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Race and Racism in Fraternity and Sorority Life: A Historical Overview: Race and Racism in Fraternity and Sorority Life



This chapter briefly explores the history of race and racism in fraternity/sorority (F&S) life through the themes of exclusion, racial uplift, and cultural relevance.
1This chapter briey explores the history of race and racism in
fraternity/sorority (F&S) life through the themes of exclusion,
racial uplift, and cultural relevance.
Race and Racism in Fraternity and Sorority
Life: A Historical Overview
Kathleen E. Gillon, Cameron C. Beatty, Cristobal Salinas Jr.
In order to understand the complexities of race, ethnicity, and culture in
present-day collegiate fraternity and sorority (F&S) life, it is imperative to
engage with the histories of this social establishment. In this chapter, rather
than provide a strict chronological overview of the history of F&S in the
United States, we provide an analysis of three themes that are integral to
understanding the creation and continuance of collegiate F&S life in re-
lation to race and racism. Those themes include: access/exclusion within
broader higher education, racial uplift, and cultural relevance/validation.
Access to and Exclusion Within Higher Education
The formation of Greek-letter organizations in the United States is most of-
ten traced back to the creation of Phi Beta Kappa in 1776 at the College
of William and Mary (Hughey, 2009). While this organization was liter-
ary in nature, it had many of the characteristics we see in present-day so-
cial F&S—for example, the use of Greek letters, motto, rituals, and ofcers
(Hughey, 2009). During the nineteenth century, Greek-letter social organi-
zations, which were organized and separated by normative notions of the
gender binary, began to emerge and expand on college campuses. Member-
ship in these organizations reected the broader collegiate student popu-
lation of the time. Regulated by both formal and informal racist practices
and policies that allowed for broader access to higher education for White
students (Hughey, 2009), these college-going practices resulted in the cre-
ation and expansion of organizations referred to in this chapter as histori-
cally White fraternities and sororities (HWFS). It is important to note that
White students during this time period were dened not only as racially
White but also as Anglo-Saxon in ethnicity, and protestant in religion.
While HWFS were growing and expanding, the participation of Stu-
dents of Color in higher education continued to be regulated by racist laws
NEW DIRECTIONS FOR STUDENT SERVICES, no. 165, Spring 2019 ©2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/ss.20289 9
that excluded them from attending college or segregated them into spe-
cic colleges and universities. Some Black students had found educational
homes at private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and
the more recently created public HBCUs, often referred to as the 1890s
schools. Additionally, some Students of Color—Black, Latinx, Native Amer-
ican, Asian—although small in number, were attending historically White
institutions (HWIs).
For those students, access did not translate to full opportunities to
participate in university life at HWIs. Rather, access was often intertwined
with exclusion for Students of Color. By the turn of the twentieth century,
this exclusion had manifested in specic ways on college campuses includ-
ing denial of residential housing, use of recreational spaces, and at institu-
tions where Greek-letter organizations were present, exclusion from F&S
life (Rogers, 2012). These restrictive policies created conditions in which
Students of Color were “socially homeless, invisible to the majority, with no
virtual or physical dwelling” (Rogers, 2012, p. 20). Racist policies such as
these took a toll on Students of Color and provided an impetus for creating
new social organizations specically for Students of Color.
The creation of many Asian American F&S reects this narrative. The
rst Asian American fraternity, Rho-Psi, was established in 1916 at Cornell
University by a group of Chinese American men (Chen, 2009). Ten years
later, Pi Alpha Phi fraternity was established at the University of California–
Berkeley. The members of Pi Alpha Phi were all friends who came together
to create their organization in response to the prevalent racism that they
faced on campus. In addition to experiencing housing discrimination, these
students were also ostracized in their academic disciplines. They majored
primarily in science and engineering elds, which at the time, and arguably
still today, were/are dominated by White men.
