Our Local Disgrace

As a part of The Cavalier Daily’s 130 year anniversary, we are republishing articles from our archives. This article originally ran in The Cavalier Daily March 23, 1979.

Two sororities and one fraternity plan to hold spring formals at a racially discriminatory country club this year, despite complaints from Afro-American Affairs Dean William M. Harris. The patronization of Farmington Country Club by these organizations must be regarded as a disgrace to the University, and an affront to the black members of this community, 

Delta Tau Delta fraternity and Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta. These sororities should cancel their Farmington plans immediately. 

Three years ago a controversy arose over University President Frank L. Hereford Jr.’s membership in Farmington, a private country club that excludes blacks as members or guests. By the time Hereford finally resigned, a College department chairman had resigned in disgust over Hereford’s recalcitrance. The faculty had voted in disapproval of his membership and black students had protested the administration’s lukewarm commitment to minorities. 

No one could more visibly represent a university than its president. Yet, fraternaties’ and sororities’ acceptance of racism are just as disconcerting. Members of these University groups are young people: products of an era where the public eye is less myopic and racial attitudes supposedly are so just. One might say — trite through it is — that these students are the leaders of tomorrow. Are they significantly different from the generation that preceded them?

Though minority affairs programs and services exist at the University, can one honestly say that students are committed to racial equality? At least one fraternity and several sororities have scheduled dances at Farmington over the past few years, leading us to believe that the Jeffersonian ideal of the University community is farcical. What “community” can exist here, when students opt to use the recreational facilities forbidden to fellow students because of their race? 

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The issue of racial attitudes at the University has been quieted, almost ignored since Hereford’s resignation from Farmington and the formulation of the Office of Afro-American Affairs. Only the more overt expressions of racial tension have abated, however social organizations continue to patronize Farmington. Fraternities and sororities are still largely segregated. Most major University organizations have few or no black members. Although each of these issues is tremendous in and of itself, they cannot be studied or solved in isolation. The university has pledged to make a good faith effort to boost black enrollment, but its reputation for frigid relations between blacks and whites lingers. 

The Black Student Alliance, the University Union and Student Council planned a forum to thaw that glacial atmosphere last semester, but their effort died. Lack of black involvement in major University groups was the slated topic. Only a student or two had signed up in advance to pose questions or challenges to student leaders. Later the forum coordinators decided that confrontation had been too risky an idea anyway. 

We disagree. Confrontation — if it means face to face discussion about a sensitive issue — cannot hurt in this case. We believe that a certain “confrontation” on Carr’s Hill three years ago lead to the creation of the Office of Afro-American Affairs. Last semester’s forum was aborted because it was poorly publicized. Bureaucracy also was a major stumbling block. Students naturally were reluctant to sign up and speak. 

We urge that the forum with a similar concept be planned and fully publicized this semester. Currently a “Black Greek Forum” is slated for after spring break — IFC and ISC officers will use the event to discuss problems and improve their contacts with black fraternities and sororities. Such ideas might be positive steps toward evaporating the silence, if not the tension, that surrounds the University’s racial dilemma. 

Transcribed by Jacob Asch

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