Is Divine Nine the Key to Increasing Diversity at Furman?
Black Greek life at Furman will provide a breath of fresh air, one that is desperately needed now more than ever.
Many students at predominantly white institutions (PWI) like Furman have never heard of the Divine Nine. At the very least, they do not think of Divine Nine organizations as elements of Greek life on campus.
The Divine Nine is composed of nine historically black Greek life organizations, four sororities and five fraternities. The sororities are Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho. The fraternities are Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, and Iota Phi Theta. Of these nine organizations, Furman currently only has one on their campus:the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. However, it has no active members.
I am sure most students are familiar with the wide range of predominantly white Greek life organizations that we have here on Furman's campus, and all the big events that they hold. I know that for many of my peers, these organizations have been a great way to get involved and create community with like-minded individuals. However, given that these organizations are almost entirely white, their benefit is not shared evenly by students of color.
The reality for black students is that they do not have the same opportunity to grow in community with people who look like them and share common experiences as they should. This being the case, we may be able to attribute Furman’s lack of black Greek life to the low percentage of black students. While recent strides have been made to increase the number of black students on Furman’s campus, more certainly can be done.
If Furman aims to help black students, it should consider starting with bringing back black fraternities and sororities to campus. Divine Nine gives students leadership skills, a sense of community, and fellowship. At a PWI this is important so that black students can be uniquely themselves without feeling like they have to assimilate to a white dominated culture. Divine Nine will be able to not only help make Furman more inclusive by building community for black students, but in time, it will also help make Furman a more diverse institution.
By bringing in Divine Nine organizations again, Furman would provide black students the needed space to form a community without assimilating to a white dominated culture, and consequently attract more black prospective students in the future. Black students that visit campuses with Divine Nine organizations know that those universities care about their interests. Furman claims to, and they need to back that up.
Although this process can be tedious, Furman should seriously consider funding and implementing the Divine Nine on campus. This would certainly enrich student life here and add a new component to Furman, one that extends beyond the confines of the white dominated culture that Furman has been trapped in for so long. This will allow our community to grow as a whole and expand peoples’ mindset and appreciation for diversity throughout Furman. Bringing the Divine Nine onto Furman’s campus will be essential for attaining a community of togetherness, the very thing that Furman preaches day in and day out. Black Greek life at Furman will provide a breath of fresh air, one that is desperately needed now more than ever.