Asian students discuss role in Greek culture
The Asian Students Association hosted a panel in the Richard White Lecture Hall Thursday night addressing the presence of Asians in greek life.
The panel consisted of Asian and non-Asian students from a range of fraternities and sororities in the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Panhellenic Association, the Interfraternity Council and the Inter-Greek Council.
ASA President Kevin Fang, a senior, posed questions about the experiences of Asians in greek organizations.
"The reason I rushed was to see what it was all about," said sophomore Kathy Choi, a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. "It was important for me to get to know upperclassman women-I think its hard to do that as a freshman."
Many students explained that racial affiliation had little to do with their choice of a fraternity or sorority.
"I chose my frat because of the brothers at the time," said junior Jack Lee, a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Panelists said some Asian interest may be lacking, however, because of general misconceptions about greek life.
"I have a friend whose parents wouldn't let him [join a fraternity] because they said it was not representative of his culture," said senior Jay Ramesh, a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Junior Cristian Liu, a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon, added that before coming to Duke his conceptions of greek life stemmed from movies like "Old School" and "Animal House."
"There is always a barrier you have to push through and it has to do with comfort zones," said IFC President Ivan Mothershead, a senior.
The fraternities and sororities themselves, however, also play a role in the issue of Asian representation in greek life.
"You could also argue that most frats don't actively search out Asians," said senior Felix Li, a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. "They feel that Asian people just don't jive with their culture."
The panel also focused on issues associated with Asian students' decisions to rush.
"The demographic of a rush event can be very intimidating for a minority," Li said. "Being Asian definitely affects the IFC rush process."
Choi, however, said sorority rush provided a comfortable atmosphere.
"I never, ever felt discouraged or not welcome during Pan-Hellenic rush," she said.
Freshman Tim Liu said that despite the panelists' comments, he is still discouraged by the greek scene.
"You can already tell," he said. "When you go to a frat party, the person opening the door for you isn't Asian."
The panelists nonetheless encouraged Asian students to look into greek life and its potential benefits.
"Some of my most important leadership opportunities have been through greek life," Li said. "If we are planning on developing [Asian] leaders, we need to allow ourselves mechanisms for that."
Lee explained that greek organizations are putting forth an effort to dispel misconceptions minority students may have about greek life.
"It's what they think, and we are doing our best to show them that it isn't true but in the end it's up to them," he said.