To the Editor:
As representatives of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), we wanted to express how disappointed we are that students may have walked away from the “Divine Nine” lecture last Tuesday evening with the impression that NPHC organizations are racist. The Bucknellian article printed in the previous issue misrepresented the purpose of his lecture. The article entitled “Diversity speaker promotes black fraternities” drew a deceptive and primitive picture of NPHC organizations’ history, mission and goals.
Matt Tilford, a respectable student leader, (Common Ground facilitator, Memphis Civil Rights Alternative Spring Break Trip Leader and Black Student Union ally) initially submitted a more robust quote to the Bucknellian. His intended quote read as follows: “My impression of the reaction of many students was that the idea of Black Greek organizations is racist, and therefore undermined the notion of the lecture as a ‘diversity speech.’ While this is certainly an understandable sentiment, students should understand that the existence of historically black fraternities and sororities stems from a long history of discrimination. It’s tough trying to preserve some of that history while simultaneously progressing on racial equality. It is easy to say historically black fraternities and sororities should just join IFC and Panhel, rather than have their own separate governance organization. But wouldn’t that just be another form of racial discrimination, forcing black organizations to assimilate into organizations that have been built upon years of white cultural dominance? The only true path to equality would be to completely start over with new, thoroughly integrated organizations, which I don’t think anyone would advocate. While Ross’s talk may not have been very equitable in tone, it certainly still accomplished its goal of discussing diversity. We have diversity, but if equality is the goal, clearly there is still a long way to go.”
We are historically African American organizations, but do not limit membership to only African Americans. The stated purpose and mission of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) in 1930 was “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations,” as posted on the NPHC website (http://www.nphchq.org).
As current NPHC organizations on campus, we want to incorporate our programming and events in collaboration with Panhel and IFC to promote unity. We look forward to partnering with Greek organizations on campus as unification can benefit us all. Each Greek organization—whether part of NPHC, Panhel, or IFC—may have been founded on different principles, but we still share a common ground.
If any student attended the lecture and left with an unsettled impression of what the NPHC organizations stand for, the significance behind the foundation of them, or the purpose for these organizations on the University’s campus, please feel free to attend “Meet the Greeks” on Oct. 22, 2010 from 6-7 p.m. in Walls Lounge. Meet us in person, learn more about individual NPHC and National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) organizations and ask any unresolved questions you may have. Please recognize that the NPHC does not discriminate for membership or for any event. This event is free and open to the public and will be an opportunity to meet us and ask questions. We look forward to seeing you and appreciate the opportunity to share with The Bucknellian readers more about the NPHC.
Jennifer Gutierrez ’11
with assistance from NPHC students