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April 13, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-04-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

editors:
laura berman
dan borus
Oontributing editor:
mary long

inside:

Sunday

magazine

page four-books
page five-features
page six-week in
review

Number 24 Page Three Apr

il 13, 1975

FEATURES

B/ack

fraternities on

campus:

Readying
I PIs,

men

fc

By JIM TOBIN
BACK WHEN EVERYBODY who
was anybody belonged to a
fraternity, it happened all the
time.
If you were pledging during fall
rush you were ready to take a
"stroke" or two - a stroke on the
rear with a wooden paddle, that is
-so the brothers at Sigma Chi or
Phi Delta Theta or Lambda Chi
Alpha would be sure you were
ready to take that fateful step into
the life of a fraternity man.
Or the brothers would blindfold
you and leave you in the woods
someplace or make you take a lap
around the Diag without the bene-
fit of clothing. Of course, nobody
took it too seriously and, you know
they once had to go through it so
you did too.
U R I N G RUSH the brothers
would tell you what it meant
to be an SAE or a Psi U-about
the fine fraternity tradition that
would always fill a meaningful
place in your life. And even though
the pretenses were stopned after
rush was over, everybody still had
that special nride in old Sicrma
Chi, that feelinty of "We're the best
and we're gonna make it when we
leave."
But fraternities vanished from
the mainstream of campus life
during the social upheaval of the
Sixties; their traditions and his-
tory remaining only in the whim-
sical memories of brothers-in-the-
mind long gone, who now resided
on the boards of corporations or on
the letterheads of prestigious law
firms.
Protest, however, subsided, and
by now most students have return-
ed to more pragmatic pursuits. The
frats have undergone a gradual
revival ,and nowhere has that re-
vival been more sharply aunarent
than in the four black fraternities
on camnus - Kanpa Alnha Psi,
Omega Psi Phi. Alpha Phi Alnha.
and Phi Beta Sirm a.
THE TRADITION OF the frater-
nity as a maker of men -

r rigors
which many thought antiquated
and without relevance a few years
back - remains strong and proud
in these four organizations. In-
deed, they defy outsiders to criti-
cize the harsh process by which
they prepare their members for life
outside the sheltered college at-
mosphere.
Kappa Alpha Psi, established in
1911 and boasting 80,000 members
nation-wide, is generally regarded
as the most prestigious black frat
here at the University. With only
twenty active members and with-
out a house, Kappa faces heavy
odds in its bid for strength and
unity, but the spirit here is un-
shakable; here the bond of bro-
therhood is resolute, helping ,the
members to succeed in the threat-
ening society which confront them.
Kappa's pledge program, usually
running eight to fourteen weeks
for those willing to last it out, is
a rigorous test of the pledgee's
commitment to becoming a broth-
er. For many, the commitment
dissolves after a few weeks:outof
five originally "on the line" this
winter.--that is, stating a de-
sire to pledge - only one remains,
and he still has not "crossed" and
become a brother.
WHILE ON THE LINE, the pled-
gee is led through a long ser-
les of rituals, "assignments", and
"joints" - twice weekly meetings
where punishments are invoked
for infringements on the extensive
set of fraternity rules. Only rarely
are the "joints" physical; more
often they involve "mind games"
designed to test how far the pledge
can go before losing his temper or
his resolve to stick it out.
Senior Bill Hunter, a pre-law
student, is the president of Pole-
march (meaning, in the Greek,
"leader in war") of Kappa Alpha
Psi. Hunter is cooly confident of
Kanpa's worth and the justness of
its purnose. Raised in the South, he
savs blacks have no choice but to
form a home where they can feel
secure in a society that stacks the
odds against them .
"What the black fraternity does

I

or ire
for the black man on campus is, I
think, to bring him into a bond
with men who have similar ideals,"
Hunter says. "We cannot erase the
fact that we are black; we can't
say that society's going to look at
us as Kappa men or Omega men.
They're going to look at us through
the eyes that we are black and so
we have to deal with that. In the
case of black students - there are
so few of them that they bond to-
gether and fight the system. Ra-
cism is here."
RUT MEMBERSHIP in the bond is
not for the taking. The pledge
process demands unquestioning
fealty in a relationship which re-
sembles feudalism, as Hunter read-
ily admits.
"You treat them (the pledgees)
as slaves and figments of noth-
ingness," Hunter explains. "You
really degrade them and try to
mentally harass them. It's like a
king-slave relationship or a mem-
ber of the aristocratic class and a
peasant.
Ed Wiggins, a freshman from Los
Angeles, is the sole pledgee re-
maining on Kappa's line. He talks
of some of the assignments he per-
forms as part of his ascent toward
the brotherhood, emphasizing his
feeling that nothing he has been
assigned has been overly taxing or
cruel:
"YOU GO ON assignment to a big
brother's house and if he's got
some dishes for you to wash you
wash them and then you sit down
and talk to him about what Kappa
means to him and what it could
do for you. He wants resnect. You
always have to remember that
you're just a pledger and he's al-
ready in."
"Let's say you wash this big
brother's dishes. Then he'll tell
you, 'I thought I told you to wash
my dishes.' And you say, 'Well I
just did Big Brother, sir.' And he
says, 'Well, I don't like the way
they look, they're dirty.' You know
you did a.good job and he's gonna
make you do it again. You'll think
he's mad but you have to keep in
the right frame of mind. You know
you did what he wanted."

