SFU: Sororities & Fraternities Unrecognized

Aaron Guillen & Sahil Morar – March 7, 2019

Hazing. Wet T-shirt contests. Toga parties. It’s these types of activities that are synonymous with fraternities or sororities. A group of young women at Simon Fraser University belonging to one of the Sororities on campus – Alpha Pi Phi – are doing their part to challenge and change that image once and for all. Despite hours of event organization, recruitment, and several in-depth applications, SFU has still denied them recognition on campus due to a 53 year old mandate.

Alpha Pi Phi executive Margarita Rodriguez-Simon, along with 5 other fraternities and sororities are facing the same predicaments. She believes that, without this recognition and club status, the Greek Letter Organization (GLO) faces extinction. To date, two co-ed fraternities, Phi Delta Epsilon and Alpha Kappa Psi, have been recognized by SFU and the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) as clubs.

Over 5 years ago, Alpha Pi Phi submitted an application that was declined due to a number of reasons. On November 20th 2018, the application was resubmitted, addressing clauses and contingency plans surrounding non-binary individuals and gender-inclusiveness. Within the amendments, the application states very clearly that: Hazing of any kind is absolutely prohibited. No chapter, colony, student, pledge, associate/new member or member or alumna/us shall conduct nor condone hazing activities.”

Simon Fraser University released a ruling in 1966 that deemed greek life societies on campus “undesirable” due to the negative connotations further citing that fraternities and sororities promote a type of exclusiveness that could be detrimental to the student body. Upon further review, the ruling used Stanford University, Queen’s University, and the University of Saskatchewan as examples of student bodies that are sustaining positive morale without Greek Life on campus.

An op-ed published just a few months before the ruling, highlighting further criticisms of the “toxicity” of Greek Life, particularly sororities. The author A.M Unrau touched on the harsh “rushing” and hazing that takes place during the so-called application process of joining Greek Life.

Not only did Unrau echo the concern that sororities would have a negative impact on the mental health of the female student body, she brought attention to the fact that highly positioned individuals in Greek Life society also held similar positions within the student body. This could possibly result in decisions that are beneficial to the fraternal philosophy and not one that accurately depicts the opinion of the student body.

In 2008, a non-binding plebiscite was conducted resulting in 57% of the student body in favour of introducing Greek Life at SFU. The vote has yet to be acknowledged by the Simon Fraser Student Society, even 11 years later.  

A 1966 ruling that banned fraternities and sororities on SFU’s campus.

We reached out to the SFSS Acting President Samer Rihani. In an emailed statement, he expressed that the SFSS is concerned about SFU’s stance on Greek Life, while reiterating the fact that they still do not recognize GLO’s.