Panel debates greek issues

By Brenden Walz

The truths, lies and misconceptions about black and white greek organizations received a lot of discussion Wednesday by greeks as well as non-greeks.

“Black Greeks vs. White Greeks or No Greeks” was the title of the panel discussion held Wednesday at the Holmes Student Center.

Members of the 14-person panel included fraternities and sorority members of the Black Greek Council as well as fraternity members of the Interfraternity Council and sorority members of the Panhellenic Council.

About 120 people attended the discussion and asked the panelists questions most of the evening.

At one point during a discussion of the history of black and white greek organizations, Sigma Nu white fraternity president John Butler was asked how he felt about the fact that founders of Greek civilization stole the foundations of their culture from Africa.

Butler responded and said he was aware of it, adding “I am sorry.”

At the beginning of the discussion, audience members were asked by the moderators to write down an adjective or phrase that summarized their feelings about greek organizations as well as non-greek organizations.

One of the adjectives which described non-greeks as “do- nothing leeches” brought a response by panelist Kim Davis, of SISTERS, a non-greek organization.

Davis said non-greek organizations such as SISTERS do a lot of activities. “Maybe you don’t see what they have been doing,” she said.

Black Student Union member Michelle Johnson said most activities put on by non-greek organizations hardly get a rise of interest from students. But any event cosponsored with a greek organization brings huge crowds.

“They (non-greek organizations) do not get the credit they deserve,” Johnson said.

Other issues brought up during the discussion included the perception of greeks as being held up as role models for non-greeks and also the subject of animosity between black and white greeks.

Some members of the audience said greeks are watched more because they wear a greek letter.

But Zeta Phi Beta black sorority member Carolyn Watkins offered a different perspective.

“I’m still Carolyn when I got in,” she said. “Things are not going to change when you go into an organization.”

Delta Gamma sorority member Jennifer Leonard agreed. “My letters don’t represent all of me,” she said.

On the subject of animosity between black and white greek organizations, Butler attributed most of the problems to the continued existence of racism.

“People are still racist,” he said. “They need to come out to events like this and work out their racism.”

Alpha Phi Alpha black fraternity member Alfred Tatum said the animosity was due more to differences between black and white greek organizations.

“We have different purposes and there’s not much crossover,” Tatum said.