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October 11, 2001 Fraternities gentler, but not pushovers





by John Austen

When you think of fraternities, visions of the late John Belushi and the classic film Animal House come to mind: wild parties, gallons of beer, hazing and free-wheeling sex. Think again.

Three Montreal frat houses are organizing a football game this Saturday afternoon to help save the rain forest in South America. Teams representing Mu Omicron Zeta (MOZ), Tau Kappa Epsilon (TEKE) and Omicron will play a full day of football with no padding and no helmets.

“This Animal House thing is totally exaggerated,” said Eric Belkin, of MOZ. “Sure, there are parties, Beer Olympics and stuff like that, but overall, it’s a lot more productive. We raise a lot of money for charities throughout the year. The football game is always a highlight.”

Last year’s game was no exception — but for the wrong reasons. “A fight broke out at the end of the game and we didn’t declare a champion,” Belkin admitted. “I can guarantee that won’t happen again this year, though. Everyone is on the same page.”

Belkin says that there is friendly competition among the frat houses, but nothing more. “When you play tackle football with no equipment, there are bound to be some injuries, but we all have a good time. We’re tough. We have a referee from each frat house to try and keep things under control.”

Fraternities are still very popular in the United States, but are more low-key here in Canada, Belkin said.

“Last year, we had seven new people who wanted to join, but only three came to pledge,” he said. “The other four were scared because of all the stories they heard about frats. They had nothing to worry about. We don’t haze [have new members perform outlandish, dangerous or lewd activities]. I’m not allowed to say what we have the new pledges do, but we don’t take it as seriously as they do in the U.S.”

Belkin, a 23-year-old independent student from Dollard des Ormeaux, joined MOZ a few years ago. “It’s a great community. All three fraternities raise money through a variety of events.”

MOZ began on a whim 11 years ago when four students (two from Concordia, one from McGill and one from Université de Montréal) went to Daytona Beach, Fla., for spring break. They met members of a fraternity down there who raved about how much fun they were having. The four started MOZ in Florida and brought it back to Montreal with them.

MOZ is flying in one of the group’s main founders, Paul Mirshak, from Phoenix for Saturday’s game. “He was practically crying on the phone when we told him we were paying for him to come up,” Belkin said. “He was so happy. It will be a great event for a great cause.”

The eighth annual Frat Bowl is slated for Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Loyola High School Field. The action gets under way at 10 a.m.