North Texas Daily

Greek Life potentially perpetuates racist mindsets

Greek Life potentially perpetuates racist mindsets

March 12
00:12 2015

Editor’s Note: This article is an editorial, written on behalf of the Editorial Board of the North Texas Daily, comprised of the editors on staff. An editorial represents the stance of the eight editors, not that of one author. By way of a Letter to the Editor, we hope all fraternity and sorority students express their opinion on this editorial.

The Editorial Board

Former University of Oklahoma students Levi Pettit and Parker Rice acted disgracefully with fellow members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon when they chanted severely racist remarks toward black students. But this one instance is only an indicator and revelation into fraternity culture.

The use of racial slurs toward any people is intolerable, and OU president David Boren and the administration were correct and justified in expelling Rice and Pettit, the alleged leaders of the chant. The university prides itself in being a reachable place in the Southwest for scholars of multiple demographics to attend. By suspending the students, and ending relations with SAE, OU showed the world that racial discrimination is not tolerable at the school.

But for the fraternity itself, it has a pattern of irresponsible behavior. This resulted in SAE’s expulsion from UNT in 2003, when it was investigated for hazing, alcohol and physical abuse after a freshman pledge was found unconscious on Oak Street. It is clear the national fraternity administration should reevaluate its oversight priorities, and should be transparent of its leadership.

Fraternity and sorority lifestyles are stereotypically characterized as unruly, party-going college kids who are out to celebrate four years through college. And while that is unfair, the fundamental ideals that underpin these clubs are inclusive and privatized in nature. Fraternities rely on some level of secrecy to create an atmosphere of brotherhood, where the very problem is revealed.

Racist groups, or classes, gather under the guise of common mindset, lifestyle and preference; white racists will likely not participate with anti-white racial sects. Likewise, fraternity seekers join groups comprised of people who are of like mind, lifestyle and preference. Herein lies the inherent flaw of Greek Life in terms of race: if you cultivate a society (fraternity and sorority life) that promotes and endorses exclusivity and encourages social brotherhood, then de facto segregation and self segregation guide the functionality of the said society.

In other words, the very idea of fraternity is to bond and share ideas in one, singular brotherhood, nurturing that group’s philosophy above all else. This is a problem, pure and simple.

However, the argument can respectfully be made that it is human nature to attract and bond with those of like mind, and that fraternity life is nothing less than natural. Such argumentation insinuates that race is the fundamental issue with the OU SAE situation, not Greek Life, which brought the students together in the first place.

Most fraternities are comprised of mostly white students. When they were formed in the early 1800s, racial tensions were high. Nonwhite students were discouraged to join because of the lack of diversity. As a result, color-based fraternities arose, and are a big part of university life. Here, we can see so clearly how much race lends itself into the very foundation of fraternity life. That is not to say all fraternities comprised of white males are racist. But that is to say that some groups, who are of like mind, may easily cultivate an atmosphere of racism, among other things.

Racism is a despicable reality of our culture, but for this instance, it is not the gleaming issue. We need to understand that the structure of the fraternity system lends itself to instances such as this. Racism is a virus that can expand and spread across any system.

All too often, these groups are associated with negative reports and inquires. Because of the exclusiveness of fraternities, it’s often difficult to report on Greek Life news and happenings. If fraternities and sororities wish to abolish stereotypes, they should be more transparent and allow the outside an inside look into what goes on. Be honest with the public or face further scrutiny.

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