Will Macaulay Go Greek? Fraternity Proposal Pending

Greek life — coming to an Honors College near you? A proposal to charter a chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity is pending approval, with mixed reactions from the student body.

“The idea of a fraternity began simply between Raj Basak (CCNY ’15), Jeremy Forman (Queens, ’14), Michael Tal (Lehman, ‘14) and me last October,” said Slava Brodetskiy (Baruch ’14). “We all knew each from sometime before last Fall semester but we quickly became good friends as we bonded over our common interests in Philosophy and Literature. The Hertog Scholars Program sort of facilitated this bond. We got the chance to engage in some really interesting discussion on the works we read and gradually took our conversations outside of class to cafes, museums, operas, etc.”

“We came across Alpha Delta Phi, which began as a literary society in 1832 at Hamilton College, and was chartered at the Free Academy up until 1913. We decided that the founding principles of the organization and its philosophy were something that we wanted to actualize. And that was to develop friendship and camaraderie through intellectual curiosity. The organization emphasizes cross-disciplinary intellectual cultivation; something that we felt is very appropriate for Macaulay’s academic culture.”

Brodetskiy cited the recent growth in student life organizations in Macaulay, such as the Macaulay Marauders and the Macaulay Triplets, as inspiration for the fraternity, as he believes it will “be instrumental to advancing that sense of community and school spirit.” He will serve as the President of the chapter, if the proposal is accepted.

Many students advocate for the camaraderie of Greek life (left), while others believe it promotes reckless behavior (right).  Cartoons by Nation of Amanda
Many students advocate for the camaraderie of Greek life (left), while others believe it promotes reckless behavior (right). Cartoons by Nation of Amanda

The potential Macaulay chapter of Alpha Delta Phi will include a literary program, where members would give presentations on their academic areas of expertise, as well as cultural outings and service opportunities.

Because Alpha Delta Phi is not a co-ed fraternity, the matter of gender exclusivity is an obstacle for the organization’s proponents. Others remain concerned about occurrences of hazing and dangerous partying that are attached to fraternities and sororities across the country.

Brodetskiy hoped that the establishment of a fraternity would lead to a sorority, should the women of Macaulay desire it. He dismissed instances of hazing and lethal intoxication, citing these reported incidents as “exceptional cases.”

“We will have to work closely with Macaulay’s student life and our local community to develop a great deal of goodwill,” he said. “We hope to distinguish ourselves by building an organization focused on intellectual cultivation and service, which will be formative to Macaulay’s positive image.”

12 thoughts on “Will Macaulay Go Greek? Fraternity Proposal Pending”

  1. Although I understand the appeal of having a space where students can share their intellectual adventures and studies, a gender exclusive space seems unnecessary. I see no reason why a co-ed fraternity would not suffice. A club would also do well. A sorority would not be the appropriate counterpoint because the inclusion of women would not detract from your stated goals. If the intention of this fraternity is to create an intellectual space for discussion and camaraderie, then exclusivity works against those objectives. Although having an exclusive fraternity could ensure committed membership, I see no justification for a system with gender as a stipulation. Unless this fraternity deals specifically with male issues or is intended as a safe space for men, I’d prefer to see a more progressive and inclusive community represent the spirit of the Macaulay Honors College.

  2. I’m okay with this idea as long as there is some scholarly foundation to it. There are a lot of fraternities at Baruch and the difference between the social ones and the business ones are tremendous (Look up LPE and compare it to DSP). Maybe it is because we associate “fraternity” or “sorority” with drunken debauchery in American culture that we raise eyebrows at first.

  3. I think its a great idea! It would be great to further close the social gap between Macaulay campuses. As for the gender exclusivity, it would be great to have a sister sorority and host functions together. While i’m not opposed to the co-ed idea, I think that the spirit of fraternity includes a sort of male-male bonding.

  4. I think Shanika makes a great point. If this organization is strictly help “develop friendship and camaraderie through intellectual curiosity,” it seems silly to exclude 50% of the student body.