Along the way the pledgee may
have to pass several days without
speaking to anyone but members
of the fraternity. Or he might be
told to leave a crowded room with-
out turning his back on anyone. At
all times he must address the old-
er members as "Big Brother, Sir!"
or by whatever title the brother
demands. One Kappa brother, ac-
cording to Hunter, declared that
pledges must address him as "Big
Brother From Whom I Will Learn
Much Wisdom."
ROTH HUNTER and Wiggins ad-
mit the initiation is designed
to be ludricrous and humiliating
to the pledge but they insist the
rites have a serious philosophical
base.
"Outsiders say a lot of things the
pledges do are silly. I agree," says
Hunter. "But they're designed that
way. The people who have the
pledgees do them know they're sil-
ly and know that for many pled-
gees it affects them mentally and
they have a hard time coping with
it.
",I thinkc what most black frater-
nities try to stress to their pledgees

is that you have to pay the price to
join," Hunter concludes. "We al-
ways stress, 'Don't be a quitter,'
because things are going to be so
difficult that sometimes pledgees
will quit, but we tell them, 'Look,
this is life - if you quit you're go-
ing to be by the wayside."
But there are some who are sim-
ply not willing to make the sacri-
fice Kappa demands.
ONE S U C H INDIVIDUAL Is
Dwight Hicks, the freshman
safety for Bo Schembechler's Wol-
verines who has nailed down a
starting position this spring. Hicks
was on Kappa's line for several
weeks until he decided the time he
was devoting to the fraternity kept
him from "being 100 per cent on
the field."
Hicks say there is only occasion-
al paddling in the pledge proce-
dure (whereas Hunter denied there
is any) and stresses that this and
other hazing did not cause him to
de-pledge. And while he says he
believes there is a need for black
fraternities, Hicks is candid in his
estimation of the motivation be-
hind them.

Daily Photo by KAREN KASMAUSKI
"Where I come from (Pennsau-
ken, N. J.)" he says, "our high
school was predominately white.
Most of the blacks here come from
Detroit and they have a bad image
of whites.
"I tell them I don't feel that way-
because I come from a different
environment. My closest friend in
high school was a white guy. There
are whites who are prejudiced and
there are blacks who are just as
prejudiced and you just can't hate
each other all the time. You're go-
ing to have to get together and
solve the problem."
H1[ICKS WON'T BECOME a Kappa.
Wiggins will. While Hicks sees
the need for a better solution, he
admits there is a necessity for
black fraternities. Young and black
a decade after the peak of Ameri-
ca's civil rights movement, they
are not completely at ease here on
the - campus of one of the most
widely-touted institutions of higher
learning in the world.

Jim Tobin, a Daily Staff
the Ann Arbor stringer for;
Free Press.

member, is
the Detroit

On civil disobedience: An anti-war

family puts
By ROB MEACHUM adages
UNTIL FOUR YEARS ago, Paul mies ba
and Addie Snyder felt right at refusing
home in Fremont, Michigan, the because
small, conservative "Baby Food ring tru
Capital of the World." The
She was your everyday house- nisce a
wife, he a hard-working and pros- believe
perous veterinarian. Their four tions -
kids were like any other of the by the
children on the block - they it is ob
played baseball, watched Saturday "When
morning cartoons and generally war m
worked hard at school. around
Like most members of the town and tri
just north of Grand Rapids, they that pe
were fanatical Goldwater conser- to som
vatives. In fact, Paul and Addie selves,"
were industrious workers in the But t
"Choice not an Echo" campaign of Today,
1964 and later came to know Re- put the
publican Congressmen Guy Vander ing the
Jagt and Gerald Ford. hilt. Gu
But that was some eleven years eau's in
ago. Since then the Snyders have is of su

their livelihood on the line

about bombing the Com-
ack to the Stone Age, and
g to give the blacks an inch
they'll take a mile, didn't
ue anymore.
Snyders don't like to remi-
ibout the days when they
d and propagated such no-
beliefs still commonly held
citizenry of Fremont. But
bvious they have changed.
the civil rights and anti-
ovements got going, people
here just shut their eyes
ed to ignore it. Well, I think
ople have to be answerable
nebody other than them-
says Addie.
his switch was not just talk.
the Snyders are willing to
eir beliefs on the line, tak-
ir civil disobedience to the
aided by Henry David Thor-
njunction - "If it (the law)
ch a nature that it requires

Q STRONG WAS their commit-
ment not to pay any taxes for
war, they decided to set up a secret
bank account out of the reach of
the federal officials. Furthermore
since Paul is self-employed, the
government couldn't garnish his
wages. It was not a stance that
met with favor in Fremont, a town
steeped in the tenets of law and
order.
Such actions are not met with
favor by the federal government,
either. Two weeks ago, the crisis
came to a head, the Snyders put-
ting their civil disobedience to the
test. On the snowy morning of Ap-
ril, 2 at 10:00, the Internal Reve-
nue service seized their home and
property, valued at nearly $80,000
and sold it in a public auction at
the Fremont Post Office.

ing so far as to set up a command
post, disguised as a vehicle Inspec-
tion checkpoint, to ward off the
unruly.
The "unruly" were there alright
-all 75 of them, heavily bundled
and looking as unmenacing as any
random sample of 75 Americans.
They were demonstrating, how-
ever, locking arms together and
singing "We Shall Overcome" un-
der the watchful eye of at least ten
silent and taut city and state pa-
trolmen.
Paul and Addie were there too,
wondering if what they had com-
mitted themselves to was worth
the consequences they and their
children now faced. While the case
was well-known and pleas for low
bids were made to those who sym-
pathised with their position, Paul
and Addie were aware that. a bid
by a speculator or someone equally
unsympathetic could take away
+har hnma antiCair if n ..c

The auction was
biggest single event
sincn eGrher Fnnds

perhaps the
in Fremont
decided that

....... ...

I

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