By Shirley Lin
Minutes into a drinking game, Blondie is forcing back her third beer. To her left a boy bounces a ping-pong ball into an empty cup. She knows what this means. Hands on her hips, Blondie pouts before chugging another beer.
Everything seems to be happening at hyper-speed — empty cups are passed around, beer is chugged, ping-pong balls fly across the table. The game is “Hex-a-death,” designed to get every player in the frat house basement mindnumbingly drunk.
It’s rush time for all fraternities and sororities in Toronto; the four to six week recruitment period where hopefuls, nicknamed “rushes” pledge to become a brother or sister. At 131 Lowther Ave., home to the University of Torontobased Beta Theta Pi, the boys are hosting their first mixer with the Delta Psi Delta Sorority, a city-wide club that includes Ryerson students.
These parties are actually illegal, but that won’t stop a large number of Ryerson students from joining. None of the Toronto’s three universities — Ryerson, York and the University of Toronto — recognize fraternities and sororities. The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) also follows this mandate. Today, it still refusees to support the Greek system.
“Historically, fraternities and sororities tended to be exclusive and with having a fee,” said Liana Salvador, RSU vicepresident of education. “It goes against our equity mandate.”
Marketing the Greek system — famed for it’s hazing rituals and elitism — is a tough sell on Canadian campuses. Prior to 1965, Ryerson was home to five fraternities, but when a car crash killed a student who drank too much at an inter- fraternity beer-drinking contest, Ryerson nixed the groups.
At U of T, sororities are an exception to the rule, governed by the Panhellenic Association, which enforces strict rules to keep things in check.
From the looks of Sigma Pi’s keg party last Friday, students across Toronto embrace the Greek system. While partygoers swarmed the frat house near Dundas and Spadina Streets, pledge educator Franklin Sebastianpillai did his best to direct the incoming crowd.
Sebastianpillai, an information technology management (ITM) student said he’s not the only Sigma Pi member from Ryerson. “Eleven out of 14 brothers are Ryerson students in ITM.”
He lists several benefits of being in a brotherhood — networking with alumni, charity work, developing life skills, responsibilities, and lifelong friends. Being a sister or a brother may leave a warm afterglow, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Annual fees range from $400 to $1,000, most of which covers insurance and social events.
Meeting new people and gaining new experience in a brotherhood could be compared to joining a student campus group. But for Lucas Carravetta, president of Lambda Chi Alpha at U of T, it’s rituals that set fraternities apart.
“Every brother is bonded through rituals,” Carravetta said. “I can call him a brother because we’ve been through the experience.”
Under the right guidance, fraternities can help students mature, he said. Back in Beta Theta Pi’s basement, the “Hex-a-death” proves too much to handle for two hopeful sorority pledges. Unable to go on, they hand their beer cups to Blondie who chugs them willingly, all in the name of sisterhood.