Ferris Greeks embrace diversity

Members of Greek fraternity Pi Lambda Phi stand outside their house on Michigan Ave. Pi Lambda Phi, along with all other fraternities and sororities at Ferris, embrace the idea of diversity and accept members of all races and genders. Torch File Photo
Members of Greek fraternity Pi Lambda Phi stand outside their house on Michigan Ave. Pi Lambda Phi, along with all other fraternities and sororities at Ferris, embrace the idea of diversity and accept members of all races and genders.
Torch File Photo
Greek organizations across the country have gained national attention for reports of segregation in sororities and fraternities.

However, at Ferris State University, greek organizations are working to promote diversity.

In September, the University of Alabama’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, reported segregation still existing among The University’s sororities. An African- American girl who exceeded the criteria to join a sorority was turned down due to the color of her skin.

Race isn’t an issue in sororities and fraternities at Ferris, according to senior nursing major and member of Alpha Xi Delta Mia Orlandi.

Orlandi, who is white, said her sorority isn’t looking for the typical “blonde cookie cutter image” to join, they want girls with high GPAs and girls that want to “stay around long.”

“When people think of sororities they think of blonde skinny girls, but that’s not always the case,” Orlandi said. “Racially, we have Asians, whites, and African Americans. I feel like we’re all so different and we all come from different areas, so when we come together, we all work so well together. That’s what makes us so diverse.”

As a whole, Ferris works to promote diversity.

As of 2013, Ferris has a total of 10,156 students on the Big Rapids main campus. Out of those students, there are 7,950 white, 684 black, 360 Hispanic or Latino and 1,736 fall under other categories of ethnicity.

The Assistant Director for the Office of Multicultural Student Services and Alpha Phi Alpha Advisor Michael Wade said the reason Black Greek Council and all-black sororities and fraternities were created is because multiracial sororities and fraternities were previously prohibited on college campuses.

Alpha Phi Alpha was the first all-black fraternity established in 1906 on the campus of Cornell University in New York. According to illinoisbgc.com the seven founders of the fraternity “wanted to organize a fraternity that would provide a mechanism to give mutual support among African American students on a predominately white and segregated campus.”

According to Wade, Black Greek Council is open for students of all backgrounds and ethnicities to join. There are no exclusive all-white sororities or fraternities at Ferris.

Vice President of Diversity Pilgrim said diversity is not just the color of your skin, your gender or your sexual orientation, but the range of human differences and potential in members of a campus community.

“I believe that diversity and inclusion are noble ideals,” Pilgrim said. “However, each social group must decide for itself if they will embrace these ideals.”

Ferris senior psychology major and member of Alpha Chi Rho Quillian Murphy, who is black, said embracing diversity was one of the few things he was looking for when checking out different fraternities to join.

“Who wants to be a part of a group where everyone is the same?” Murphy asked.

According to Murphy, Alpha Chi Rho has four landmarks to follow by.

Landmark number four states, “Judgment not by externals, but by intrinsic worth; no one is denied membership in Alpha Chi Rho because of race, creed or nationality.”

Alpha Chi Rho includes white, black, Hispanic and Brazilian members.

“We look at guys in our fraternity as humans first and more importantly a brother,” Murphy said. “The race is last. If you don’t accept them, you don’t accept me,” Murphy said.

Ferris junior marketing major and member of Pi Lambda

Phi AJ King, who is black, felt welcomed when he joined his fraternity.

“There isn’t really a majority or minority [in Pi Lambda Phi],” King said. “Everyone is pretty equaled out. But there are definitely some fraternities that are more diverse than others.”

Pilgrim encourages all RSOs on campus to reach out to students from all backgrounds.

“Make an intentional effort to recruit students who come from groups that have not historically been members of your RSO,” Pilgrim said. “And, when they do join, treat them with respect.”

However, some individuals would like to see quicker progress in matters of diversity.

Ferris senior forensic biology major and member of a traditional all-black Ferris sorority Delta Sigma Theta Gabrielle Jackson said her sorority usually doesn’t get invited to other sororities’ events.

“I feel it’s starting to get more diverse,” said Jackson, who is black. “But unity is at a stand-still.”

Recently, Delta Sigma Theta had their annual Stroll Off. A non-all-black fraternity Alpha Chi Rho was invited and attended the event.

Ferris junior operations and supply management major Mabel Acosta doesn’t see much diversity among sororities and fraternities on campus. Acosta said word of mouth and inclusion can promote diversity.