North Texas Daily

Greeks must stand for equality

Greeks must stand for equality

Greeks must stand for equality
October 23
23:16 2013

A student newspaper at the University of Alabama sparked a heavily loaded debate over whether racism is still supported throughout the nation’s Greek Life communities. The UA greek system was described as the “last bastion of segregation on campus,” making students wonder whether that applies to their universities as well, including the University of North Texas.

Greek Life has been an integral part of UNT since 1952 and branched out to multi-cultural organizations in the early 1990’s, but it hasn’t moved very far forward. Many students are ready for a change.

In Alabama last month, an African-American high school salutatorian with a 4.3 GPA was denied a bid from all 16 Panhellenic sororities at the University of Alabama campus. The applicant formally complained that her race was the reason for her rejection, and the controversy came to light. Active members in most of the 16 sororities were in favor of accepting this recruit, but were outvoted by the alumni.

Is segregation still clinging to our generation? A look across North Texas’s campus may imply this as false, but under the surface many students have experienced this same rejection. There are eight Panhellenic sororities on campus, but minority members make up only a small percentage. The same could be said for the Interfraternity Council.

Greek houses once put clauses in their constitutions that explicitly banned recruitment of certain racial groups, and as a result racial-interest houses formed. Today, no houses have explicit bans on recruiting members, yet the historical notion that people of the same racial group feel more comfortable around each other still remains embedded in the greek structure.

Fraternities and sororities are organizations that by nature are selective in their goal to group members who have similar interests and appearance. The houses considered “top-tier,” or most popular among the rest, include the smallest number of minority women. One sorority house invited their first African American student into their chapter this fall, almost 40 years since the Civil Rights Act Movement of 1964.

The different councils that exist at universities show the separation. Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC) are main governing councils of fraternities and sororities that are often labeled as “white” houses. Ten Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) have been formed by minorities who either did not get in to the Interfraternity or Panhellenic councils, or merely wanted to avoid discrimination and make their own.

It has been wisely suggested that more events between all four councils at UNT could help achieve the goal of breaking racial barriers between the organizations. Although UNT Homecoming office supports teaming together fraternities and sororities from all councils, it is rare that the different organizations actually meet in person and socialize.

Despite being involved in the Greek community at a university or not, keep in mind: When we remain silent in the face of racist attitudes and threats, we are just as guilty as those who take part in them. In order to thrive as a campus and community, we need to stand equal in all aspects of UNT’s education system.

Devyn Bernal is a journalism senior. She can be reached at DevynBernal@my.unt.edu.

In this August 17, 2013 photo, female students at the University of Alabama prepare to run from Bryant-Denny Stadium to their new sorority houses after receiving their bids in Tuscaloosa. The university is ordering changes in its sorority system amid charges of discrimination in the Greek-letter organizations, which university president Judy Bonner acknowledged on September 17, 2013, are segregated by race. Feature photo courtesy of Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News via AP

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