Zeta Phi Beta, a historically African-American sorority, held the second annual “Interracial Dating Discussion” Wednesday night on the third floor of the Marvin Center.
Carmen Strong, the program chairwoman for the sorority, said she believes interracial dating is an important subject for college students to address.
“I know in the African-American community, it seems to be an ongoing problem as far as people accepting it,” she said.
The sorority brought together a diverse panel made up of seven students and alumni of different races, genders and sexual orientations.
The lively discussion drew about 40 people, each defending their views on interracial dating between comments from the panel.
Megan Manfredonia, a sophomore in an interracial relationship, offered the audience her personal perspective.
“I can understand both sides, but I think it is important to respect others’ decisions,” she said. “A lot of people have given me grief (for dating an African American).”
“I think it has less to do with the color of my skin, but more with what I’m like inside,” said Jeanelle James, a junior. “I care what I think. I care what I feel. I care what he feels.”
Chanler Langham, a senior member of the panel, said he believes people choose to date within their race because it is easier.
“You don’t have to hear all the other things people are saying,” he said.
Much of the evening focused on whether a double standard exists between African-American women dating outside their race and African-American men doing the same.
“I don’t mind if a black woman dates outside her race, but it bothers me when a black man dates outside his race,” said Kay Turner, a junior from Zeta Phi Beta.
While many different views were represented, all in attendance seemed to agree that mutual understanding and communication are vital to addressing social issues like interracial dating.
“Discussions like this are key to understanding each other,” Zeta Phi Beta alumna Eliza Thompson said.
Sophomore and panel member Emmanuella Duplessy said the conversation is beneficial and said such discussions must continue to make change.
“This has been a long discussion, and we’ve had to deal with a lot of issues,” Duplessy said. “But we’ve just scratched the surface.”