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FSC to house unique Greek groups

The recent formation of a new umbrella organization for Greek societies has opened doors for some unique prospective sororities and fraternities.

The Fraternity and Sorority Council, a new Contracted Independent Organization, was granted CIO status last Tuesday by Student Council. FSC will house fraternities and sororities that do not fall underneath the already established umbrella groups for Greek letter organizations - the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Inter-Sorority Council and the Black Fraternal Council.

The FSC was created last spring so that "fraternities and sororities with different ideas and structures could have representation under an umbrella," IFC President Wes Kaupinen said.

"All of the Greek governing councils collectively decided to create the fourth Greek governing council," ISC President Margaret Dumas said.

Non-traditional fraternities and sororities, perhaps based on race, culture, or sexual orientation, might choose to be housed under the FSC in the future, FSC President Kasara Davidson said.

"My vision is to see U.Va. grow in the types of fraternities and sororities we have here on campus," Davidson said.

FSC will not play a direct role in bringing new groups to Grounds, but it will facilitate their creation by serving as an umbrella organization.

Under Davidson, a fourth-year College student and member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an experienced board operates to oversee the FSC's affairs. The board includes two members of the IFC, two members of the ISC and two members of the BFC. These board members offer structural advice and guidance to the newly forming Greek letter organizations under the FSC.

Although the FSC presently does not house any organizations, that is expected to change in the near future.

FSC will house a sorority formed to celebrate Latina culture, Omega Phi Beta. Omega Phi Beta has been "extended membership" by the University, but the paperwork necessary to approve their Fraternal Organization Agreement has not yet been processed, Davidson said.

An FOA is a document that is required for a Greek organization to enter into a relationship with the University. The document permits the fraternity or sorority access to certain University services and resources, such as University facilities, while giving the administration authority in matters pertaining to the University's honor and judicial systems and events held on University property.

Omega Phi Beta recently completed their probationary period - the waiting period in which administrative procedures are carried through to fully establish a sorority or fraternity at the University.

Omega Phi Beta's "membership has been approved, but it is not a sorority yet," Davidson said.

The process of becoming recognized "is out of our hands at this time," Omega Phi Beta President Carolina Espinal said.

The process of becoming a recognized sorority at the University is usually a four- month process, Davidson said.

Omega Phi Beta started as an interest group in 1998. In the fall of that year, three women went through the sorority's pledge process at the national level, but the sorority remained unrecognized at the University. In early 1999, Omega Phi Beta began its probationary period under the ISC but the organization later transfered under the FSC umbrella.

In the beginning stages of Omega Phi Beta, they were sheltered by the ISC.

Davidson and Asst. Dean of Students Aaron Laushway both said the transfer from the ISC to the FSC is in Omega Phi Beta's best interest.

The Latina-oriented sorority has "different structural purposes, and there are not many [sororities and fraternities] that promote Latina culture," Laushway said.

Once the FOA paperwork is processed, Omega Phi Beta will be the first Greek organization to be housed under the FSC.

One of the steps that any prospective sorority or fraternity must take when trying to become established is to be incorporated under an existing umbrella organization, Davidson said.

FSC was formed to accommodate non-traditional Greek letter societies which may or may not have been established at other universities nationwide, Laushway said.

He said the Latina sorority's cultural stronghold is the unique factor helping them gain approval under the FSC.

Other unique fraternal organizations are also in the process of becoming established and may eventually be housed under the FSC, he added.

An Asian / Asian-American sorority and an Asian / Asian-American fraternity, are currently in a probationary period, Laushway said.

Members of the sorority, the Young Asian Women's Alliance, were undecided on whether to seek shelter under the BFC or the ISC when they organized in early 1999.

They chose neither because they felt that the sorority was unique among the Greek organizations under the other umbrellas, YAWA Vice President Eksupar Tongsri said.

Tongsri said once the sorority becomes fully established, FSC will house it.

Another reason for housing the emerging cultural fraternities and sororities under a completely new umbrella organization is that they may be more strongly represented, Davidson said.

Because they are smaller than other sororities, Omega Phi Beta may find it "nice and comforting not to have to come into an organization many people," she said.

Kaupinen and BFC Co-Chairman Michael McPheeters said because of the differences in the organizations, the FSC would provide the organizations that join better representation.

In addition, Omega Phi Beta does not fit under any of the nationwide umbrella organizations that BFC, IFC and ISC societies are housed under, McPheeters said.

BFC member organizations must be recognized under the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., while the IFC is housed by the National Inter-Fraternity Council, Inc., and the ISC is housed by the Panhellenic Conference.

(Cavalier Daily Associate Editor Claire Edwards contributed to this article.)