Senior Ebony Azumah, president of the Black Student Union and member of Delta Sigma Theta, is advocating for a change in the way Greek organizations are governed at USF. She is proposing the establishment of a separate governing entity from Greek Council: the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).
The group would be a second governing body for three black Greek organizations: Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Alpha Phi Alpha.
“I am trying to move for USF to make an accommodation for black organizations to not have to be governed by the Greek Council that currently exists,” Azumah said.
She said the needs of historically black organizations are different, and she wants this to be acknowledged in the organization’s governing body.
The NHPC was founded in 1930 to be the governing body for black Greek organizations. Today, the group is internationally recognized. At USF, the three black fraternities attend Greek Council meetings, but run and organize their own separate events like the “Meet the Greeks” event, separate from the one that Greek Council organizes.
“The black community on campus is very small,” Azumah said. “It is a little under 500 students. There are only so many of [these students] that want to be Greek. At any given time, a black organization will have about 10 people or under in the entire fraternity or sorority.”
The current structure of the Greek Council, which operates under Student Leadership and Engagement, incorporates the Panhellenic committee, which governs three sororities on campus: Delta Zeta, Tri Delta and Kappa Alpha Theta. Azumah said that Greek Council is the most accommodating toward Panhellenic organizations’ traditions, but not for black Greek organizations.
“There is no acknowledgment that these are historically black organizations, but we do accept other members,” Azumah said. “So that opens up the door to, at some at these events, [having] people coming up and asking if white people are allowed in our sorority. [There are] all of these weird, ignorant questions that we have to deal with because [the Greek Council] does not address it.”
However, Greek Council advised Azumah to change her approach because of a contract between the council and University regarding Greek Life on campus. This contract, according to Greek Council President Roman Belash, states that there may be only one Greek-governing body for all organizations.
“School policy dictates that all single-gender Greek organizations must be within Greek Council. Within Greek Council, other councils may be created or added, such as Panhellenic,” Belash said. He explained that the National-Panhellenic Council could exist under Greek Council, but could not be separate.
Azumah believes this defeats the purpose of the National-Panhellenic Greek Council. “I believe [the NPHC committee under Greek Council] will only be effective if special laws and accommodations are made for the NPHC under Greek Council,” Azumah said. “I’m seeking an annex to Greek governing laws that is tailored toward the NPHC organizations.”
In this scenario, Greek Council, according to Azumah, would remain the single governing body, but the NPHC organizations would follow additional annex laws created by the organizations themselves.
The group would still need to follow Greek Council’s guidelines and attend the official meetings.
Though Azumah has not officially approached Greek Council with her idea, Greek Life advisor Cesar Delgadillo said in an email that he supports the potential establishment of a NPHC as a committee under Greek Council.
“We would work with them to figure out how to establish and operate it in a way that is sustainable, meets their needs and keeps them engaged with the greater Greek community so they can meet the expectations set for all social fraternities and sororities,” Delgadillo said. “Right now we are in that space of acknowledging that there is change that needs to happen and [we are] starting to work with all the different stakeholders to make sure that whatever changes are made are effective, sustainable, and driven by our values.”
Delgadillo explained that Greek Life is still exploring what a NPHC would look like as a committee under Greek Council.
Azumah said her goal is to propose the annex laws to Greek Council for the three black organizations before she graduates.
“We have just been told ‘no’ so many times,” Azumah said. “My appeal is that you sometimes have to accommodate that things are different [and] that there is diversity in everything. Even while we are on this campus together and we function together, the fact of the matter is that these organizations do things by themselves. Does USF care about that?”