Most Greek Life members, Frat brothers and Sorors alike, wont share this post because they are scared. ““Scared of what?” you might ask. Scared of what may really happen if they decide to share the truth.
In the September 2014 issue of Marie Claire an in-depth article was written about the obvious segregation between “historically White Greek-letter organizations”, “historically Black Greek-letter organizations”, and social injustices for women who have attempted to pledge. The article highlights how the University of Alabama’s Greek Life System, despite the troubled and racially-charged past, has made new-age progress by allowing Black females to join predominantly White Greek-letter organizations through the annual “Rush” process. This progress was made after “more than 100 students” rallied and essentially forced these greek letter organizations to hold an informal rush, resulting in 21 black women receiving a bid to pledge these predominantly white organizations.
Read about it here: http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/inspirational-women/revolution-on-sorority-row-september-2014
NOW- before I go into my rant about this issue I must commend these women on even attempting to change the game and go outside of the social norm. However, by the time I got to the end of this article all I could do was laugh. Yep, I let out a hearty laugh for a number of reasons.
- If your Greek Life system has almost 9,000 members then 21 female radicals does not define progress for me.
- If you are aware that an organization actively attempted to keep YOU from joining, WHY would you then pledge to uphold that organizations principles for the rest of your life (because that’s what pledging is in a nutshell) and proudly represent them? Not to blame the victim, but REALLY??!? C’MON NOW!
- The South is the South. Now I am NOT conservative at all but I was shocked to realize that the rest of the country didn’t understand how deeply race plays into EVERYTHING when it comes to matters ‘Under the Mason-Dixon Line.’
The most unfortunate fact for me was that my alma mater, THE University of South Carolina mirrored every negative aspect of this article at one time. I am proud to say that I, too, had to take a stand at one point within the Greek Life system and made a change.
When I came to USC I was not naïve to the fact that Greek Life was “black” or “white” (Sorry Divine 9, and Greek Villagers), but lets just be real. USC’s student body, however, was so diverse and our university consistently boasted about international programs, the POWERHOUSE that is the Darla Moore School of Business, etc. We are the flagship school for THE STATE of South Carolina- but yet, our Greek Life was as colorful as an obituary. And not to mention the racial tensions that existed were painfully obvious. I remember when a “predominantly black Greek-letter organization” moved into the Greek Village (aka Greek Row.) And I must mention that USC’s Greek Village consists of million-dollar mansions, complete with maid services, etc. NO, im not exaggerating. Shortly after this organization moved into the Greek Village the groups celebration was stifled once they woke up to an internet frenzy of racial tension. (Zoom in if you need to!)
YES. Cotton.- Like slavery….They took it there.
OR, one day shortly after Obama was elected as President, there was a large noose hanging from a tree in front of the campus central hub, the Russell House Student Union.
OOOR, when a “predominantly black Greek function” (and by function I mean cookout) was held and an altercation occurred and the function was ended. The following day one of the university administrators released a statement saying that when altercations occur like that “ We used to just spray them down with hoses…..”
Let that sink in for a moment…
SO after doing research about multicultural sororities I, and a few other lovely ladies I can call my sororZ today, decided that maybe that would be a good move for “the Real USC.” But that was no easy task. After telling a few people about this idea they told me that it would never happen and that it was a terribly stupid idea. The problem about that is when people tell me I cant do something I make it a point to do it, and do it well. And after 2 years of hard work my sorors and I founded the Rho Chapter of Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. However, in that 2 year span our group faced serious ridicule- from all sides. After going to the directors in our greek life office about expanding a ZSC chapter intially I was told that “USC greek life isn’t ready for a new group like that.”
OH! Ok! Its only like 2010. That’s Cool. *rolls eye *
We got told “no” on a number of issues. We winded up going to that office about 3-4 times before we received approval. Even after becoming an official greek organization on campus we had to be voted onto the university’s Greek Council, which was four of the chapter presidents from the “historically black greek letter organizations” and abooouuuuut twenty two chapter presidents from the “historically white greek letter organizations”. SOMEHOW we were voted onto this council, but judging by the length of time we waited for tallied votes, and the stares received shortly after this session, it was VERY APPARENT that it was NOT a unanimous decision. When we attempted to actively reach out to the “historically white Greek letter organizations” by going literally house to house in the Greek village and handing out personalized invitations to our social event, (which was sponsored by a local business), we appeared to be boycotted-just a handful of the members of those organizations showed up- out of thousands of greeks who were aware. And EVEN after that, (probably because I was president and I’m black), we still got lumped in with the “historically black greek letter organizations”, gaining the group nickname of “The Divine 10”- which was so offensive to me I could cuss- and I am positive it was JUST as offensive to them.
EVEN AFTER THAT- It took me sitting on an intake orientation panel with all of the Divine 9 presidents in front of hundreds of incoming students and speaking very frankly about how our organization is multiCULTURAL not just multiracial, open to all ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations (don’t!), and blatantly speaking out about how (unlike the rest of the greek presidents I offended saying it) ZSC does not financially discriminate.
Then one day it changed. Things just got better. People “got it.” But it was rough from the jump. #LeStruggle.
Since then, the sisters from my chapter have continued to be change-makers. They have been pioneers in founding the Multicultural Greek Council on USC’s campus and other organizations have been chartered and joined (multicultural fraternities, latin sororities and fraternities, etc.) I cant speak highly enough about them.
So while I commend the brave women in the article speaking out about the injustices of Greek Life, I also encourage anyone willing to really make a difference to take their time to do it- and not just talk about it. My generation has been stuck with the lazy label. Don’t fit it for one more day.
There are much bigger and more important tasks to tackle than Greek life- because “Greek Life” is optional, but the rest of your life is not. So do something. Do anything- but don’t just accept things because “that’s how they’ve always been.”
That’s all I really wanted to say.
If you have any questions or comments please post them. I would love to hear what you have to say. And share this article if you aren’t scared.
Make new traditions and don’t be quiet about it.