Between 1916 and 1970, eleven Asian American F&S organizations
were established, many of which were local ones located on the west
coast where substantial populations of Asian Americans were living due to
(im)migration patterns. Two of those organizations were Japanese Amer-
ican sororities—Chi Alpha Delta founded in 1928 at the University of
California–Los Angeles (UCLA) and Sigma Omicron Phi founded in 1930 at
San Francisco State Teachers’ College. While these organizations provided
some protection against racism at an individual level, they were greatly af-
fected by racism at an institutional level. Chi Alpha Delta unsuccessfully
tried to secure a house on sorority row at UCLA for almost three decades.
In 1938, they were given the opportunity to purchase the UCLA Religious
Conference Building which was owned by the Janss Investment Company.
An owner of the company refused to sell to the sorority, stating that he
would not sell to “Orientals.” By the time laws were lifted that had re-
stricted People of Color from owning property (also known as restrictive
covenants), housing prices were so high that the sorority could not afford
to purchase any housing in the area (Chen, 2009).
At the same time that colleges and universities were excluding Stu-
dents of Color from broad participation in campus life, the HWFS that
were founded during the nineteenth century were enacting similar exclu-
sionary practices. Although there is little evidence to suggest that Students
of Color wanted to join these early HWFS, many of these organizations
ensured that it would be impossible to do so by creating policies referred
to as “white clauses.” These racially exclusive policies were often incorpo-
rated into the formal constitutions of HWFS, essentially stating that only
students who were White would be considered for membership. Further-
more, White as a racial category was often linked to Christianity as a way
to refuse membership to Jewish students (Hughey, 2009). For more de-
tailed information about white clauses, we refer you to Chapter 2 of this
Racial Uplift
Historically, African Americans’ (which we use interchangeably with Blacks
in this chapter in reference to race) aspirations to nd activities in higher
education to empower, uplift, and support them while receiving an educa-
tion motivated them to create organizations for themselves. This is obvious
in the start, rise, and longevity of historically Black Greek Letter Organi-
zations (BGLOs) in response to reconstruction and during the time of Jim
Crow America. As noted, African Americans were not welcomed to join
any of the HWFS, and many university administrators would not allow
African Americans to form their own organizations at HWIs (Clark, 1970).
African Americans were concerned not only about being socially accepted,
but about fellowship for the sake of protection and promotion of ideals, in
spite of white supremacy, in order to uplift Black Americans (Kimbrough,
2003). The rst two BGLOs, founded in 1906 and 1908, were partly mir-
rored to White F&S (Wesley, 1961). However, unlike the socially focused
HWFS, the mission of BGLOs included a principle of service to the com-
munity (Kimbrough, 2003).
BGLOs were formed in America at a time when racial segregation and
White supremacy were a way of life. The 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of
Plessy v. Ferguson constitutionally upheld racial segregation in public places
(specically railroads) and legalized the doctrine of “separate but equal”
(Fireside, 2004). This separate but equal doctrine meant that society must
be racially segregated, but allegedly ensure equal opportunities to all races
(Fireside, 2004). This doctrine was evident on the campuses where the rst
two BGLOs, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity,
were founded. At Cornell University and Indiana University, both HWIs,
the same racial tension and segregation that dominated the country also
supported the education structure of these institutions where Students of
Color found themselves restricted from fully participating in campus and
academic life.
Eventually, African Americans developed strategies, philosophies, and
organizations out of response to their need for racial uplift and access to
higher education. One example of the response to the need for strategizing
for racial uplift was “The Niagara Movement” of 1905. This event, led by
W. E. B. DuBois and W. M. Trotter at Niagara Falls across the Canadian bor-
der, was the precursor to the establishment of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Notably, DuBois went on to
become a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The purpose of the
meeting was to discuss African Americans’ dissatisfaction with their place
in society, as well as with the policies of accommodation and conciliation
promoted by African American leaders, such as Booker T. Washington (Ru-
bicon, 2006). African American students attending Cornell University were
highly engaged with the Niagara Movement and the call for advancement
of People of Color in America.
