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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Boys' Club

Can someone try to help me sort this story out:
In a decision that somehow managed to bring together karaoke, laser tag, exotic dancers and rabbinical consultations, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday that a lower court had erred in saying the College of Staten Island could not deny official recognition to a Jewish fraternity simply because all of its members were male.

...Beyond its limited legal effects, the ruling painted a rather unlikely portrait of Jewish fraternity brothers on Staten Island who both build sukkahs and frequent pool halls in their spare time.

...The panel went so far, in fact, as to use Chi Iota’s rush week of February 2003 as evidence against it. The judges wrote that although the fraternity claimed to find benefits in being exclusive, several events during rush week actually required interaction with what the court called “nonmembers.” Those nonmembers, it said, had been encountered at outings to, among other places, a strip club, a karaoke bar and a laser tag establishment.
At first glance, I thought that the reasoning behind the fraternity's preference of an all-male membership was religious (ostensibly to prevent fraternization between the sexes) - but the fact that the fraternity holds events in strip clubs would seem to be at odds with that assumption. So it seems that the all-male status of the fraternity has nothing whatsoever to do with its religious status. Which would make the fact that the fraternity is a Jewish one not particularly relevant to the story. Anyone have another interpretation?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our community is still shaken from the loss of Daviman a'h. It is hard to be involved in hypothetical irrelevenancy like this.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is hard to be involved in hypothetical irrelevenancy like this."

so don't

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree. the fact that theyre jewish doesnt seem to have anything to do with the case. but the strip club part is a big chillul lhashem.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

If I remember the legalities behind this case correctly, it is relevant that the fraternity is Jewish. I think they originally applied to be a recognized fraternity, but the school's rules require that fraternities don't discriminate on the basis of religion. So, the fraternity tried to be a recognized student group, but the schools rule's forbid a student group from discriminating based on gender. So, because it is a religious, all-male group, they can't be recognized under either regime.

2:55 AM  
Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

BTW, you didn't really think they wanted to be all-male because the groups members are even slightly relgious, did you? Somehow I don't think very many young frum men are very interested in forming a greek fraternity. I mean, the irony behind that would just be too much.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I am an alumnus of a fraternity. Many people would consider it to be a Jewish fraternity. In fact that is how it started back in 1898.

In those days Jews couldn't get into fraternities so it made a lot of sense to create one for ourselves.

That lasted until just after WW II at which time it was opened to any man selected by the membership.

Today if you look at the ranks you'll still find that the overwhelming majority of members are Jewish.

All that being said, the fraternity wasn't a place where the boys went for religious activities of any sort.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is retarded. Fraternity means all guys by definition.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Actually, no, not these days. Several female friends of mine have belonged to coed fraternities. And anyway, if you disapprove of something, couldn't you come up with a more creative insult than "retarded"? In any case, what do developmentally disabled people have to do with this?

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I can help you sort it out. First of all, it's a poorly written article as it doesn't even name the fraternity involved. Here is a much better article, which better explains the legal issues involved: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1189674168013

I am a member of this fraternity, though not this chapter/colony, and I am Orthodox. That being said, my chapter never had trips to strip clubs and I would say is better behaved than others. Our chapter is typically about 80% Jewish, and we do many activities with Hillel as well as the larger Jewish community.

The fraternity system on my campus does not get money from the university, but the university realizes that fraternities add to student life on campus and makes accommodations for them. The have the ability to use rooms on campus and post on bulletin boards, as other organizations do. The fraternities and sororities are treated as a group, and as such, do not discriminate by gender.

I don't know much about the College of Staten Island, but I do know that other CUNY schools have fraternities, so I'm a little confused as to what the problem is. In general, schools push back against new fraternities, mostly because the existing fraternities see them as competition.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if Bill Clinton didn't inhale, I can accept that they did not look.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First this: "the ruling painted a rather unlikely portrait of Jewish fraternity brothers on Staten Island who both build sukkahs and frequent pool halls in their spare time."

Not unlikely at all--it happened.

Let's not mix up "frum" and "jewish." The "frummy" boys on campus do not belong to this fraternity. This is not to say that they do not know some of the boys in the fraternity or that they have never been in the same place at the same time when the fraternity sponsored an event.

For those of us in the community the problem is more that the fraternity is "neither fish, nor fowl nor good red meat." It is most definitely a fraternity in the best--worst?--tradition of Animal House, but Jewish? That part is very vague. Building a sukkah does not a Jew make.

9:07 PM  
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