I can’t be the only one to think this. I feel there’s a divide on campus more distinct than race relations. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with a specific sort of mold and ends with inclusivity. It’s a clique where fitting in is encouraged and if you don’t fit the mold, you’re either not welcome or left to stick out like a sore thumb.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I guess I’ll just put it out there: fraternities and sororities that belong to the Interfraternity Council and our Panhellenic Association.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should get rid of them. I’m just saying they’re organizations that are too exclusive to ever fully partake in the diversity and inclusion movement across campus. The members of these organizations are typically (not always!) white and upper-middle class/wealthy, and have a strange obsession with rap and hip hop.
They live together, travel together, and study together. (They party together, too, but you already knew that.) Pledge class members are typically freshmen and they’re required to spend an incredible amount of time at their “house” for meetings and events. A pattern like this so early in one’s college career sets them up to constantly be around the same people and to fit in with that group. That’s part of where individuality is lost and exclusivity is formed.
Last week, I was pleased to see a group of what looked to be pledge class members of a fraternity attend the Unity Symposium. No more than 15 minutes in, each member had diverted their attention to their phones.”
To their chapter, it looks great on paper that their members attended, but in real life those members probably didn’t care about the speaker’s perspective.
In conclusion, a set of groups as tight-knit as our Greek community is one that embraces a certain mold for their members and when you fit that mold, you’re safe within that community.
This safety net has made it so that none of them care to reach out to marginalized communities.”
None of them feel the need to stand up for #BlackLivesMatter. None of them care because they’re so caught up in their privileged lives.
I honestly don’t think there’s a way to force them to care. Take the guys at the Unity Symposium for example. OU can preach all they want about diversity and inclusion, but they’re too caught up in their own world and fitting in with it.
Advice from the Author – Action Steps
- Make Upperclassmen take Diversity Training. A “Big” is an upperclassman within Greek organizations that is meant to be a friend and mentor to younger members. Right now on campus, that Big more than likely hasn’t undergone diversity training (as most Juniors and Seniors have not). Change starts higher up in their organization.
- Require all Members to Attend a Monthly Diversity & Inclusion Presentation, something that will challenge them to check their privilege. By this, I don’t mean anything about checking their privilege against the less fortunate people they fundraise for with their philanthropies. I mean checking their privilege against people they share the same class with. [Editor’s Note: You can take this eye-opening Buzzfeed Quiz, How Privileged Are You?]
- I want Greek communities to understand that their apathy hurts marginalized communities. Maybe there should be a simulated scenario where they, as privileged white college students, were oppressed? I don’t mean anything vulgar or violent, but I want them to understand how I felt as a black student at the Blackout March the day after the election. They stopped to laugh and make crude comments against us as a unified group. A simulated scenario would allow them to understand how it feels day-to-day for some students.
Just food for thought.