Cornell University was one of the few universities in the north at the
time that allowed Black students to attend. According to the Public Broad-
casting Service (PBS) documentary Alpha Phi Alpha Men: A Century of Lead-
ership, Cornell University was seen as a liberal university where many Black
scholars from the south traveled to receive a higher education (Rubicon,
2006). In the early 1900s, a strong Black neighborhood had been formed
in Ithaca, New York, where Cornell University is located. Historians sus-
pect that this neighborhood was formed because it was a stop on the Un-
derground Railroad (Rubicon, 2006). Black students found lodging and a
support network in the Ithaca Black community because they were not
permitted to live in campus residence halls (Rubicon, 2006). Many of the
Black students found jobs at the university as cooks, janitors, and tutoring
other Black students. They were not allowed to participate in co-curricular
programs or activities. One founder of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Henry
Arthur Callis, found work at a White fraternity house waiting tables
(Wesley, 1961).
Callis, and the other founders of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, did not
have the social support of the university outside of the classroom (or in the
classroom for that matter). Black students could not participate in sports,
debate teams, student government, or fraternities. In 1905, the Black male
students at Cornell University formed a social study club in response to the
prejudice they experienced and in order to support and retain one another
(Wesley, 1961). Over the next year, this social study club evolved into a
fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, with rituals and initiation similar to White fra-
ternities. It is posited that the similarities in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
and White fraternities are because some of the founders witnessed these
fraternity rituals when working at White fraternity houses (Wesley, 1961).
This brotherhood, for the sake of security and encouragement of principles
that could help Black students get ahead as a race, was now the foundation
for the fraternity. The fraternity became a response to their lack of social
capital, and for Black male students on the campus of Cornell University
their own form of social capital.
Dr. Walter Kimbrough (2003) pointed out in his book, Black Greek 101,
that similar activities were going on at the campus of Indiana University in
Bloomington, Indiana. By the year 1870, Indiana University had established
four fraternities on campus (Kimbrough, 2003, p. 22). At the same time,
residents in Bloomington started to acknowledge the presence of African
Americans in the Bloomington community, although not always in positive
ways (Clark, 1970). For example,
In 1867 the Editor of the Student newspaper wrote about an encounter with a
Black man who walked by him without speaking after the editor greeted him
by the name of “Sambo.” The editor was incensed by being ignored and wrote
that he was “in favor of the nigger” in his right place. (Kimbrough, 2003,
p. 23)
The student newspaper also reported that the Ku Klux Klan was establish-
ing a dangerous presence within the university by 1872. Even though there
was a hostile climate, Indiana University records show that three black stu-
dents entered the university in 1890. By 1903, Kimbrough (2003) cited that
the Black Greek society of Alpha Kappa Nu was formed, eventually becom-
ing Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1911. Clark (1970) noted that the change
in the fraternity name was due to comments made by White Indiana under-
graduates who used a derogatory racial epithet when saying the name of
the organization. These organizations and the foundation of their princi-
ples grew out of the response to white supremacy during the Jim Crow era
of American history.
It is important to note that while Black men were organizing for racial
uplift at HWIs, Black women were also organizing in response to racism and
sexism at HBCUs. Racial issues faced by Black men at Cornell and Indiana
University were parallel to the patriarchal issues faced by Black women at
HBCUs such as Howard University. By 1910, Howard had only graduated
twenty-three women. Women’s lives were heavily controlled by the univer-
sity. Mail was interceded by a matron, women could not venture off campus
without a chaperone, and expulsions, which were common practice, were
often in response to women engaging in activities deemed inappropriate by
the university such as drinking, smoking, and entertaining the opposite sex
in an unapproved manner (Rogers, 2012). Paula Giddings (1988) wrote, “it
was no accident that the rst Black fraternity was established at a PWI and
the rst Black sorority at a coed HBCU” (p. 29). In fact, the rst three Black
sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta, were
all established at Howard University as they searched for both racial and
gendered uplift.
