Students express concern over proposed fraternity

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Ghianda Becerril, Staff Writer

Student Government held a town hall-style meeting last night to gauge student opinion on the possibility of making Alpha Delta Gamma the first social fraternity at the University of Dallas.

Though it is not officially recognized by the university, Alpha Delta Gamma has been present on campus since last semester as an active colony. It is currently seeking to become established as an official university organization.

Beginning the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation, the UD students who serve as student executive board members for the fraternity then opened up the floor to students who raised questions and concerns over the possible establishment of Greek life on campus.

The presentation described the morals and characteristics, as well as the purpose, of Alpha Delta Gamma. The executive board members explained that all members of Alpha Delta Gamma are encouraged to strive for values such as character, friendship, community, scholarship and career goals.

“We have values that uphold to a higher standard,” said senior John Yarbrough, vice president of external affairs. “We believe that with our fraternity we can create a better environment. We want to demonstrate that our fraternity can promote a better class of men.”

“Alpha Delta Gamma was our natural choice as men of UD,” said senior Patrick Berry, president of University of Dallas Colony of Alpha Delta Gamma, in an interview conducted prior to the town hall meeting. “It is a national Catholic fraternity that was created as an alternative to what is sometimes seen as the negative stereotypes of fraternity life. It agrees extremely well with the mission statement of the University of Dallas and it is present at many prominent Catholic institutions around the country.”

Alpha Delta Gamma was formed by four students at the Lake Shore Campus of Loyola University of Chicago in 1924. It was founded on five basic principles, known as “The Five S’s”: spiritual, scholastic, service, school spirit and social, according to the official fraternity website.

The fraternity’s motto is a quote m St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus: Ad Dei Gloriam – “For the greater glory of God.” It is through that motto, members say, that the fraternity hopes to make known its purpose to the UD campus.

The national board of Alpha Delta Gamma and its chapters voted unanimously last sprang to form the colony that now exists on the UD campus and which is on track to receive a full charter in May. Two of the national executive board members, including the national president, Matthew Berkshire, visited the UD campus to begin the member-education process. The fraternity has since been holding weekly meetings with 14 pinned members. Another 12 students on the Rome campus are waiting to be pinned, according to Berry.

Berry said the idea to form the fraternity sprung from conversations during some of the members’ time at the university. After extensive research done by Berry, members decided to propose the idea of extending the charter to the university. He said the men wanted to become involved in a fraternity that would provide an established structure for the development of moral character and professional demeanor.

Throughout last night’s meeting, students voiced concerns over the possible establishment of cliques that would result from having a fraternity on campus.

Sophomore Sean Biggins stated, “We are concerned. UD is already a tight-knit community. Though you are well-intentioned, we are concerned that you might be introducing a clique that would exclude other students.”

Yarbrough responded that “cliques already exist. It is natural for a university to have them, but our goal is to bring people together.”

Berry said that while they were looking to be a very diverse group, they did have to be exclusive to an extent. They will not only induct members based on the five basic principles of the fraternity, but members will also be held to an academic standard, such as a minimum GPA. The exact minimum is yet to be determined.

Students also expressed concern over the drinking culture associated with Greek life.

“How will you guarantee that there will be no drunken debauchery associated with the fraternity?” senior Ellie Tasler asked.

Yarbrough responded: “We will have events where there will be a bartender and where tickets will be given out to receive alcohol. There will be someone at the door and we will have wristbands indicating the age. There is an insurance liability not only for us but for the national board as well so will we do our best to control it.”

In a series of interviews after the meeting Biggins and sophomore Michael Hoff expressed their concerns over long-term drawbacks that would be related to the fraternity.

“Fraternities have the record of being a magnet for cliques. Although they have the right ideas, a few years in the future it may not be the same,” said Hoff.

“One of the things that attracted me to UD was the fact that there were no fraternities or sororities associated with the school,” said Biggins. “Though they have good morals, it is still a fraternity and will attract people who do want a frat lifestyle.”

Berry shared his own view of the community that Alpha Delta Gamma could foster.

“The fraternity also allows for inter-class relationships, giving underclassmen the opportunity to be assigned a ‘Big Brother’ that will be major-specific,” said Berry. “We operate on the belief that ‘a brother who is helped by a brother is like a city walled.’ ”

Student Government was asked to consider whether the UD student body should support a social fraternity on campus. Senior Patrick Brehany, vice president of SG, said that it “will use all [its] resources to make an informed decision about whether the student body supports the proposed fraternity and Greek life as a whole.”

At 8 p.m. tonight, SG will host another town hall meeting in Lynch Auditorium to collect student opinions about the addition of a social fraternity on campus. After the meeting, SG will poll students. The opinions collected will be presented to the university’s administration, which will then decide whether to approve the fraternity. SG president Renee Davis said there will be follow-up initiatives to gauge student opinion more precisely.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not here to provide some drunken debauchery club,” said Berry. “If young men are looking for Animal House we urge them to look elsewhere and possibly re-evaluate their goals in life. That being said, we are a social fraternity.”

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