Fraternities skirt school ban

Queen’s banned fraternities on campus in 1930, but Kingston has at least two

AEPi President Daniel Zimmerman says he has met with the AMS and the administration to discuss fraternities on campus.
Image by: Michael Woods
AEPi President Daniel Zimmerman says he has met with the AMS and the administration to discuss fraternities on campus.

Despite an official ban on fraternities and sororities, Queen’s campus appears to be home to at least two fraternities.

The AMS banned frats and sororities on campus in 1930-31. The AMS’s history records that in 1934 the University Senate passed a motion still in effect today to ban students from joining fraternities and sororities.

Alex Martino, Zeta Psi president and Sci ’11 said he thinks the two policies were written in a different social context that he thinks is outdated.

“A lot of students know there are no fraternities here but don’t know why,” he said. “The policy is really old.”

Martino said he thinks policy will eventually change to reflect the fact that there are fraternities in Kingston with many Queen’s members.

“There’s what is written and then the action,” Martino said, adding that all of the students in Zeta Psi attend Queen’s. “There’s a discrepancy and eventually it will change but we want everything to flow naturally and as the community sees we’re doing something beneficial.

“The current administration doesn’t take issue with us operating as long as we don’t conflict with the institution,” he said. Fraternities provide a social network for male undergraduate students, he said. They host social events for brothers and the community at large and do charity work.

Martino said even if policy were to allow fraternities and sororities, he doesn’t think it would change much in his fraternity’s operations.

“In the sense of our regular operations, not much would change, but it would allow us club status and allow us to attend on-campus events and maybe allow us to be a part of [AMS] Clubs Night when frosh come in and are looking for things to get involved in,” he said.

Many people think of fraternities and sororities in the way they’re presented in Hollywood movies, Martino said.

“A lot of people still think of Animal House and American Pie and that very stereotypical party boy, but a lot of guys are actually highly involved [with Queen’s],” he said, adding that Zeta Psi’s goal is to add to the

University experience.

Daniel Zimmerman, AEPi president and ArtSci ’11, said his exclusivly Jewish fraternity is Kingston-based.

Zimmerman said he thinks Queen’s would benefit from allowing fraternities and sororities on campus.

“I think fraternities would be a great addition to the school,” he said. “The story goes that in the 1930s there were fraternities but the students voted to ban involvement in them.”

Zimmerman said even though students voted against fraternities in the past, he thinks they would be more in favour of them now.

“I think there are students who would be more receptive to the idea of them in that they would allow people to associate with whoever they want,” he said. “A ban is kind of imposing a few people’s views on everybody.”

Zimmerman said he doesn’t think the AMS and the administration are bothered by Greek life around campus as long as fraternities and sororities don’t claim to represent Queen’s.

“I’ve met with members of the administration to make clear that we’re not trying to represent that we’re affiliated with the school, and the response is that ‘you can do whatever you want in your spare time, you just can’t say you represent Queen’s,’” he said. “I met with the AMS two years ago and got the same response.”

Zimmerman said most university communities across Canada have some form of Greek presence and most aren’t associated with their respective universities.

“It’s a pretty standard thing across Canada because most schools don’t formally associate with fraternities,” he said. “It’s a live and let live.”

AMS communications officer Brandon Sloan said the AMS doesn’t approve of fraternities and sororities because they’re exclusionary in nature.

“In terms of a fraternity or sorority, they ascribe to socially-constructed gender roles,” he said. “We’re trying to move the society away from the two genders, which we don’t believe in.”

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Adam Zabrodski said he doesn’t think AMS policy should change to allow fraternities and sororities to exist now.

“I agree with the original decision,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate we’ve reached the point where students no longer feel the Queen’s community is enough.”

Zabrodski said the AMS can’t control what students do off-campus but policy gets murky when fraternities help sponsor on-campus events.

“It’s a grey area,” he said. “We’ve supported campus clubs which engage with community groups.”

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