The same concepts that legalized racial segregation in America, and the
power structure that caused BGLOs’ founders to form these organizations,
still are in place today. The recurring themes of self-segregation, exclusion,
and being the “other” within fraternity and sorority organizations are still
relevant to BGLOs at HWIs. Many Black F&S members continue to share
that their organizations provide a place of protection from racism on cam-
pus and a means of uplifting the African American community (Brown,
Parks, & Phillips, 2005; Chambers & Walpole, 2017; Johnson, Chambers,
& Walpole, 2012; Kimbrough, 2009).
Cultural Relevance
In addition to racial uplift, multicultural F&S organizations emerged in
efforts to create a sense of validation and cultural relevance in light of
the oppression and marginalization they experienced in higher education.
When Students of Color were prohibited from engaging in a full campus
experience and/or joining HWFS, they were being invalidated, “treated as
empty receptacles and/or incapable of learning ...expected to disconnect
with the past ...and are oppressed, silenced and cast in subordinate roles”
on, 1994, p. 48). As racially diverse student populations (African
American/Black, Latinx, Asian American, Native American) started to en-
roll and experience isolation in colleges and universities, they learned to
negotiate a racist campus culture and climate through the support of their
multicultural F&S. These students created groundbreaking history in the
fraternal movement, as they formed fraternal organizations—fostering and
validating learning communities of peers.
As a new wave of immigrants were entering colleges and universities
in the 1980s and 1990s (Rend´
on, 1994), more multicultural F&S organiza-
tions started to appear in colleges and universities (National Multicultural
Greek Council, 2009). Students continued to be interested in joining orga-
nizations that were culturally relevant. Oxendine, Oxendine, and Minthorn
(2013) explained that this was also true for Native American students.
Before historically Native American F&S were created in the mid-1990s,
Native American students’ only option was to join social organizations that
may have been inclusive but were not culturally relevant. The notion of
cultural relevance is central to the creation and sustenance of these F&S
and marked a revolutionarily and “auspicious beginning” for fraternities
and sororities (Mu ˜
noz & Guardia, 2009, p. 2009). The forerunner of multi-
cultural fraternity and sorority organizations was the National Pan-Hellenic
Council (NPHC), formed in 1930 by historically Black F&S. Decades later,
in 1998, the National Association of Latinx-based Fraternal Organizations
(NALFO) and the National Multicultural Greek Council (NMGC) were
created. Last, in 2004, the National Asian Pacic Islander American Pan-
hellenic Association (NAPA) was established (Barber, Espino, & Bureau,
2015). The creation of these councils is signicant in that it shows the
growth and importance of racial/ethnic/multicultural organizations within
college F&S life. Since the rst multicultural F&S organizations and
councils were founded, “Their development offers a tremendous catalyst
for Latino and Latina [as well as African American/Black, Asian American,
and Native American] student[s’] success and cultural awareness” (Mu ˜
& Guardia, 2009, p. 2009), and it transformed these students into “pow-
erful learners . . . who became involved in the social and academic fabric of
the institution” (Rend ´
on, 1994, p. 29).
on’s research has shown that students seek to be validated inside
and outside the classroom (Rend´
noz, 2011). Often times, students
get invalidated in their learning environment, and they pursue validation
through their family members, peers attending college and not attending
college, signicant others, tutors, teaching assistants, and resident advisors
on, 1994). Within this context, we understand Students of Color, who
were often prohibited from joining White F&S, to have formed and created
their own fraternal organizations as a strategy of reproducing validation.
In order to foster a validating learning community for Students of Color,
on (1994) suggested that colleges “promote pride in cultural, gender,
and sexual orientation through college sponsored activities and organiza-
tions” and that “cultural pride is recognized and fostered in-and out-of-
class” (p. 50). These organizations served as a vehicle for Students of Color
to be validated in a culturally relevant manner.
As illustrated in this brief chapter, the themes of exclusion, racial uplift,
and cultural relevance/validation are woven throughout the histories of col-
legiate fraternities and sororities. We hope that this chapter has served as
either a reminder or perhaps new information regarding the histories of
race, ethnicity, and culture in F&S life. Going forward, we ask readers to
consider, how are you engaging critically with histories of F&S life? Whose
histories do you know? Whose histories do you need to learn more about?
