Black Fraternities and Sororities


To the Editors of the Crimson:

In response to Jennifer Griffin's article entitled "Black Fraternities and Sororities: Maintaining an Identity or Being Separatist?", we, the members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, feel compelled to further enlighten your readers on the nature and aims of our organization. In particular, we strongly believe that Ms. Griffin's article acutely characterizes the misnomers which have accompanied us since the Fraternity's inception in 1911. Nevertheless, we think that her work will emerge a positive one for both the University and the Fraternity, for finally we are able to at least partially present our views and objectives. Thus, we applaud Ms. Griffin's article not so much for its factual accuracy as for its illumination of the many ill-founded perceptions which are so present. In light of our aim to correct some of these perceptions, the Theta Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated would like to set out the following assertions:

1. With respect to the predominance of Black members in our organization and others, we feel that low white membership is due not to discrimination on our part, but rather it is the product of a society in which minority organizations are not seen with the same prestige that is bestowed upon mainstream ones. Thus, many whites are aware of our organizations but feel no real desire to be a part of them. (It should be noted that our informationals are advertised and opened to all males in the collegiate community.) Further, it must also be recognized that "Black" Greek letter organizations were formed due to exclusion from white fraternities and sororities, thereby fostering some of the apparent polarization between the two coexistent groups. Our fraternity, however, has since overcome this historical indemnity and can now claim members of all ethnic groups.

2. Kappa Alpha Psi and many other predominantly Black Greeks do not belong to the MIT Interfraternal Council (IFC) because we feel that its heavy emphasis on issues of house behavior and alcohol policy are simply not applicable to our organizations, as we do not own houses or serve alcohol at our functions.

3. Contrary to IFC Vice-chairman Mr. Collins, we are duly recognized by both MIT and Tufts Universities and choose not to participate in the IFC. His statements concerning our alleged "hazing policy" are completely erroneous and blazingly reflective of the spurious notions which pervade the IFC and our campuses in general. Kappa Alpha Psi, like all members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, has a standing "antihazing policy," which has been part of fraternal law since 1957.

4. The strong presence of Black Greek organizations on particularly Harvard's campus has arguably increased the level of Black community awareness. Whether by our connection to the Black community or by our penetration into mainstream campus life, Black fraternities and sororities have played an integral part in addressing the needs of Blacks and other groups.

5. We strongly disagree with the opinion of Eden Williams that we segregate ourselves to the detriment of racial relations. Our mere decision to attend Harvard University over such traditionally Black institutions as Hampton, Fisk or Howard Universities demonstrates our knowledge of "reality" as she perceives it. Yet we must vehemently denounce the notion that the awareness of this "reality" must be translated into assimilation and loss of our culture. Rather, we argue that the maintenance of one's own culture is essential in an effort to respect and appreciate dissimilar ones. Ms. Williams and those who concur with her are obviously ignorant of the Greek affiliations of such civic luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mayor Thomas Bradley, Shirley Chisholm, Mr. John Jacobs, Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Dr. William Cosby, Andrew Young, and on and on.

Once again, the Theta Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi encourages constructive dialogue, be it through formal administrative channels or informal discussions with our members. We do so because it is the only means of allaying the myths and producing mutual respect and admiration within the Harvard-Radcliffe community. The Theta Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.