A major part of every college campus is the Greek system. Although, many times it goes unnoticed there is major segregation among the fraternities and sororities in the south. Why is such an important issue often overlooked? We need to be more aware of segregation because in many cases it causes conflict. What if an African American wanted to join a traditionally white fraternity or sorority or vise versa? The chances of him/her getting in are pretty slim. In fact, it would be most likely that they would not. The walls of race and the barriers from so-called ?traditions? in the Greek system should be broken in order to diversify the organizations and lead to the changes necessary to end segregation and discrimination for good.
The Civil War was over 130 years ago, and racial issues still stand even though it has been so long. It amazes me that discrimination and racism carries on today, especially among such younger generations such as college students. One would think that the younger generations would be more aware and more understanding of racial issues. After all it is these younger generations which were raised knowing that discrimination is wrong and everyone is equal no matter what their race or sex.
Everywhere in the south a distinct separation between the black and white fraternities and sororities exists. Taking a look, even within the system ?the white fraternities belong to the InterFraternity Council, the white sororities to Panhellenic and the black Greeks to the National Panhellenic Council? (McCarthy). This separation only adds to the issue of racism and discrimination that continues to this day. Many of us think that it is not our problem or choose to ignore the issue. Many think that it is just the way it is; they are right, that is the way it is, but it does not have to be segregated. By sitting back and watching, we are agreeing with segregation and saying that it is okay. Efforts to conduct more interactions within the system and among chapters should be made. A director of Greek Life, Ron Binder, pointed out that ?we wanted to be the office of Greek Life, not the white office of Greek Life? (McCarthy).
The Greek system in the north proves to be different than the south. There is no such thing as a ?black? or ?white? fraternity in the north. In the north you will find many African Americans and other minorities in the same fraternities and sororities which are predominantly white in the south. This definitely reflects on the past, but how much longer will it be before people can truly say that we are all equal.
A complaint of discrimination was filed last year at the University of Georgia against the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. One member was outraged and concerned when an African-American membership candidate ?was discussed separately from other potential members? and her sisters were finding fault with the candidate (McCarthy). Many gave her low scores ?attributed to her race? and made comments such as ?Why did she go through White Rush?? (and) ?If we had a black girl in our sorority, none of the fraternities would want to do anything with us? (McCarthy). Although it was the first time a sorority had been accused of racial discrimination, one student made the comment that ?Alpha Gamma Delta probably aren?t the only ones who do it? (McCarthy). According to Richard Mullendore, vice president of student affairs, few African American students choose to participate in membership recruitment, or rush, which shepherds participants from one predominantly white sorority to another? (McCarthy). Why then was this African-American girl being punished and viewed with conviction because her actions were different from the beliefs of so many? The member of the sorority was even accused by her sisters ?of overreacting to an issue that just wasn?t that important!? Equality is not important? I am positive those members of the sorority would not like it one bit if they were told they could not be a part of something because they were white. In many cases discrimination goes unreported, but fortunately, this one was caught and opened the eyes of many to problem of racial segregation and discrimination.
From my understanding racial discrimination has taken place at our very own Sam Houston State University as well. I know of an African American male, named Kevin, who wanted to join a predominantly white fraternity, but unfortunately he was turned down. Kevin is a wonderful person who has high morals and standards, which he sets for himself and those around him. There were many in the fraternity who encouraged him to try to join, but oddly enough, when the time came, that same amount of support was no longer there. It came as a shock to me when I learned that the reason for all of this was because of the color of his skin. For this particular fraternity they used the excuse of tradition. If Kevin would have been accepted he would have been the first African American member, and many were not ready to accept such a change. The only difference or change would be that this fraternity could have another addition, contributing as a great asset to improve their organization. Instead of judging him properly, by the content of his character, he was judged unfairly by the color of his skin. I can honestly say that it is their loss. Kevin is a much better person than over half of the members making up that fraternity. Even more upsetting to me was the fact that the entire time Kevin knew he was never going to be accepted. He did it because a bit of hope told him that he could make a difference and change something for the better. Kevin had the courage to take the first step, which is to try, and hopefully others will follow in his footsteps.
The battle to end such a crucial social issue is not completely hopeless. Many Universities are now taking steps to combat segregation. For example, the University of North Caroline ?offers diversity training workshops and programs for fraternities and sororities,? and other Universities hold discrimination programs as well (McCarthy). The University of Alabama approaches the segregation issue with a diversity oversight committee. Auburn University successfully has the three groups of the Greek system do ?joint projects and join together for Greek Week? (McCarthy). The story of Coleman Watson, a 22-year-old student at Georgia Tech, is a promising one. Against the odds, he has faced the segregation issue head on, and joined a traditionally white fraternity known as Pi Kappa Phi, as the only African American. Even more uplifting is the fact that he is the president of the fraternity as well.
Maybe now we can see that segregation in the Greek system can be a problem. It is left not up one but to all to take a stand, step outside the boundaries, and acknowledge the fact that segregation and discrimination is wrong. There is a problem and as with all other problems it will not be solved on its own. It takes hard work and a genuine effort to make a difference. In no way is the racial separation among the fraternities and sororities helping to solve the worldwide issues of discrimination. Hopefully in the very near future we can look past the color of skin. Using something so petty as skin color to separate people is only holding us back. Those who still use skin color as a way to judge a person are living a life of ignorance. If we are unable to get past such an issue than we will never be able to grow as individuals and as a nation to our full potential.