Binghamton Greek Life began developing a plan of attack on Wednesday for the daunting task of reeling in BU’s two most notorious off-campus frats.
Six students attended an open forum, held in response to the assessment of Greek Life published earlier this semester, during which members of BU fraternities targeted Sigma Alpha Mu, or Sammy, and the former Alpha Epsilon Pi, better known as APES.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) president Ben Sheridan complained about APES’ independence as a non-chartered fraternity allowing it to do what it pleases without consequence.
“I have a lot of friends who are [members of those fraternities],” said Sheridan, a junior majoring in political science. “I like the guys in those frats. But my primary interest is the good of my fraternity, and the existence of those two groups is not a boon for my fraternity’s growth. It’s terrible.”
One member of the newly chartered Alpha Epsilon Pi said he was frustrated with being confused with APES and having potential pledges associate AEPi with hazing. He attributed Greek life’s dip in popularity to a lack of good press in campus publications like Pipe Dream.
Alex Liu, Interfraternity Council president and a member of Zeta Psi fraternity, said off-campus fraternities draw many potential pledges away from chartered frats with their cheaper prices.
“Binghamton is a school that a lot of people go to because they can’t afford other schools,” said Liu, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “When a student has to choose between two groups, one off-campus and one on, and one costs $100 and the other costs $400, he’s probably going to go with the cheaper one. It’s a really big draw.”
Attendees also took issue with the fact that off-campus fraternities can advertise their parties in dormitories.
Students suggested a variety of solutions, including designating APES and Sammy as gangs and preventing off-campus fraternities from advertising on campus.
The forum also examined issues beyond off-campus fraternities, such as the lack of a Greek life identity on campus. Liu said that construction in the Union prevents Greek students from congregating on campus.
“With the loss of the Union last year, I feel like our presence on campus really can’t be found anywhere,” Liu said. “I think it would be really cool if there was just a large area designated for Greeks to just hang out.”
Sheridan also criticized the Office of Greek Life for its size.
“I’ve noticed that the utility of the Greek Life office has gotten immensely stronger in the last year now that the school is finally getting in trouble for having a lackluster Greek life,” he said. “If the school is actually going to have 3,000 more kids by 2017, you can’t have a Greek Life office meant for a school with 10,000 kids.”
Lloyd Howe, associate vice president for student affairs and chair of the Greek life review committee that organized the forum, said he was disappointed that only six students showed up, but that he appreciated their feedback.
Howe said he is impressed with Greek Life and wants its reputation to reflect its character.
“I think that our organizations on campus really do want to move forward in a positive direction and do recognize that there are currently some problems endemic with fraternity and sorority life on campus,” he said. “And that there’s a willingness to work together between the organizations and campus administration to try and get to a better place.”