SIUE sees lack of historically Black and multicultural Greek life, some talk of return

SIUE reported their most diverse student body ever this semester, but in recent years three historically Black fraternities and one multicultural fraternity have left campus. SIUE is trying to bring them back, as well as invite new ones to campus. 

SIUE currently has seven unrecognized fraternities and sororities. Three are from the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which represents historically Black Greek organizations, and one is from the United Greek Council, which represents culturally-based Greek organizations. 

Alpha Phi Alpha is a historically Black fraternity that left campus in 2017 due to violating its national organization’s rules for membership intake, NPHC’s recruitment process, according to senior mass communications major Derric Roberts of Chicago. He was a member of the fraternity and said he felt the violations were due to the members trying to resolve issues on their own.

“A lot of the issues we were having, we tried to do them ourselves and get things done on our own because we didn’t feel comfortable going to certain people,” Roberts said. “Again, that’s just the naive undergrad, like, you want to do things your way. You want to find the answer your way, and sometimes your way is not always the best.”

SIUE is currently talking with the national organization about Alpha Phi Alpha returning to campus in the near future. 

Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Tyler Manning said he hopes the Kimmel Student Involvement Center will be able to provide better support to fraternities and sororities to prevent any code of conduct or intake violations from occurring.

“Hopefully, as we continue to return groups, we have better support in place so policy violations like that don’t happen,” Manning said. “We don’t want to see organizations leave campus, because we know our fraternities and sororities are providing a sense of belonging and a home for our students who join.”

Phi Beta Sigma, another historically Black fraternity, also left campus due to intake violations with its national organization. Associate history professor Bryan Jack was their faculty adviser and said he wasn’t informed by anyone about what happened to the fraternity. He said many student organizations have difficulty sustaining themselves due to various levels of involvement by frequently changing leadership.

“With all student organizations, as people graduate, different people take over and it’s sometimes hard to sustain student organizations when people graduate every year or two,” Jack said. “You may have a group of students who are very involved, then they graduate and maybe the group coming in behind them aren’t as involved.”

SIUE’s chapter of Alpha Psi Lambda, a co-ed Latino-interest fraternity, is currently suspended by the national organization until Fall 2021 due to violations related to their membership intake process. Manning said this doesn’t mean they will be back that semester due to the possible return of other fraternities and sororities.

“As we’re trying to bring back Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Psi Lambda, we can’t bring them all back at the same time. We talked through like, ‘Here’s our timeline for all the other groups that we have coming. Can we talk about maybe not fall 2021, maybe it’s spring 2022?’” Manning said. “We want to be intentional in the support that our staff provides to the new groups, and making sure that they’re all equally supported.”

The university is also looking to bring in Greek organizations to represent other student demographics. Manning said they are hoping to sign establishment agreements with Asian-interest fraternities and sororities.

“An organization that’s not been on our campus before, but they have a good reputation nationally, is Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, and they are an Asian-interest sorority. And then the other group we were specifically looking at was Pi Alpha Phi Fraternity Incorporated, which is an Asian-interest fraternity,” Manning said. “So, as SIUE becomes more diverse, we want to make sure that there are offerings for really all of our students to join a fraternity and sorority if they are interested.”

Students who are interested in joining an existing fraternity or sorority or starting a new chapter can contact Manning at tymanni@siue.edu or email greeklife@siue.edu.

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