African-American Greek life talks recruitment

Brittney Prather

While there are various Greek life organizations Kent State students can get involved in, there are more people unaware of the black fraternities and sororities — which are also a part of the Greek community— than there should be.

The National Panhellenic Council houses predominately African-American fraternities and sororities. 

“We have the Panhellenic council, which is most of our traditional sororities, and then we have inter-fraternity councils, which is our traditional fraternities,” said Dasha Harris, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life. “Then we have the Integrated Greek Council, which is our culturally-based fraternities and sororities.”

“Our principles are manhood, scholarship, perseverance (and) uplift … (our) motto is friendship is essential to the soul,” said Bernard Branner Jr., a junior communication studies major and Omega Psi Phi, Inc. brother.

Recruitment is key for those in the Greek community to gain new members and essentially grow in numbers. But for African-American sororities and fraternities, there’s a little different recruitment style than the traditional one.

“Each fraternity and sorority has its own way for recruitment. For us, we want to do well for the community as well as for ourselves, so we sit back and observe. We fill out people who would do well for us as an organization ,as well as for themselves,” said Geovonte Craig, a junior physical education major and Iota Phi Theta, Fraternity Inc. brother. “We just sit back and wait and see if people will come to us and see how they feel, what their interest is, what they’re looking for.”

Conversely, Branner said their organization’s recruitment is based off of being visible in the community.

“Whenever we wear our letters, whenever we are out (hopping), that’s sort of like our recruitment,” he said. “If we do see someone we believe that would be beneficial to the fraternity, then we may seek that person.”

For sororities, or at least the PanHellenic council, they conduct a more formalized recruitment. Members sign up for recruitment under one specific program, and then the participate in different rounds. The council then uses a system that matches them to their certain sorority. Once they are granted a bid, they accept that bid, and then start their new member education within that sorority.

“With our African-American groups, it’s flipped. They go through their new member education part first, and then … are presented as members,” Harris said. “Then they are pretty much given their bid.That’s really the only difference.”

Each fraternity and sorority has its own criteria for becoming a member, and every chapter has an idea of what to look for when recruiting.

“We look for people who know how to run an organization because we are a service organization. So we do fundraising and community service. We also put on events,” Branner said. “We look for men of a higher standard who see themselves as great and want to be great and want to give back to the community.”

Often, there is the misconception that black fraternities and sororities are only for African Americans, but members felt otherwise.

“We are a black or African-American group, (but) we are open to all ethnicities and we don’t discriminate. There’s no need to discriminate, and that’s the problem with the world: discrimination,” Craig said. “If you feel like you are good enough to join, we are not going to hold you back because you are different. That is not us.”

Branner had similar thoughts in regards to his fraternity.

“They need to be interested in the fraternity. It’s not necessarily us going and recruiting those people of different ethnic groups,” Branner said. “It’s a hard situation because, being a predominantly black organization, people look at that. And it’s something that we pride ourselves on.”

In having these separate ethnic and religious based fraternities and sororities, however, a gap may form.

“Instead of making all of these separate fraternities and sororities, it could be more inclusive and bring the whole community together. But a pro would be that in making these separate fraternities and sororities, it brings the smaller community together,” he said. “You are bringing like-minded individuals together and people with the same morals and values and things of that nature. I think it’s necessary to have those different fraternities and sororities.”

Craig said sometimes he feels as though the university may not give minorities the whole leeway, as they give others. At the end of the day, he said, “we need to look in the mirror and ask, ‘what did we do for them to ignore us like that.’ “

“We need to take on the responsibility, but at the same time, we (have to) make a push and do more in order to get more responsibility,” he said.

Courtney Tate, a junior pre-dental health major, as well as Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. and IGC president, said she thinks people feel as though black fraternities and sororities are exclusive, when they’re actually not.

“We’re not the type of organizations to come out and recruit you. It’s more of like you come and find us because you have a certain interest that you have,” Tate said. “We’re more like (to have) you get involved with us prior to you joining .so you kind of learn about us that way before it actually happens.”

Craig said if his fraternity can’t generate a network for interested members, and they believe another fraternity can, then that person should join that fraternity and its network.

“I want everybody to be great and succeed,” Craig said. “I’m just excited for Greek life to be more than what it has been in the past three years I have been here.”

Brittney Prather is the Greek life reporter, contact her at [email protected]