Column: Hatchet, GW fail to improve understanding of diversity

As a black woman and member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, I found The Hatchet article (“Greek policies split groups”) on Feb. 14 to be an outrage. I believe the article was a true offense to the black Greek-letter organizations, and all black students here. The article seriously lacked significant content and offered absolutely no justice in capturing the essence of both black and white Greek-letter organizations.

The comments made by Sigma Nu Philanthropy and Academic Chair Robert Hodge illustrate that racial undertones at GW are alive and well. Hodge is a pure example of blatant ignorance that many students here at the University live with. His comments are based solely on racial stereotypes and a deficiency in tact. He said, “I can’t see the girls with, like, credit cards interacting with girls who grew up in D.C.” In this final quote of the article, Hodge’s statements are characteristic of anything but philanthropy.

As a black student at GW, I cannot expect anything more from a member of a fraternity that flew the Confederate Flag my freshman year. Hodge boasts of Sigma Nu having their first black pledge. I cannot help but wonder if this pledge symbolizes an act of tokenism, or does Sigma Nu readily accept him as a brother? I find the latter hard to believe when a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, who is supposed to be his brother, makes such brash statements about black culture.

Our minority organizations were founded when race relations in this country were less than ideal. During this time, our organizations were among the strongest advocates for equal justice, not just for blacks. We fought for anti-lynching legislation, voting rights, adequate education, fair housing, equal employment opportunity and other equal applications of the law. We continue to fight for social justice in our communities. This is the legacy of black Greek-letter organizations.

It is a dismal reality that race relations today are still far less than ideal. It is utterly offensive the way The Hatchet chose to represent black culture, using Hodge’s comments to characterize black people as poor welfare cases that grow up in urban ghettos. Black culture cannot be captured in one sentence or paragraph.

It bothers me when I see some non-black students walking around listening to music black artists created and innovated, wearing the style of dress blacks created, using slang terms blacks popularized, wearing afros and cornrows and watching Black Entertainment Television. But they cannot sit down and take the time to have a conversation with me or any other black students.

Diversity at GW is close to being a joke. Diversity should come with understanding and respect. Until I can walk into a room and not be stereotyped as a loud raucous black woman with a poor economic disposition and a penchant for larceny, diversity’s ideals will remain on the backburner. You can place people of different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds together, but without respect and an open mind, you end up with a can of mixed nuts, not a unified campus.
-The writer, a junior majoring in sociology and human services, is social action chair of Delta Sigma Theta.

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