Which histories are privileged in the telling of F&S life, and how might
you challenge this practice? Last, how are you working with F&S organiza-
tions, especially racially and ethnically minoritized organizations, to docu-
ment the histories of their organizations? As critical educators, we must be
mindful to not only be critical consumers of history but also critical pro-
ducers, keepers, and documenters of history.
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Brown, T., Parks, G., & Phillips, C. (Eds.). (2005). African American Fraternities and
Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Chambers, C., & Walpole, M. (2017). Academic Achievement among Black
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KATHLEEN E. GILLON is assistant professor in higher education at the University
of Maine. She is a member of Alpha Xi Delta Fraternity.
CAMERON C. BEATTY is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and is an
assistant professor in the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Department
at Florida State University.
CRISTOBAL SALINAS JR. is assistant professor in educational leadership and re-
search methodology at Florida Atlantic University. He is a member of Sigma
Lambda Beta International Fraternity.
... Racism has been interwoven in implicit and explicit ways within historically white sorority and fraternity life (SFL) communities since their inception (Garcia & Shirley, 2019;Gillon et al., 2019). For instance, overtly racist incidents such as racist-themed parties and being in blackface (Osborne, 2019;Sheeler, 2018), use of discriminatory language (NBC 10 News, 2020), and targeting of Students of Color (Pietsch, 2020) are historical and contemporary realities of historically white sororities and fraternities. ...
... Founders of historically white sororities and fraternities created them with exclusionary expectations across gender, race, and religion (Garcia & Duran, 2021;Gillon et al., 2019), including through explicit exclusionary clauses in early membership documents (Barone, 2014). Though organizations have articulated desires to diversify membership over time, historically white sororities in the National Panhellenic Council (NPC) and historically white fraternities in the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) have maintained a predominantly white membership (Gillon et al., 2019). ...
... Founders of historically white sororities and fraternities created them with exclusionary expectations across gender, race, and religion (Garcia & Duran, 2021;Gillon et al., 2019), including through explicit exclusionary clauses in early membership documents (Barone, 2014). Though organizations have articulated desires to diversify membership over time, historically white sororities in the National Panhellenic Council (NPC) and historically white fraternities in the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) have maintained a predominantly white membership (Gillon et al., 2019). Park's (2008) study on the experiences and perspectives of Asian American women in relation to SFL provides some insight to this continued pattern. ...
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... preventing access to those who did not hold privileged identities (e.g., white, Protestant; Hughey, 2009). Within fraternal organizations, these philosophies took the form of clauses prohibiting people of color into their groups, as well as other minoritized communities (e.g., Jewish individuals; Barone, 2014;Gillon et al., 2019). These legacies of oppression inevitably led to the creation of organizations specifically for marginalized populations, as well as advocacy within historically white fraternities to be more inclusive in membership practices. ...
... These legacies of oppression inevitably led to the creation of organizations specifically for marginalized populations, as well as advocacy within historically white fraternities to be more inclusive in membership practices. Although fraternities eventually removed the white clauses that were previously included in their constitutions (Gillon et al., 2019), effectively opening the opportunity for people of color to join, contemporary scholars still question how embedded whiteness and racism are within these organizations (Barone, 2014). ...
... Focusing first on the political and social involvement, we see this as evidence that students and campus ecologies that promote the frequent, productive exchange of ideas can reinforce students' abilities to engage in discourse across forms of diversity (e.g., racial/ethnic, sexuality, ideological, cultural). From a critical lens, these interactions are particularly notable for historically white fraternities that have largely perpetuated exclusionary environments both in historical and contemporary times (Garcia & Shirley, 2019;Gillon et al., 2019), realities that we have seen higher education practitioners and members try to change. ...
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... Almost 12% of undergraduates participate in Greek Life, yet fraternities and sororities were largely ignored as part of the campus food system. Inequities based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion have been structurally built into national Greek organizations since the first fraternity was founded over 250 years ago, and are the topic of much academic literature on JEDI and student experience in higher education (e.g., Hughey, 2010;Jozkowski and Wiersma-Mosley, 2017;Gillon et al., 2019). Exclusion of non-whites and non-Protestants was legally sanctioned in Greek Life until the 1960's, and students of color still face formidable barriers to belonging in historically white organizations. ...
