by Vicki Colbert | Staff Writer|
Minorities dominate 70 percent of the student body, yet they do not make up the majority of Greek life on campus.
It’s an increasing issue especially for black fraternities and sororities where support is dwindling in support on campus.
The first weeks of school are considered “Rush Week” for most Greek organizations at CSUSB. As I passed through the outside of the Santos Manuel Student Union, most Greek organizations were trying to recruit, but there were little to no black fraternities and sororities tabling among everyone else.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone in my observation. Third-year student Kristina Hall said she was once interested in joining an organization but never found access to membership information.
“It’s kind of hard to get information about them and what they do if they aren’t out,” Hall stated in regards to black sororities on campus.
I did some more research and my findings were similar. Out of ten black CSUSB students I polled at random, nine knew about one or more black fraternities or sororities at CSUSB, two were members of a Greek organization not historically rooted to ethnicity, and eight considered joining a black Greek organization but gradually lost interest.
These eight students lost interest mainly due to low representation and promotion of black Greeks.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), is the national council for historically black-founded fraternities and sororities comprises. The fraternities include Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta. The sororities include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho.
I decided to dig deeper to find out what is the underlying reason is to the dying black Greek life on this campus.
To put things into perspective, here are some statistics about CSUSB and our Greeks; currently posted on the CSUSB website, black students represent 11 percent of the 17,500 plus students enrolled here. Furthermore, only three out of nine organizations under the NPHC have sought and regained endorsement by the Student Leadership and Development Office, and now are recognized on campus.
However, in 2006, it was a much different story. At least seven of the NPHC organizations were present on campus and kept black Greek life thriving.
So I pose the question: what happened? Why has the black Greek life become menial and almost nonexistent? With a campus as large as CSUSB, and with a hefty black proportion of students, it is surprising that there aren’t more NPHC organizations on this campus.
According to Kenneth Mosely of Phi Beta Sigma, the Greek morale among black students decreases more and more every year due to loss of members and inactivity on the organizations’ part.
“Everyone takes pride of the org they’re in but when it comes to the NPHC, everyone sees the bigger picture,” said William Johnson, president of the NPHC at Cal Poly Pomona.
“We need to be collectively stronger as a unit since we are low on numbers in comparison to other orgs,” Johnson added. “And we carry a greater influence on campus when we work together.”
With Latin Greek organizations averaging about 15- 20 members, and others like Zeta Tau Alpha averaging about 50, the three NPHC organizations at CSUSB get lost behind the shadows with only about five to ten members a chapter.
However, I don’t think just being recognized on campus again is enough. I want to know what each organization plans to do if/when they should gain charter rights on campus again. I would like to see the NPHC at CSUSB gain and remain strong. It will give the black students here something to look forward to rather than treat CSUSB just as another commuter school.
Ultimately, the most important step after gaining members is retaining members. Staying consistent is what essentially makes an organization succeed. Another important factor, Edward Hewitt of Phi Beta Sigma, suggests that every organization needs to set aside their differences and support one another’s events and programs. Not only will that build unity, but also pride within the black student body by working together.
But above all, the black community needs to make a statement as a minority voice on campus, a revival of culture, and it starts with the people who hold that leadership role, the Divine Nine.