Minority Greeks: We don’t exclude

Miki Johnson

The Northwestern community has a lot to learn about historically Asian, black and Latino Greek organizations, said participants in Wednesday’s forum about the groups.

“Most people know a lot about their own group but not much about the other ones,” said Jackie Nolley, a Weinberg senior and Sigma Lambda Gamma member.

Their event — “The Darker Side of Greek Life” — had a lot to teach, organizers said.

When Joy Matias, also a member of SLG, saw how NU’s historically Asian, black and Latino Greek organizations were described in the book “Purple” earlier this year, she said she was “shocked, offended and insulted.”

The book, an unofficial guide to NU written by two undergraduate students, said the groups do not have houses and are not recognized by the university because they are discriminatory, Matias said.

Matias, Weinberg ’02, said she originally began organizing the forum in October specifically to combat the book’s misrepresentations of the Latino chapters on campus as well as to educate NU about the relatively new chapters.

But to explain the history and purposes of historically Asian and black, in addition to Latino, fraternities and sororities, she joined forces with National Pan-Hellenic Council and the historically Asian fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Matias said.

“This is meant to be an eye-opener for all those who remain in the dark (about these organizations),” said NPHC Vice President Shayla Cooper, a Communication senior and Delta Sigma Theta member.

About 50 students attended the forum, which started with a presentation on the nationwide creation and the evolution of the Asian, black and Latino Greek organizations.

Representatives from each of NU’s 10 non-traditional fraternities and sororities answered audience questions, including one on the misconception that the historically Asian, black and Latino organizations accept only Asian, black and Latino students.

“Diversity is power; without diversity you are limiting your power,” said Bo Nam, a Weinberg sophomore and the Lambda Phi Epsilon representative. “If we discriminate we can only make ourselves weaker.”

One of the major differences between the chapters represented at the forum and traditional Greek chapters is that the non-traditional ones don’t have houses.

And they don’t appreciate being referred to as houses, said Andria Caruthers, the Alpha Kappa Alpha representative.

Despite the comments in “Purple,” the real reason the groups do not have houses is simply that they are too small, said Caruthers, a Weinberg senior.

Representatives from the fraternities and sororities said the organizations at NU currently range in size from three to 18 members.

Above all, forum representatives stressed that, although their chapters were started by Asian, black or Latino students, they now accept all students and are dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding among all races and cultures.

“I wish we could have filled up 10 rooms this size in order to dispel these rumors,” said Matias. “But if we educate one person and they educate one more person, we have made a difference.”