The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 9, 1996- 3
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Minority fraternities, sororities foster unity among members
The unofficial house of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity.
BY KATIE WANG
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
* t's nine o'clock on a Saturday morning and
Engineering senior Shawn Ward has just arrived at
Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor.
While the majority of the University
student body spends Saturday mornings
sleeping in, Ward and the brothers of his
fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, spend their Sat-
urday mornings tutoring students ages 12
to 16. Serving as a role model to the young-
sters, Ward patiently helps a young girl
with mathematical word problems.
Meanwhile, Kia Berry and the women of
her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, arrive in an
Ann Arbor suburb and apply a fresh coat of
paintto a house they helped build. Berry and
her sorority sisters have also
decided to dedicate some of
inority Greek their Saturday mornings to
Members work on a construction
project with Habitat for Hu-
Bill Cosby Ward, Berry and about
Michael Jordan 150 students are all mem-
Shaquille O'Neal bersoftheGreek system-
Douglas Wilder but it is not the Greek sys-
Martin Luther King Jr. tern most students are fa-
Thurgood Marshall miliar with. Instead it is a
Dennis Archer system of fraternities and
Jesse Owens sororities whose member-
W;E.B. DuBois ship is composed mostly of
Lena Horne African Americans and
Barbara Jordan whose main focus isoncom-
#Winnie Mandela munity service. It is a sys-
Mary McLeod Bethune tem that is quickly making
Camile Cosby its presence felt throughout
Wilma Rudolph the campus and community.
Ruby Dee History
Qaisy Bates In 1906 at Cornell Uni-
versity, seven African
American male students decided to join to-
gether to form a fraternity for black men,
who, because of the color of their skin, were
denied membership to the all-white fraterni-
ties on campus. They named their fraternity
Alpha Phi Alpha. and three years later a
chapter opened at Michigan.
Twenty-three years later, Alpha Phi Al-V
pha was joined on campus by its sister soror-
ity, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Like its brother
fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha was also
founded at Cornell University because of the
discriminatory practices of white sororities.
The fraternities and sororities have ex-
panded nationally and internationally since
the early half of the century. On campus
BLACK GREEK ASSOCIATION:
KAT - KAPPA ALPHA PSI
A4A - ALPHA PHI ALPHA 4
AKA - ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA 01
OY( - OMEGA PSI PHI IF
AI0 - DELTA SIGMA THETA AT
there are nine predominantly African
American Greek organizations in addi-
tion to groups that serve the Latino/a and
Asian American communities.
A number of the black sororities, such
as Sigma Gamma Rho, have hundreds of
chapters throughout the nation, Europe,
the Carribbean and in Africa.
"It's like having a whole bunch of sis-
ters," said Patrice Petway, vice president
of Sigma Gamma Rho. "Anywhere I go I
know there is someone who I have a
special bond with."
The growing number of these organiza-
tions reflects the increasing number of mi-
norities who are not interested in joining the
"mainstream" Greek system, but instead are
turning to another facet of Greek life.
Why People Join
During her first year, LSA senior Jen
Chua participated in the Panhellenic
Association rush activities. After two
weeks, she stopped because she said she
felt none of the sororities suited her.
Last fall, Chua and 12 other women
formed the campus chapterofAlpha Kappa
Delta Phi - the first in the Midwest.
"We want to provide a stronger voice for
Asian American women because we are
considered a double minority," Chua said.
Isaias Nono Cantu Jr., president of the
Latino fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta, said
his fraternity helps him "keep (me) where
(my) roots are."
Many of the members of the minority
Greek system echoed Cantu's sentiments
and said a stronger bond is formed be-
tween people of the same race because of
their similar backgrounds.
"I never considered joining a white soror-
ity because that's not who I am," said Jenna
Buan, a member of Tau Kappa Omicron. "I
want a group that will fit me. I don't want a
group that I have to fit in."
Tau Kappa Omicron Sisterhood is the
first multicultural sorority in the country.
Richard Rountree, a Business senior,
said he doesn't think he closed his eyes to
a white fraternity, but instead said he could
identify with the black Greek system.
"I wanted to join a fraternity that repre-
sented my struggle at the University and in
Terrence Washington, an ISA junior and member of Alpha Phi Alpha, volunteers at Scarlett School helping Orale Hood (left) in Spanish.
life," Rountree said.
