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KC Wednesday: When is enough, ENOUGH

by on February 27, 2013

This week’s KC Wednesday post was written by Michelle Van-Ess, Director of Student Life at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The post has been edited by Stacey O. Davis, Assistant Director of Residence Life; Metropolitan Campus at Fairleigh Dickinson University

I have been nervous about this blog post for weeks!  What should I write?  What is something that I am so passionate about that will also resonate with you all? After going through several ideas in my mind, my love for Greek Life (sororities and fraternities) stood out.  Now I just had to narrow down what I wanted my message to be.  Then, I was shown a video and I knew exactly what I needed to write about.

Through this blog post I hope to spread awareness about the violence that has been associated with sororities and fraternities.

I am a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and I have been for 15 years. I attended a middle-sized institution in New Jersey and despite the large commuter population, I felt right at home. As a freshman I quickly got involved in several organizations such as, The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Nubian Ladies. More often than not, I found myself being the only student of color in my class; it was great to go to a meeting and see folks that looked like me and could relate to my daily “issues” as a young first generation African woman.

Despite the great relationships I developed from these organizations, I wanted to do more, increase my network of friends and give back to community at large. That’s not to say the other organizations didn’t provide that, but I still felt empty.

Sometime in the spring, the University hosted a ‘Meet and Greek’ in the Student Union. I was elated, because deep down I always wanted to be part of a sisterhood, have a bond with women that would last a life- time, and of course wear cool shirts! I didn’t know much about sororities, but I soon learned that being a member of one, was so much more than I could have ever imagined.   In the fall of 1998 I joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and I haven’t looked back. It has shaped the woman I am today and I have cultivated so many meaningful relationships.

Recently, a video has gone viral, that made my stomach sick and brought tears to my eyes. I can see my beloved founding mothers and fathers turning in their grave.  Allegedly members of two Greek lettered organizations were caught on camera fighting and carrying on in local restaurant in Ypsilanti Township, MI. The sound was muted because everything was captured by security camera; however the horrific act and their actions were not. Several seconds into the video, men and woman are seen fighting each other.  As if fighting while wearing their prestigious Greek Letters was not enough, one of the men in the fraternity, identified as Ronjour Jacobs, pulled a gun out on the patrons of the restaurant!

Somewhere along the way, someone saw something in Ronjour Jacobs.  Something that he embodied was significant enough to let him into this Fraternity.  This specific Fraternity’s principals include Culture for Service, Service for Humanity; it’s not just words written in a Mission Statement, it is the core of the organization.

The “gang like” notions that surround Black Greek lettered organizations is raising eyebrows nationwide, especially in many National Offices. We, and I say we because I am part of this family, can’t continue to demystify the negative stereotypes when incidences around the country keep happening.

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From → AAKC, KC Wednesday

One Comment
  1. Miss. Marcia permalink

    Great blog Michelle! I think you touched on a very important topic that surrounds fraternities and sororities. Violence has seem to become a prevalent issue surrounding these organizations. Rarely do you come across literature that is written or documented from first hand experience, until I came across Byron Hurt’s documentary in the making on the issue of hazing in American culture. He is a memebr of Omega Psi Phi and is currently fundraising money to get this documentary made. He states that the death of Robert Champion ( the Florida A&M University band member who was killed by his band members because of traditional hazing) sparked his interest in wanting to create the film. Moreover I am aware that the topic of hazing does spark a great debate but in some cases it involves a level of violence that does not seem necessary to belong to a great organization that prides itself in brotherhood/sissterhood and service.

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