Minorities underrepresented in Greek life

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Becoming the only Asian member of the predominately black sorority Delta Sigma Theta started out as a joke between senior Tien Dang and her friends.

But after careful research, Dang found that her values and goals lined up well with what the organization could offer her. Now she proudly wears the title of the “Asian Delta.”

Dang had no real perception of Greek life as an incoming freshman, much like many other students. When she began hearing about it she was only made aware of the predominately white organizations under Panhellenic Council and IFC. She was immediately turned off by them to the point where it initially stopped her from making friends.

“I was scared of people not accepting me because I was a person of color,” said Dang.

Dang only began to hear about the multicultural organizations under National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council after visiting the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Many students on campus are unaware that these councils exist, some even questioning the organizations’ legitimacy.

“I once had an individual try to tell me my Greek organization wasn’t real,” said sophomore Darien Flowers, president of Alpha Phi Alpha.

The lack of education about the multicultural councils often begins from a student’s first visit to campus, according to Steven Johnson, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs.

“We’ve heard account after account of students at their orientation days, when they hear about Greek life it only tends to pertain to IFC and Panhellenic,” said Johnson.

The Association of Black Students has issued a demand to President Turner for the expansion of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in hope of tackling the lack awareness about multicultural life and opportunities on campus.

This was just one of ten demands ABS issued in November. Another demand revolving around Greek life called for all students considering initiation into any Greek letter organization to go through mandatory cultural intelligence and sensitivity training.

In addition to the unawareness of the multicultural Greek councils, minorities are underrepresented in Panhellenic and IFC organizations.

As of spring 2015, minorities make up 14 percent of members in Panhellenic organizations and 12 percent of members in IFC organizations.

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According to SMU’s Executive Director of News & Communication, SMU does not routinely track the racial/ethnic status of students in student organizations. This data was obtained for the Greek Life Diversity Task Force to review Photo credit: Jessica Bryant

Students are not surprised by how low these numbers are, especially after the appearance of an anonymous post on the online Greek life forum, GreekRank, titled, “Reasons black women do not and will not get bids.”

The poster under SMU’s thread explained that black women are, “aesthetically unpleasing to the eye,” “boring” and “not wealthy,” therefore they do not fit in with sorority culture on campus.

Though there was no way to determine whether or not the anonymous post was serious and actually came from an SMU student, it was a reminder of unwelcoming feelings for minority students.

“I was really hurt by the post,” said senior La’Keisha Adams. “It was disgusting and disappointing.”

For junior Gabrielle Asadoor, a former member of Greek life, the appearance of the post solidified her decision to no longer partake in Greek life.

“I didn’t want to be apart of something that is represented by this,” said Asadoor.

Some students questioned if the reasons outlined in the GreekRank post are why black women, among other minorities, are significantly underrepresented in Panhellenic organizations.

Other students believe minorities may not be attracted to these organizations to begin with because they believe they will not be accepted there, much like Dang felt her freshman year.

Asadoor believes that if minorities do not feel welcomed into these organizations, that is the fault of the sororities.

“If you’re not reaching out to minorities, how are they supposed to feel welcomed at all,” said Asadoor.

SMU is working to handle all issues involving diversity within Greek life through the Greek Life Diversity Task Force. Students can report their concerns to the Task Force and the group will review them and issue recommendations to the vice president for Student Affairs.

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