Students at Northwestern University are demanding the abolition of fraternities and sororities as inherently racist institutions. The Instagram page “Abolish NU IFC/PHA (Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Association)” denounces all those who support the Greek system as “perpetuating harm” to minorities.
The students declared “The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association are complicit in perpetuating harm. We must abolish these organizations which are embedded with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism.”It is a curious campaign given the existence of historically black fraternities and sororities like Alpha Phi Alpha. Moreover, there is nothing inherently racist or discriminatory about the concept of a fraternity or sorority even though exclusionary policies long plagued Greek systems (as they did universities as a whole).
Zana Rashid, a spokesperson for Northwestern’s Panhellenic Association, has disclosed that the association is in fact discussing abolition. The closing of the Greek system would impact 20 percent of the student population.
The question is whether an entire Greek system should be abolished when almost a quarter of the student body reportedly values and supports it. If a house exhibits discriminatory conduct, it can be addressed like any other part of the university. These fraternities and sororities are first and foremost voluntary associations supported by each of these students. Even if some students do not support or even approve of the system, these students do. It is an associational choice that is tied to their values. Rather than force all other parts of the university to confirm to the views of these opposing students, the university should allow them to create associations that appeal to their own values and interests.