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Universities and colleges are fertile foodscapes for action-based education. They are physical and socio-cultural sites where pressing food systems problems play out at micro to macro scales. Structural inequities based on race, class, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, dis/ability, and other forms of marginalization affect both access to food and to agri-food learning opportunities. In this article, we propose that students can learn through their everyday experiences of engaging with their physical and socio-cultural environment, namely the campus food system, by conducting foodscape mapping. Since 2015, the University of California Berkeley Food Institute has supported the Foodscape Mapping Project, in which students, staff, and faculty generate food systems knowledge while developing practical interventions to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). We investigate how campus foodscape mapping might generate substantive learning about JEDI in food systems education; the kinds of learning that take place through foodscape mapping; and the educational practices and institutional structures that can support learning through foodscape mapping. We identify at least eight forms and processes of expansive learning that emerged through mapping work, using students' own insights into what they were learning. Finally, we reflect on our learning experiences in running the project, and develop broader design elements that other campuses can apply.
... First, the current sample was predominately Caucasian and therefore representative of most Greek organizations (Gillon et al., 2019); however, future studies should examine whether the current findings would be replicated in a more diverse sample of Greek-affiliated students. Second, females comprised the majority of the current sample. ...
Background College students affiliated with fraternity and sorority, or “Greek” life represent a known high-risk group for alcohol consumption and related consequences, but little is known about demand for alcohol in this population. The current study examined behavioral economic demand for alcohol in a sample of Greek life-affiliated undergraduate students using the alcohol purchase task (APT) and a novel variation of the APT that included a fixed-price, nonalcoholic alternative (APT Choice). Methods Participants (n = 229) completed the APT, APT Choice, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ). Group demand indices were calculated for the entire sample and then separately for participants who met or did not meet the legal drinking age (21+ or underage, respectively). Independent-sample t tests assessed whether there were any significant differences between the two age cohorts in the percent change in each behavioral economic index from the APT to APT Choice. Tests of correlation evaluated the construct validity of the demand indices from both hypothetical purchase tasks. Results Descriptive statistics on alcohol use in this Greek-affiliated sample revealed “hazardous” drinking scores, with AUDIT-C scores exceeding the threshold of alcohol misuse. These measures were significantly correlated with demand indices from both APT conditions, and demand was inversely related to price; however, demand for alcohol was reduced when a nonalcoholic alternative was available. Both age cohorts reported a reduction in BP1 (highest price of nonzero consumption) and an increase in α (rate of change in elasticity), but these changes were significantly greater among underage participants. Conclusions Although Greek life-affiliated students demonstrate high demand for alcohol, the concurrent availability of a nonalcoholic alternative reduces alcohol demand, particularly for underage students. These findings suggest that nonalcoholic options may enhance the effectiveness of increasing alcohol prices to reduce alcohol consumption among students at higher risk for alcohol use.
... The reason provided involved the belief that brotherhood could only be established with those who were alike (e.g., along racial lines). Within predominantly white institutions (PWIs), culturally-based sororities and fraternities were established to center and uplift Communities of Color as a response to these exclusionary practices (Torbenson, 2009(Torbenson, , 2012, in addition to the hostile climates students faced (Gillon et al., 2019;Ross, 2000). Relevant to this project is the "similarity rationale" used by organizations to discriminate against those who identified with other races. ...
