Miami University’s Greek community has lower portions of minority and international students than the general undergraduate population, creating mixed experiences for minority students in Panhellenic Association (Panhellic) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
Greek life at Miami is governed by the Tri-Council, consisting of the Panhellenic, IFC and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).
Around 72 percent of all undergraduates at the Oxford campus are white, according to Miami’s enrollment statistics. However, white students made up about 89 percent of IFC and Panhellenic as of fall 2017, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
Domestic minority students make up 13.4 percent of Miami’s undergraduates, while they only made up 11.4 percent of the Tri-Council. Domestic minority students comprised 10.4 percent of IFC and 10.3 percent of Panhellenic. All 26 students in NPHC, which is much smaller than either IFC or Panhellenic, are African-American or multiracial.
International students, who make up almost 15 percent of the total undergraduate population, comprise just 0.5 percent of IFC and 0.4 percent of Panhellenic.
Mackenzie Solomon, NPHC president, said the council has plans to cooperate closely on events with IFC and Panhellenic for the fall. Forging a stronger relationship with the other two councils has been a focus for her presidency.
“In the past, we kind of just get invited to things that we don’t really feel pertain to us, or we don’t really feel like you actually wanted to include us,” Solomon said. “But now we’re definitely moving in a better direction of getting invited to plan things instead of just getting invited to attend.”
Solomon meets weekly with IFC President Stephen Golonka and Panhellenic President Emily Wolfzorn, as well as a monthly Tri-Council meeting with every chapter’s president.
Solomon said she has focused on making NPHC more visible on campus and in the community to showcase what the council has to offer.
“I think sometimes people just don’t realize there is another council on this campus besides IFC and Panhellenic,” Solomon said. “But, I think that once they understand who we are and how we function, I think that they’re very welcoming.”
Recently elected Student Body Vice President Vincent Smith said he wanted to encourage a closer relationship between NPHC and the other two councils to involve more people in their philanthropic activities, making a greater impact on the community. Smith and Student Body President Meaghan Murtagh also hope to implement diversity training for all Miami students.
Smith, who’s African-American, said he doesn’t feel he’s ever been treated differently in his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. Smith has served as vice president of academics and parent coordinator and for Delta Sigma Phi, and said he sees other minority students in leadership roles throughout Greek life.
“There is a small number of us, but the ones that are [Greek] do feel comfortable in the sororities and fraternities with their brothers and sisters overall, at least the people I know,” Smith said.
However, junior Lexi Sloan-Harper feels differently. While in Delta Delta Delta (Tri Delt), Sloan-Harper said members usually tried to make her feel welcome, but she experienced microaggressions as a student of color in a primarily white sorority.
One time, Sloan-Harper wasn’t allowed into a bar for a sorority social when all her white friends were. Sloan-Harper said there was no discernible reason she wasn’t allowed in except for the fact that she looked different.
“It just makes you feel not wanted,” Sloan-Harper said. “I obviously know why, but why did you have to single me out like that?”
Sloan-Harper dropped Tri Delt last semester because of the cost and wanted to focus more on her major. Initially, she felt lonely without her sorority since she didn’t have any events to go to. But eventually, Sloan-Harper realized it was the right decision for her since she was better able to focus on herself and her studies.
Last week, four members of Delta Zeta (DZ) were expelled from the sorority after a video circulated through social media of them repeatedly singing the N-word in the song “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown. DZ’s national organization released a statement condemning the video.
Colleen Blevins, associate director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said the Cliff Office will work with DZ on educational programming to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future. The office already expects chapters to create inclusive environments.
Wolfzorn said the incident was not reflective of the values of the Panhellenic and the Greek community as a whole.
“We strive to empower and support our members in all of their identities and to better our communities and campus,” Wolfzorn said.
Wolfzorn said Panhellenic plans to add a director of diversity to the executive board, provide resources for chapter leaders to facilitate conversations about diversity and update the Greek StepUp curriculum to address issues of intolerance and racism.
“I’m never surprised by racism, I’m just always disappointed,” Sloan-Harper said.