Others, including Black Greek Association Presi-
dent Petway, said they were drawn to the culturally
based Greek system because of the vast amount of
community service the organizations perform.
"I decided to join because the focus is different,"
Petway said. "Most community services are based
on uplifting the black community."
Notion of Separatism
Because the membership of the fraternities and
sororites is composed mostly of students of color,
many other students have the illusion that this Greek
system is racially exclusive as well.
All the fraternities and sororities interviewed by
The Michigan Daily said this is false and member-
ship is open to all races.
Berry, who is president of Delta Sigma Theta,
emphasized that although historically the sorority
has been predominantly African American, "all
races are welcome to join."
Berry noted there are white members in other
Darilis Garcia, president and co-founder of the
Latina sorority Delta Tau Lambda, said Latino/a
sororities and fraternities are necessary because they
address specific needs of her group.
"I'm not trying to separate myself," she said.
"I'm trying to help my people. If I don't take care
of mine, no one will."
ASIAN AMERICAN HOUSES:
KA4-- KAPPA DELTA PHI
APE - LAMBDA PHI EPSILON
By dedicating hours of community service and
establishing scholarships for area high school stu-
dents to attend college, all of the organizations have
established themselves as friends of the community.
The Alpha Gamma Psi Sorority Inc. set up the
"Rites of Passage" program with schools in the
Ann Arbor area. They visit the schools during
lunch break to discuss issues like date rape.
Alpha Kappa Alpha has scheduled a bucket drive
this month for the Africare program - to help
industrialize underdeveloped villages in Africa.
"I don't think we're being separatist - we're
uniting black people," said Ena Randolph, a mem-
ber of Alpha Kappa Alpha. "This is an organiza-
tion where you can have pride in your race."
How to Join
Unlike the organizations in Panhel and the Inter-
fraternity Council, many of the other Greek orga-
nizations do not conduct a formal rush. Instead,
many hold informational meetings during the se-
mester for those who are interested.
In the fall, BGA, an umbrella organization for
the nine predominantly black fraternities and so-
rorities on campus, hosts an open house for
every organization to speak about themselves.
Almost all of the minority Greek organizations
have less than 20 active members.
"I like the fact we're not huge because it's a lot
easier to get to know 20 people," said Jason Kang,
president of Lambda Phi Epsilon.
1AB - SIGMA LAMBDA BETA
This fall the letters Lambda Phi
Epsilon will replace Pi Lambda Phi
on the house at 820 Oxford St.
The campus chapter of Lambda Phi
Epsilon, a predominantly Asian
Ameriean fraternity, is renting the
house, making it the first ethnic-spe-
cific fraternity or sorority to officially
have a house.
- "We're not just going to be a back-
ground fraternity - we're going to
have a more visible place on cam-
pus," said LSA sophomore Dan Yu.
"It's a really big step for us and for
The fraternity calls the house at
418 South Division St. their "unoffi-
cial" house where seven of the 20
Many of the organizations said they
considered getting a house, but due to
small membership or lack of funds,
they did not.
Sean Franklin, president of Alpha
Phi Alpha, said he would like to get
a house, but strict Ann Arbor zoning
laws may stand in the fraternity's
Due to complaints from Ann Ar- :
bor residents about loud behavior4
and parties, the city tightened re-
strictions for Greek organizations to
buy a house in the 1980s. y
"Once alcohol moved out of the,
donm, theonlvonnortunitiesto drink '
BI - PHI BETA SIGMA
TB - THETA PSI BETA
FP - SIGMA GAMMA RHO
r - ALPHA GAMMA PSI
TKO - TAU KAPPA OMICRON
ATA - DELTA TAU LAMBDA
BEING A MINORITY IN THE
MAINSTREAM GREEK SYSTEM
When LSA first-year student Annie
Chen arrived on campus last fall, she
participated in the Panhellenic Associa-
tion rush activities. Chen, who pledged
Alpha Chi Omega, said she never consid-
ered joining the Asian American sorority
"When we went to certain parties,
people weren't looking at me as a poten-
tial person to date," said Reed, who is half
African American and half white.
Sean de Four, an African American
Other minority students said they dic
not want to join a minority Greek organi
zation because it "lacks diversity."
"You have to take into consideratiop
that they are just as un-diverse as we
are," said Eileen Reynolds, a Hispania
r, '' t t