Centering the stories of Queer People of Color, this critical narrative inquiry project examined the dynamics around gender and sexuality in Latinx/a/o-based fraternities. In particular, the narratives of two Queer Women of Color and a queer non-binary individual revealed how these participants decided to join their organization and what their experiences were like once they were affiliated. Through two semi-structured interviews and a reflection journaling project, participants shared how they often encountered moments of exclusion despite occasionally feeling a sense of inclusion in their chapters/organizations. Implications for research and practice are then offered.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education that have established cultural norms reflective of a predominantly Black student body. Throughout history, HBCU leaders have preserved the HBCU experience through culturally responsive leadership. Culturally responsive leadership practices at HBCUs include faculty-student relationships, a student-centered campus culture, and racial uplift. This chapter will take the reader through higher education leadership theory, a brief history of HBCU leadership, the modern-day significance of HBCUs, and how culturally responsive leadership preserves the HBCU experience. The aim of this chapter is to highlight culturally responsive leadership practices in HBCUs that may be adapted in a multitude of education settings to further academic and social equity and justice across all higher education institutions in the United States.
Background Black women students in engineering higher education are underrepresented and often face barriers at the nexus of race, gender, and engineering. When seeking to improve student outcomes, universities often prioritize academic success and neglect psychological, social, and emotional well‐being. Little is known about why and how Black women in engineering engage in Black placemaking as they maneuver around barriers. Purpose The purpose of this study is to establish an empirical understanding of the experiences of Black women in engineering. Our work is guided by the following research questions: (1) Why do Black women in engineering seek out campus spaces specifically designated for them? What unique structural issues necessitate such spaces? (2) For what purposes do Black women in engineering use those distinct spaces? (3) How are Black women in engineering responding to the challenges and structural conditions? Design/Method We use Black placemaking theory to guide our qualitative in‐depth interviews of 45 purposefully selected students. The data were analyzed via theory‐informed themes. Results Major structural conditions necessitate specific Black spaces, including the absence of physical places, failure to understand intersectionality, failure to respond to safety, and cultural stereotypes about Black women in engineering. In response to such barriers, Black women in engineering engage in multiple placemaking activities, thereby seeking out safe and responsive spaces and transforming existing ones to serve multiple functions. Conclusions Whatever difficulties Black women face in academia, they are intensified in engineering. To confront such barriers, Black women engage with Black placemaking, creatively transforming existing places or co‐creating distinct places for themselves. These actions can inform how engineering departments support spaces for minoritized student development.
On American college campuses, numerous students have died as a result of hazing activities perpetrated in fraternities, sororities, and other student groups. Still, little is known about the common characteristics among these hazing deaths. This study aims to investigate the circumstances surrounding these fatal incidents by examining hazing deaths that occurred at institutions of higher education in the United States from 1994 to 2019. This analysis revealed common characteristics related to the victims, organizations, institutions, incidents, and outcomes of these deaths. The findings support past hazing research, as victims were predominantly males pledging social fraternities. Although hazing deaths were widespread, there was variation among institutional characteristics, region, and size. The perpetrators of these incidents faced legal ramifications, including criminal convictions and civil lawsuits. The recognition of these trends can improve our understanding of the conditions present when dangerous hazing activities occur and the best practices for prevention and response.
Claudius likes to party—a bit too much. He frequently binge drinks, is arguably an alcoholic, but is not an aberration. Hamlet says that Denmark is internationally known for heavy drinking. That’s what Shakespeare would have heard in the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth, English writers feared that Denmark had taught their own nation its drinking habits. Synthesizing criticism on alcoholism as an individual problem in Shakespeare’s texts and times with scholarship on national drinking habits in the early modern age, this essay asks what the tragedy of alcoholism looks like when located not on the level of the individual but on the level of a culture, as Shakespeare depicts in Hamlet. Our window into these early modern cultures of drunkenness is sociological studies of American college fraternities plus social-learning theories that explain how one person—one culture—teaches another its habits. For Claudius’s alcoholism is both culturally learned and culturally significant. And, as in fraternities, alcoholism in Hamlet is bound up with ethnicity, wealth, masculinity, and tragedy. Thus alcohol imagistically reappears in key moments of Hamlet—the vial of “cursed hebona,” Ophelia’s liquid death, and the poisoned cup in the final scene—that stand out in recent performances and adaptations with alcoholic Claudiuses and Gertrudes.
