The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma has been closed, and some of its members have been suspended after a video surfaced in which fraternity members sang a heinous, racist chant.
This incident was hopefully an isolated one given its extremely offensive nature, but it brings up the exclusionary and often segregated culture of greek life across the United States. Academics who study race in fraternities say the organizations are susceptible to issues of race because of their homogenous roots.
“Although law prohibits race-based exclusion in college sororities and fraternities in the United States, racial segregation prevails,” wrote Matthew Hughey at Mississippi State University in an academic paper.
While the University of Minnesota’s greek system hasn’t had high-profile race issues in recent memory, its fraternities and sororities are inherently segregated.
Fall 2014 statistics from the University’s Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life said 86 percent of the school’s greeks were white. Most minorities wanting to participate in greek life on campus likely opted to join groups in the Multicultural Greek Council.
There are many historically black fraternities around the U.S. But the others might as well be called “historically white.” This antiquated system of largely separating greeks based on their skin color should end.
As the University continues expanding its campus greek life, it would do well to end this rather blatant segregation.