Black Affairs Council responds to DE article

Students said at a Black Affairs Council meeting Thursday that they feel unwelcome at the university.

They said they didn’t fit into the university image that Chancellor Rita Cheng is attempting to create.

The discussion was spurred by complaints about what they considered as a negative portrayal of blacks in the Daily Egyptian.

“We are talking about the portrayal of African-American students in general in the media, and we are talking about the image of SIU and how, in my personal opinion, we do not fit that image,” said Kwalee Kemp, a senior from Lynwood studying workforce education and development.

Kemp is the coordinator of the Black Affairs Council, an umbrella organization that serves the black community, and invited Daily Egyptian members to the meeting for an open discussion on an article Thursday titled, “Fraternity on suspension for low member GPAs.”

The article discusses the university’s suspension of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity until spring 2015. Andy Morgan, director of Greek Life, said the fraternity was not meeting university Greek standards because of low grade point averages, and the group would not be able to recruit new members.

New fraternity members must maintain at least a 2.7 grade point average, but the average new member GPA dropped to 1.97, according to the article.

It also quoted Morgan to say the fraternity completed 4.9 community service hours, which is incorrect. The article should have quoted Morgan to say each member completed 4.9 hours.

Multiple people asked what the relevance was of running the article, as it only affected a small group of people.

Tara Kulash, the Daily Egyptian’s editor-in-chief, said Greek organizations are expected to uphold higher standards than the rest of students. She said the article was balanced in citing the university’s reason for suspending the organization and the fraternity’s opinion of why they were suspended.

While meeting attendees stressed the fraternity was more than the annual Player’s Ball event it throws, Cordaro McKee, Kappa Alpha Psi president, said in Thursday’s article he believed the suspension had to do with a bias against the event. He pointed out that the university provided water and food tents at last year’s Polar Bear, an all-day drinking event sponsored by Pinch Penny Pub. He said Player’s Ball, a university-sponsored event, did not receive the same support.

Chris Shelton, a graduate student in education from Chicago and adviser for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said if what is being reported is truth, it should be reported, but he would like to see more positive events covered.

One example he pointed out was an Aug. 26 front-page photo, where police were pictured tear-gassing a large group of people at a party.

After the photo came out, Cheng said she met with city officials and police officers to discuss the picture’s damage to the university’s image.

Kemp said it was more concerning that the administration did not address students being tear-gassed to break up the group.

Nicholas Simpson, a senior from Homewood studying political science and president of Iota Phi Theta fraternity, said he tells people not to go to SIUC because of the unwelcome environment for black students.

Simpson said he is writing an open letter to the university about African-American students’ treatment, including program cuts. He emphasized that students are important to the university, and the black community should come together to make that known.

 

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