This research project answers two main questions: How do women of color become empowered in a white predominantly institution? What is the best way to acquire this information beyond the academy? As a woman of color and international student, answering these questions were important to me when I began my studies here at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The Rise of the Goddess focuses on the experience of young women of color in multicultural organizations and argues for the documentary as a means for accessing this information. The Rise of the Goddess demonstrates that multicultural sororities empower women of color in predominantly white institutions by various factors like the creation of community and understanding of womanhood through sorority membership. In addition, this Honors Thesis proves that the best way to represent the importance of these organizations is the production of a documentary that, unlike narrative film, allows for creative intimacy for storytelling between the filmmaker and the young women of color in higher education interviewed for the film.
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With over 60 collective years of serving the fraternal movement as fraternity/sorority members, chapter advisors, fraternity/sorority life advisors, and (inter)national fraternal leaders, we approached writing about the experiences of college students who participate in fraternities and sororities from an affirming and positive perspective. We believe these distinctive and intergenerational organizations can provide a forum for college students to create meaningful, well-rounded, and learning-oriented experiences. Deep and long-standing challenges continue to exist, but the juxtaposition of the best and worst actions of today's college students make fraternities and sororities among the most complex organizations on college campuses. In addition, there is a high level of interaction between and among students, the campus community, administrators, faculty, alumni, and external stakeholders such as parents and (inter)national fraternity/sorority headquarters. Such dynamic experiences can create shared and distinctive realities for students that are integral to student development. This chapter provides insight into the historical and modern-day complexities that affect students' experiences in fraternities and sororities and offers a framework for working with this population across contexts.
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Laura I. Rendón (1994) introduced validation theory with particular applicability to low- income, first-generation students enrolled in higher education. Validation theory was offered as a new way to theorize how these students might find success in college, especially those who found it difficult to get involved, had been invalidated in the past, or had doubts about their ability to succeed. This article gives special attention to: 1) how the theory was developed, including the theoretical foundations of the theory; 2) how the theory has been employed as the foundation to frame studies, discuss student success, improve pedagogy, foster student development, and frame institutional strategies; 3) which theoretical perspectives overlap with validation theory; 4) epistemological and ontological assumptions in validation theory; and 5) future directions that could enhance the theory, as well as advance the future research and practice of validation.
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This paper outlines the Black Campus Movement, beginning in 1965 and ended in 1972, in which hundreds of thousands of black students, aided on some campuses by white and Latino students, requested, demanded, and protested for a relevant learning experience. At historically white and black colleges and universities, black campus activists formed the nation’s first politically and culturally progressive black student unions (BSUs) with varying names and gained control of some student government associations (SGAs). They utilized these pressure groups to advocate for a range of campus reforms, including an end to campus paternalism and racism, and the addition of more black students, faculty, and administrators, the reformation and upgrading of “Negro” universities into “Black” universities, and the introduction of Black Cultural Centers and Black Studies courses, programs, and departments. In sum, this paper argues, these black campus activists and their allies forced the academy to rewrite the racial constitution of higher education, which for more than a century had been based on four doctrines: the standardization of exclusion, the normalized mask of whiteness, the moralized contraption, and ladder altruism.
The author reviews the history of pledging and the recent movements for reform of this practice among historically Black fraternities and sororities. He describes the membership intake process that has been adopted and its resultant problems, and suggests that the national leadership should emphasize the founding ideals of the organizations as a means of overcoming resistance to change.
Conclusion This study demonstrated that nontraditional students, no matter how fragile, can be transformed into full members of the college academic and social community. The importance of this finding cannot be over stated, for it points to real hope for students who do not see themselves as “college material” or who feel that college life has little or nothing to do with the realities from which they come. What is needed to transform these students is for faculty, administrators, and counselors to fully engage in the validation of students and to recognize that not all students can be expected to learn or to get involved in institutional life in the same way. Diversity in nature is a strength. So is diversity among college students. The challenge is how to harness that strength, and how to unleash the creativity and exuberance for learning that is present in all students who feel free to learn, free to be who they are, and validated for what they know and believe.