Chapter closures and stagnant recruitment have riddled African-American greek life at the University of Minnesota in recent years.
In an attempt to reverse the downward trend, the University’s historically black fraternities are aiming to spread awareness about black chapters on campus and change stereotypes about greek life.
The seven chapters met Tuesday for the first official “Black Greek 101” in Coffman Union’s President’s Room. more than 40 students attended Tuesday’sevent, along with alumni and faculty members.
There are relatively few members of greek life at the University who are black — just 3 percent of all greeks, according to University data — and this is partly because of a lack of awareness among students, said Lamar Hylton, assistant vice provost for student life.
All greek organizations on campus are managed by four councils, one of which — the Multicultural Greek Council — oversees organizations that have a diversity focus.
Black greek organizations on campus fell under this council’s purview before the National Pan-Hellenic Council was rechartered at the University last year.
Now, the NPHC — which represents the “Divine Nine” African-American fraternities and sororities across the country —independently oversees the historically African-American greek life on campus.
The NPHC’s numerical presence on campus is low, totaling about 30 members.
NPHC chapters have different recruitment methods than other councils do. They don’t schedule specific dates to recruit, said Matt Levine, Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life program director. Also, none of the NPHC chapters have houses.
Levine said greek life advisors believe now is a good time for expansion of NPHC membership because Fraternity and Sorority Life has the resources and staff it needs to successfully manage a large greek community.
“We are more than what you see on University [Avenue Southeast],” Levine said.
Pre-law junior Abduljabar Jillo said his interest in black greek life stemmed from a desire for a place where he feels he fits.
Although the chapters under the auspices of the NPHC are traditionally African-American, chapter leaders stress that the NPHC stands for diversity and inclusivity as a whole.
Fata Acquoi, president of the University’s NPHC, said the council aims to be inclusive.
“The NPHC has a space and a place for everyone.” Hylton said.