Writing in the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Alfred Sherwood Romer, Agassiz Professor of Zoology and director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, strongly defended the action of Amherst College's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in admitting a Negro to their society in 1948.
The Amherst chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was disbanded in December 1948 by order of the fraternity's national organization after a short trial in Chicago for its refusal to depledge the Negro member. Reorganized as Phi Alpha Psi, the society returned to the Amherst campus with the Negro as a member and has retained the prestige of the entire college community for its decision.
Romer describes the course of the fraternity's relations with its national organization. Though the fraternity charter placed no restrictions on how an individual chapter was to select its members, the entire American fraternity structure rose to protest the Amherst chapter's action. Despite the bitterness of many other fraternities, despite the national Phi Kappa Psi's attempts to hush up the proceedings, the Amherst group persistently defended their right to choose a new member in their own manner.
The article criticizes the hyprocrisy of national fraternity officers who supposedly abide by "the fine moral and ethical precepts" of their organization's charters but who in practice firmly oppose admission of minority groups. Romer asks the question: "Should organizations continue that are in direct opposition to the ideals of our undergraduates and of our democracy?"