Students of color discuss Greek life

by Daisy I. Alpert | 10/22/93 6:00am

Seven student panelists spoke last night about their experiences as people of color within and outside of the College's Greek System, at a panel discussion sponsored by the InterRacial InterEthnic Alliance.

Approximately 90 students packed Rockefeller 2 to listen to the discussion, which lasted nearly two hours.

Dean of Students Lee Pelton moderated the event, which attempted to tackle the issue of race relations both on campus and in society.

Danielle Moore '95 depledged her sorority at the end of summer term. She said she was unable to reconcile her cultural identity as a Native American with her membership in an organization that made her uncomfortable.

She said people at her house made insensitive comments about her heritage and "it was impossible to turn the other cheek," she said.

Hallie Kim '94, a Korean-American who is a member of Sigma Delta sorority, said she had not experienced the intolerance that Moore had.

"I have received nothing but encouragement and support from my sisters," she said.

Zola Mashiriki '94, the president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, said she joined her house because of its sisterhood and history. It was Delta Sigma Theta's commitment to community service that attracted her to the house.

Mashiriki said she made a conscious decision to join a historically black sorority.

"Delta's goals were the same as my personal goals," Mashiriki said. "We have white members as well, but this is not a problem because we all have the same goals."

The co-ed fraternities were represented by Mariann McKeever '95, the president of Tabard co-ed.

"Since Tabard has eliminated the problem of sexism, we are more willing to deal with other differences," she said.

Mark Harrison '94, who is not a member of a Greek house said he chose not to join a fraternity because he did not want to be limited or categorized.

"At Dartmouth, I feel I am just beginning to discover things about myself. I wouldn't want a fraternity to hinder that process," he said.

John Doyle '95, who is black and a member of Alpha Delta fraternity, and Joe Santos '95, who is Hispanic and the president of Chi Heorot fraternity, said they felt comfortable as persons of color in their fraternities.

Santos said he experienced less discrimination within his house than he does outside of it.

"Heorot doesn't provide a support network for me as a Latino, but neither does Dartmouth in general," he said. "I found my support within the Latin community."

Santos cited La Alianza Latina as one place where he found support as a minority on campus.

During the question and answer period that followed the discussion, students challenged Doyle's claim that he had experienced no racism as a member of AD.

Audience members pushed Doyle to recall a time he had heard a racist comment at his house. Doyle said the brothers were playing football in a hallway and one brother shouted. "I thought black people could run faster than that."

The audience also raised questions about the role of minorities in a predominantly white system.

Harrison, who is black, asked how minorities could reconcile their cultural identities with a system that "epitomizes the racism, classism and sexism in American society."

Student Assembly President Nicole Artzer '94 asked Harrison if he thought it was productive to focus on racism within the Greek system when it merely reflects the larger societal issue.

"Racism in the Greek system doesn't just reflect societal problems but in fact perpetuates it," Harrison replied.