K-State greek life strives for diversity

Members of the homecoming greek pairing of Chi Omega, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Kappa Theta, Triangle, and Phi Beta Sigma perform at Wildcat Request Live on Oct. 13, 2015 in Bramlage Coliseum. As one of K-State's homecoming traditions, Wildcat Request Live is a lip sync and dance competition showcase that sororities and fraternities participate in. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Recent civil rights movements across the nation, racism discrimination and lack of diversity are issues that are being called into question everywhere.

In the spring semester of 2015, the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter was expelled from campus for chanting racial slurs geared toward black people during a bus ride to a party. The incident at OU started up a nationwide conversation about diversity within fraternities and sororities, the Washington Post reported.

At K-State, although there have been no incidents like the one at OU, some believe that there are still some issues with diversity within the greek community.

“I can tell you what I see from the outside is that there is not a lot of diversity within the groups,” Sabrina Flowers, senior in life sciences and women’s studies, said. “So, with each individual group you might see the same type of person – maybe the same type of background, so there’s really just a group of alike people and there’s nothing wrong with that – but there’s no diversity so I kind of question what they’re learning from one another.”

Within the greek community, there are different types of chapters that are all under the supervision of the Office of Greek Affairs. These include the “traditional” sororities and fraternities, which operate under the National Panhellenic Conference and Interfraternity Council, respectively. Also included is a group of multicultural chapters that are classified under the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

“Personally, I do think greek life could be more inclusive,” Loren Taylor, junior in life sciences and chapter secretary of NPHC fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, said. “Our fraternity just recently joined IFC to make things more inclusive and to really bridge that gap that has been going on.”

According to Mikel Neil, senior in kinesiology and diversity chair of Phi Beta Sigma, joining IFC will help increase inclusivity and collaboration between traditional and multicultural greeks.

“We want the campus to be inclusive, we want everyone on campus to be together and bridge the gap between minorities and majorities,” Neil said. “How I see things is as long as we are being inclusive and not exclusive and including everyone in everything that we do, everything works perfectly and we can bridge that gap.”

Although there are instances such as this where efforts are being made to increase diversity and collaboration between groups, some have said they find the current lack of diversity to be a turn off.

“I have considered joining the greek system, but I changed my mind because I thought there was a lack of representation and you have this fear of being a token in a group where there’s not a lot of minorities,” Flowers said. “I didn’t join an African-American sorority for the same reason. There is no diversity. I like to be in groups that are super diverse with a lot of different types of people with different types of backgrounds.”

According to Ben Hopper, K-State greek life coordinator, the makeup of membership within fraternities and sororities can be linked to their historical beginnings.

“We have fraternities here on campus that were founded as early as 1824 that were pre-Civil War, so they were founded as white institutions because this was before African-Americans were even allowed to go to college,” Hopper said.

According to Hopper, the office of greek affairs is working towards a more inclusive campus across the board.

“One thing we do well here at K-State is we have a variety of groups on campus,” Hopper said. “With over 475 campus organizations, I want us to collaborate more not only between other fraternities and sororities, but I want us to collaborate with more groups on campus.”