West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / The West Wing World * Schools, Fraternities, etc.

Sorkin seems to assume that all colleges have fraternities and maybe before mentioning a fraternity at some other college, someone should check up on whether they have them or not.

  1. Georgetown (where Zoey goes) doesn't have fraternities in this world: Bridget Moriarty writes that in "Six Meetings Before Lunch" David Arbor and Zoey were supposedly at a Georgetown frat party --- "except Georgetown doesn't have any fraternities because the school doesn't believe in them, and they never really have. My dad went there in the 70s and there was a sort of fake one, but when I went for the campus tour and information session (I'm applying there) they make it very clear that there are no frats or sororities."

    Matt Stevens wrote some additional clarification on this: "It's true that Georgetown doesn't recognize fraternities or sororities, and discourages them. The one officially recognized fraternity when I attended (1988-1992) was the service fraternity (I think it was Alpha Phi Omega, a non-residential fraternity).

    "However, there were three unsanctioned fraternities--the foreign service fraternity (don't remember the letters anymore), which used the old Prussian Embassy as its frat house; and two African-American organizations, a fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) and a sorority (don't remember the name). It is possible that David and Zoey were at a party held by one of these groups."

    Randy Finder wrote us: "Georgetown University does not recognize single-sex Greek letter organizations on campus. There are two long standing coed fraternities on campus: Delta Phi Epsilon, Foreign Service Fraternity (oriented toward International Relations), and Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity (oriented toward Community Service and Volunteering). Either of these could be the "Fake Frat" that Bridget Moriarty mentions. Bill Clinton (who was President in our universe) was a member of Alpha Phi Omega at Georgetown. There are also several historically black Fraternities and Sororities which are not recognized by Georgetown University that take members from several DC area schools including Georgetown. He also found and recommended links on this subject:
    But there is a way around this. Jeffrey T. Anbinder emails us. "Yet nobody ever asserted in the episode that it was a Georgetown frat party. DC has a bunch of other schools, some of which have fraternities - including American University, George Washington University, George Mason University, Howard University... Even at Cornell, where we had 45 fraternities, we occasionally went to the opposite hill to one of Ithaca College's fraternities for a party."

  2. OberlinOberlin College is mentioned as the college Sam's friend, Tom Jordan, went to. [#25] Then later that friend is mentioned as having belonged to an all white fraternity in college. Well, it turns out Oberlin doesn't allow fraternities at all. Meagan writes us:
    "I am pleased that my alma mater, Oberlin College, exists in the TWW world. I am also pleased that graduates of there are deemed worthy of running for Congress. I am displeased that the parallel Oberlin College has fraternities and sororities (while my Oberlin has a ban against any and all secret or exclusive clubs), especially ones that may not have/allow black pledges. This is particularly troubling given my Oberlin's history as the first college to educate all students, black and white, male and female, in one classroom together, in America, and as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and as still one of the most liberal and activist places in the country."

    When we asked Ms. Holman for more information, she wrote the following:
    "This is the quote from the student handbook about fraternities & sororities (from www.oberlin.edu) 'No secret society is allowed at Oberlin, and no other societies or self-perpetuating organization is allowed among students, except by permission of the faculty. This is to be understood to include social and rooming-house clubs.'

    "I worked in Admissions at the college for most of my undergrad. career, and we were always told that there had never (ever, since its founding in 1833) been any greek life on campus.

    "A side note: some African-American women on campus belong to national black sororities sponsored through Cleveland, Ohio. These organizations, in my experience, are more like social / networking clubs than what one would traditionally call a 'sorority'. There is no prohibition at OC to being a member, but there are none of these organizations on campus. To the best of my knowledge, 2 of these groups exist, and none exist for men. (And if they did, it obviously would be an African-American group, and not an all-white group).

    "In the 80s, [which is time that we would estimate Sam Seaborn and Tom Jordan would have been in college] Oberlin was embroiled in the anti-apartheid movement. It was a time that was somewhat antithetical to the idea of having any all-white-all-male group on campus. All of the alums I have talked to since the episode are a little surprised at the choice of our school for this character! (Though the mention was very cool, at first)."

How many Credits would it really take to make a college student a junior?
Sam and Charlie seem to be way off (even if they are speaking off the cuff and exaggerating) when claiming that Charlie will be a junior after taking just a couple of classes. Marc D. Meredith, Dean of Admissions, of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles writes: "In episode #41 'Bad Moon Rising,' Sam asks Charlie what college classes he is signing up for (2) and then how many AP 'credits' he has. Charlie replies that he has:
  • English (6)
  • Math & Calculus (6)
  • European History (3)
  • French (3)
"Of course when you take the AP exam you do not receive college credits directly but a score from 1 to 5. Colleges then award college units depending on your score (credits are routinely awarded for 4 and 5 scores and sometimes 3's).

"Let's assume Charlie scored all 4's and 5's. If the college he is transferring them to (not mentioned by name?) gives him one semester's worth of credit for each exam (implied by the numbers Charlie rattles off) then before he completes his summer classes he has 18 credits (most semester courses in college are 3 or 4 credits except some math and foreign language courses which can be 5).

"Once he completes the two summer courses- Theology and English (assuming they are 3 credits each), he is up to 24.

"Most Bachelors degree programs require somewhere in the neighborhood of 124 credits. To be a sophomore you'd need around 30 and to be a junior around 60.

"So...Based on the information given to us, Charlie would be a second semester freshman, not a sophomore and for sure not a junior. Having said that, I do think he 'has game.'"

We got a contrary view that there might be another way of understanding what Charlie was saying:
Kasey writes: "This is what I"m in the process of figuring out right now (well, it's mostly 'how much can I save for college by taking AP, or should I just go ahead and go with post-secondary option and take the classes actually AT the college?').

The AP test, if you score a 4 or 5 (and sometimes a 3) on it, gives you the credit of having taken a college course in that subject. Meaning he has taken the equivalent of 18 classes.

This is not the same as having 18 semestre hours. It's more like having approximately 54 college semestre hours, plus his two more classes (both I'm guessing 3 semestre hours). which would put him up to the 60 needed to be a junior.

So he definitely has game. And a lot of college out of his way.
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