Groups seek campus presence
As Greek Week draws to a close, some members of minority greek groups are struggling to achieve the on-campus recognition enjoyed by traditional fraternities and sororities.
Students in groups represented by the Inter-Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council-which represent "cultural" and traditionally black fraternities and sororities, respectively-said their presence on campus is still dwarfed by that of the groups in Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association.
"Not only are [IFC fraternities] residential, they're just a lot more visible and their numbers are a lot larger," said junior Nick Pardo, vice president of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, Inc., a Latino fraternity. "People attach this stigma to us about self-segregating."
Both Pardo and junior Margaret Farquharson, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., part of NPHC, said they would like to see higher profiles for their groups on campus.
Pardo said that while LUL has a high profile on some other campuses-most notably in the northeastern part of the country-culturally based fraternities have not achieved similar recognition at Duke.
"NPHC groups are very visible," he said. "The step show is a very impressive sort of event-it's almost sold out every year and you see all types of people there. One of the hurdles IGC has is that we don't have a big event that brings everyone together."
Farquharson, however, said NPHC should strive to be recognized for what it does beyond step shows.
"If you ask what NPHC does, people automatically will say step shows," she said. "I want us to go beyond the social aspect and have people look at what we're doing for our communities."
Junior Cristian Liu, president of Lambda Phi Epsilon, said he thinks IGC groups contribute to campus life through cultural workshops and collaboration with other groups.
"At the very least, IGC groups are culturally, socially and service-oriented," he said. "I'm not sure how that would go for IFC and Panhel, but we work equally hard on all three."
In order to promote visibility, IGC President Jeannette Barajas, a senior, said her organization will be holding neighborhood meetings to try to make freshmen more informed about their options.
"Awareness of other organizations [outside of IFC and Panhel] isn't high among freshmen coming in," she said. "When there's only two members on campus in an organization, it's hard to recruit."
Todd Adams, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life, oversees and advises all four greek councils. He said the groups' public profiles are close to reaching parity.
"Obviously our Inter-Greek Council is our youngest council, and NPHC is the second-youngest," he said. "In terms of size, Panhellenic has the most people and IFC is the largest in number of chapters. I would suggest that IGC and NPHC, through their programming in the last few years, are at least as visible as the others."
Representatives from IFC, Panhel, IGC and NPHC all said there is a strong relationship between the leaders of the four councils; council presidents meet weekly, and the four executive boards went on a retreat in Spring 2006.
But as groups in both NPHC and IGC strive to expand, the question of self-segregation continues to haunt them.
"Ethnic fraternities market to their own ethnic groups-not because they're racist, but because it's easier to recruit that way," Liu said. "A lot of our fraternities are actively working against self-segregation."
Pardo said there is a misconception that culturally based groups are exclusive and insular. "People say, 'I'm not Latino, so I couldn't rush or join,' and that's not what we're about," he said.
Julian Sanchez, director of the University's Multicultural Center, said he does not think that self-segregation is a major problem on campus.
"We should build links, but maintain separate identities, rather than press to a common norm," he said. "When you think about what that would be, it's not very appealing-to me at least."