    It would be nice to see a new school like Macaulay to take a more progressive approach and to open this up to all students. As of now, it just sounds like you are making a male-only club and calling it a fraternity (which may be precisely what a fraternity is…)

    On an alternate note, I think it would be fascinating to look at the popularity of fraternities and sororities over time and in conjunction with world events (like say, women’s suffrage). Did the empowering of women make men join more male-only organizations? Did it make women join more women-only organizations? What’s the ratio of co-ed fratorities (trademarked!) to normal fraternities and sororities?

    1. I largely agree with Michael and Shanika. While I get the fact that they can probably get extra funding as a “frat,” I don’t see why they couldn’t find a co-ed fraternity to connect with, or what the problem is with a student club version of this. Also, these events, and this male-male bonding could 100% occur without the frat. A frat isn’t a facilitator for any of those things that can’t be gotten other ways.

      I do think that having a fraternity where the only members could be male isn’t a positive addition to the Macaulay sphere. I appreciate a college that focuses on allowing equality and freedom of speech, but this is different in that there is a chosen exclusivity (as in chosen by the members to start this frat as opposed to aligning themselves with a different organization). While I hear the idea of a sister sorority, the fact that the MHC Frat would only be less negative IF an outside group – of which there currently is none – would come along. To me, that’s not a valid point, then. If there was equal interest and desire to start a sorority and a frat, side by side, then it would be legitimate, but as of now, to say, essentially “Oh, there should be a group for women so that this all-male group doesn’t seem exclusive,” is silly. Shouldn’t the problem lie in the inherent exclusivity?

      At Brooklyn College, there are a lot of frats and sororities, but the difference is that all have pre-existing interest and desire and there are a wide variety of accommodating groups for students. At MHC, if this is the only one of its kind and there is no non-exclusive alternative, I don’t see it as doing the same kind of benefits.

  5. Also, I have to add that I overheard that part of this idea, in being part of a frat, would be to allow for some (male) students to get an apartment building to themselves. If this happens to be true, then, I think it just further proves how the exclusivity would be allowing one group to have an advantage that the female students wouldn’t be open to. This may be totally wrong, but if we’re having an open discussion, I’ll put it out there.

  6. I’m opposed to this concept entirely. Why are we trying to build another “ivory tower” in the already privileged sphere of Macaulay? We should be using our resources to expand privileges to others, not reinforcing and building classism.
    Even if this proposal were for a co-ed frat, there is absolutely no way that this frat would be equitable to all. Frats cost money, and many choose Macaulay in part because it’s affordable. This will disproportionately allow better off students even more advantages (such as the housing plan that was mentioned.)
    A huge part of why I chose Macaulay is that I didn’t want the snobbery and elitism associated with many private schools; a fraternity would detract from that. And the fact that it’s a male-only social club? That detracts from it even more, as it just affirms the same patriarchal values we see all over academia. (Case in point: the only Macaulay course being taught by a woman in the fall is about gender.)

  7. If you think that a student club or co-ed organization would be an adequate substitute for a proper fraternity, you do not understand the appeal of a fraternity.

    A safe space for males is exactly what a frat provides. Sororities provide a safe space for women, and you are free to start one. Gender exclusivity is not necessarily discrimination.

    No one is forcing you to join the fraternity. You hadn’t been asking for a coed fraternity before this. You are arguing just to be argumentative. just ignore it if you don’t like it.

  8. A few points:

    1.) This fraternity is in no way inevitable–the Macaulay administration’s concerns are nearly identical to the issues raised in these comments.

    2.) Our goals for the fraternity are somewhat non-traditional, and many of the stereotypes surrounding fraternities do not apply to the chapter we would hope to start. The chapter would host some exclusive events, with the goal of promoting cross-campus friendships. We believe this will enhance Macaulay’s social atmosphere, which currently offers very few opportunities for students at different campuses to bond at a level deeper than their professional or academic interests. The people mentioned in the article (Slava, Raj, Mike, and Jeremy) will be the founders but will not be the only members. We are looking for a diverse group, not an all-male Hertog 2.0.

    (In fact, the ultimate goal of the chapter is to foster open intellectual discussion, with members leading presentations open to the Macaulay community. We also wish to organize service opportunities of a similar nature. This will not be a fraternity centered around drinking or partying–we have neither the space, the money, nor the interest.)

