exist at all, are small and off campus. The lawsuit challenging CUNY's anti-bias rules was filed by a new branch of Alpha Epsilon Pi, which was seeking recognition as an official student organization at the College of Staten Island. Such status would, among other things, allow the group to receive funds, publicize and hold events on campus, obtain a campus mailbox. The fraternity's members said that their organization didn't permit the inclusion of women, and that adding women would alter the nature of the group. Fraternity leaders testified that havine women as members might lead to romance and "inevitable jealousies." Even lesbians could be problematic, the fraternity said, because having a female member is "an issue itself."

The fraternity sued CUNY, arguing that its rejection of the chapter on grounds of sex discrimination violated its right to "associative freedom" under the First Amendment. That argument carried the day at the district court level, which issued an injunction against enforcement of the anti-bias rule.

But the appeals court found that the fraternity was claiming associative rights (which offer some protection to groups with common beliefs and interests) while opening many of its events to non-members. In essence, the appeals court found that the fraternity members couldn't claim to be selective about who they hang out with, while boasting about how open an organization they have created. Further, the court noted that the fraternity was free to meet off campus with its own money -- and that the college had legitimate reason to enforce its anti-bias rules.

In just about every way, this take differed from the analysis applied by a federal appeals court  recently in a case over the right of the Christian Legal Society to be recognized at Southern Illinois University. In that case, an appeals court found that the society's right to religious freedom and free expression were violated by a university ban on support for groups that discriminated against gay people.

“CLS’s beliefs about sexual morality are among its defining values; forcing it to accept as members those who engage in or approve of homosexual conduct would cause the group as it currently identifies itself to cease to exist,” says that decision. “What interest does SIU have in forcing CLS to accept members whose activities violate its creed other than eradicating or neutralizing particular beliefs contained in that creed?”

Given that differing analysis -- and the longstanding tradition of single-sex fraternities and sororities -- what does the latest decision mean?

Timothy M. Burke, a lawyer who wrote a brief for the court on behalf of the North American Interfraternity Conference, called the decision "surprising and frankly disappointing." He said he hoped that the fraternity in Staten Island would win on appeal, perhaps by stressing its Jewish roots to win some of the protection courts have granted to Christian fraternities. But Burke acknowledged that most fraternities and sororities couldn't make a religious claim.

And that's why he's worried. "There has not been a huge clamor out there to change a system that's been in place for well over 150 years," he said. Further, the fact that fraternities and sororities were specifically exempted from federal gender bias laws shows that there is a broad consensus that their single-sex status shouldn't be challenged, he said.

Attacking fraternities at public universities is especially unfair, Burke said, in light of the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Healy v. James that upheld the right of Students for a Democratic Society to be recognized as an official group at public campuses. "It's a simple argument," he said. "If the SDS has to be recognized, then organizations like Chi Omega and Sigma Pi ought to have that right."

David French, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said that the Staten Island decision was decided incorrectly and that he was "moderately concerned" about it. French's group has been a major player in challenging the enforcement of public colleges' anti-bias policies against religious groups. Because the groups he is representing make an argument beyond associative rights, going to religious expression, French said he didn't see a legal threat.

But he said that "perverse incentives" were created by the court. That is because the judges faulted the fraternity for wanting protection while also conducting many activities with a broad group of students. "That reasoning struck me as problematic for groups that want to identify themselves somewhere in between" having an exclusive mission and complying with all anti-bias rules. "The Second Circuit took that middle ground away," he said.

And for any group that is traditionally all male or all female, such as singing groups or athletic programs, that could invite scrutiny, French said.

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said that he believed the appeals court erred by underestimating the impact of being denied official recognition as a student group.

A more realistic assessment of those burdens, he said, might have led to a different conclusion.
Lukianoff predicted considerable fallout from the decision, even though he thinks it is faulty. "At its worst, it provides a blueprint for public colleges to refuse to recognize any fraternity or sorority, which I think a lot of universities would love the opportunity to do," he said. "I think this opens the door to a lot of future controversy."

And if there is such a move, he said, "there will be a predictable backlash" from lawmakers who will try to protect Greeks. In the near term, Lukianoff said that fraternities "are in a more precarious position."

Schulman, the lawyer for Hastings, said he thinks part of the reason the Second Circuit's ruling will matter is that other courts are starting to advance similar arguments. He cited a ruling last month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that upheld the right of a Washington State high school that rejected a religious group's quest for recognition. The court -- in a case being appealed --- ruled that the group was appropriately rejected under the school district's anti-bias policies because of religious limits on who could vote or hold office.

Groups that want organizations at public universities to be able to discriminate against gay people or non-Christians have been trying to argue that the issue was settled by the Southern Illinois case or a few other cases, Schulman said. While he acknowledged that some court decisions have gone that way, he said that the two recent appeals courts rulings were equally significant. "I think the issues posed by these cases are still very much in play," he said. "It's too early for either side to declare or predict victory."

Lawrence White, formerly general counsel at Georgetown University and a lawyer in the counsel’s office at the University of Virginia, and now a consultant to colleges on legal issues, agreed. White thinks that many public colleges avoid the kind of legal dispute that is going on at CUNY by creating a specific exemption for fraternities and sororities to anti-bias policies.

The real impact of the decision may be in giving public colleges and universities the ability to enforce anti-bias policies against religious groups that discriminate against gay students or others, he said.

"This decision breathes life into the notion that anti-discrimination standards are standards that we should all adhere too, and that universities can define those broadly," he said. By declaring that anti-bias policies "serve an important institutional interest," he said, "this decision does provide a lever."

Sheldon E. Steinbach, a lawyer in the higher education practice at the Washington firm Dow Lohnes, said that whatever one thinks of the latest decision, it may complicate life for colleges and their lawyers.

"What American society in general expects from courts is uniformity and consistency," but this "revolutionary" decision takes an unexpected approach on a ragne of issues, and one that is not consistent with other rulings, he said. "This winds up being a very interesting case."