Our View: Where you belong, if...
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
There are few bulletin board locations that aren’t covered with Greek Life’s “A place where you belong” posters.
Greek Life uses this advertising campaign to encourage participation in rushing and hopefully fill up their houses with more members.
However altruistic this may seem to be, this catchy sales pitch is missing the most important two letters; “if”.
ASU Greek life is the place you belong; if you fit the direction of the organization, if you have a certain GPA, if you are pretty enough, if you make our donors happy, and maybe if you have the right color of skin?
Because sororities and fraternities are private membership organizations the selection processes are confidential and the discrimination is systemic.
You don’t have to look hard to find a group of people who sought the place to belong in Greek life but were told they didn’t have what it takes. The most recent incident receiving national attention, took place at the University of Alabama.
Information was leaked to the Collegiate Newspaper, the Crimson White, about two girls who were not allowed to join a sorority on the basis of their skin color alone.
The story quickly evolved into a question of alumnae involvement in controlling the direction and recruitment of membership.
Not only are sororities and fraternities exclusive, but also because of the input from alumni, there is a tradition to this exclusiveness. Alumni protect their say in the workings of the organizations through financial pressures and promises.
In many cases in Greek Life these donor funds become contributions for allowing, promoting and protecting racism, pure and simple.
Although it would be easy to point the fingers of blame at the alumni, the exclusionary practices don’t start and end there.
For example, the girls in question at Alabama were turned down by all 16 of the all-white sororities, many of which do not have alumni allowed in their voting process. Clearly it was not just the alumni who did not want these women pledging.
It is not unique to Alabama, and certainly not A-State, that the exclusive nature of sororities and fraternities be used to disenfranchise.
In the current status quo we see sororities and fraternities across the country where pledges actually gravitate to the organizations that are racially segregated.
Allowing sororities and fraternities to be ‘all’ black or ‘all’ white, even in just practice is problematic, as it normalizes discrimination for anyone.
Maybe Greek life should make an advertisement change to “a place where no one belongs.”
The bitter irony in this story is that Alabama is celebrating 50 years of integration this year. As promising as the first 50 years of desegregation has been, I can’t wait to see what another 50 years of systemic racism can produce.