    3.) The fraternity is not being used to somehow secure an apartment building for members. That is both untrue and unreasonable–membership in a fraternity does not somehow simplify the Herculean task of finding an apartment in this city.

    4.) We don’t believe that a sorority should exist solely to balance us out, but we do believe that an active Greek life in Macaulay would help strengthen cross-campus social ties. In fact, Satchel Tangonan (City ’15) has expressed interest in starting a sorority.

    5.) We opted for a single-gender fraternity because Alpha Delta Phi has reached out to us more than some of the other organizations (some co-ed) that we have contacted. It is also both widespread and reputable. Such a fraternity carries with it distinct advantages that cannot be had from a student club: conventions, service trips, and the like. We believe, therefore, that an all-male fraternity is worthwhile in spite of its exclusivity.

    5.) If the fraternity is approved, there is a good chance that Macaulay will not fund it in any capacity. In that case, no one’s tuition dollars (or more specifically, no New Yorker’s taxpayer dollars) would be used to fund us.

    The snobbery and stupidity associated with many fraternities is rightfully earned, but we are trying to do something different here–just as Macaulay is trying to do something different with higher education.

  9. There are several reasons why we are interested in a male fraternity:

    Firstly, associations with notable existing fraternities would be a great benefit to the students of Macaulay. These frats offer networks that would greatly aid academic and personal endeavors. The frat that we are interested in lines up almost entirely with our own intended plan. It is also not a co-ed fraternity, but an all-male organization with chapters all over the country. (Including a former chapter at CUNY) We hope to revive the chapter at CUNY and take advantages of the opportunities the national organization can afford us.

    Secondly, a fraternity is indeed a safe space for men. A sorority is a safe space for women. While co-ed frats do exist, we hope to help facilitate the creation of two separate entities which would collectively be open to all students at Macaulay. As Cheyn mentioned, there has already been interest in starting a sorority.

    Next, while the affiliation with the frat will be “exclusive” to members, many of the activities will not. The ultimate goal is to host talks, seminars and events that would be open to the entire Macaulay community. This would serve to not only foster an intellectual community, but also unify the several campuses of MHC.

    The notion that the frat “would be to allow for some (male) students to get an apartment building to themselves” is completely false.

    As for the concern of monetary constraints, yes fraternities cost money. However, this is not sufficient reason to denounce the existence of one. There are many ways in which students can acquire funding – e.g. the opportunities fund.

    Lastly, male frats and female sororities already exist within CUNY. Senior colleges like Hunter, CCNY and Baruch have several chapters of national fraternities. Why should MHC be any different?

    The fraternity proposed is not in any way non-progressive. On the contrary, the community and culture that it seeks to create will indeed foster progressive academic thought. We hope to deviate from the notions of debauchery and tomfoolery traditionally associated with fraternities and create an organization that could be influential in the development of its members. Students that are interested can and will benefit from its existence. Those that are not interested are not in any way obliged to be associated with the fraternity.

  10. I’m not going to lie, I’m distressed by this for a few reasons.

    First of all, as a Hertog classmate I’m upset. Slava, you said that this idea came from the discussions that began over the books read for the program. While I respect that you, Michael, Raj, and Jeremy are close friends and that your friendship is part of the reason for pursuing this, I can’t help but wonder how you perceive the contributions I and the other females in the program make. After all, we will be excluded from the programs you intend to coordinate.

    My second point is for Raj. You said, “associations with notable existing fraternities would be a great benefit to the students of Macaulay. These frats offer networks that would greatly aid academic and personal endeavors.” But – you do have to concede – these “benefits” will not be reaped equally by Macaulay students, since we women can’t join a male-only frat.

    Finally, a hypothetical. What about intersex and transgender individuals? How will you dictate their membership? You can see how this can quickly become a slippery slope.

  11. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t CUNY have a non-discrimination policy in place? I seem to vaguely recall hearing that you can’t technically forbid anyone from joining a club/student association in CUNY based on sex, gender, race, etc etc.

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