By Andrew Ladenheim
Hours before the most anticipated event of Greek Week, on April 3, the brothers and sisters of the FDU community breathlessly prepare their routines. The Meet the Greeks event showcases the frivolity and unity of membership.
Meet the Greeks is also a part of the competitive spirit in the community. Conflict emerged when some of the Greeks were preparing dance performances that incorporated the traditional dance culture of multicultural fraternities. Step and Stroll dance has a unique tradition as one historically performed by black fraternities and sororities at many university campuses.
The issue has become taboo. Members have refused to take part in interviews without anonymity – saying they feared retaliation that could include consequences for their organization, as well as for themselves.
John Fruhmann, president of Sigma Pi was willing to discuss the issue with The Equinox, despite possible repercussions.
When Fruhmann was asked if there was a blanket ban on strolling, he said, “Only if you were not a multicultural frat. The decision was that if you protest the decision or anything like that you are going to be in danger of suspending your org and we are going to call your national office.”
Although Sigma Pi is not a multicultural fraternity, members still wanted to incorporate the dance in their routines.
“We are taking something they practice and expanding. Take anything, like food, from somewhere else and make it greater; it doesn’t diminish it, just expands it,” Fruhmann said.
“We are not doing something in a negative connotation, we are not trying to outright disrespect something they are doing. It is not like we performed once, we’ve been doing it for years,” he added. “Nobody goes to Meet the Greek to see little skits or tabling or little shows, they go there to see strolling.”
Senior Luis Maravilla, a brother of the Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, had a different view on the situation. When The Equinox interviewed Maravilla, he discussed the importance behind strolling in his community.
“Because back then slaves weren’t allowed to communicate, or really speak with each other, so that is how they would. They would use dance to communicate with each other back then,” Maravilla said. “So there is a meaning behind and some major historical significance. We have a reason why we do it.”
Fruhmann acknowledges the feelings behind multicultural organizations but also feels like something was taken away from his own fraternity.
“I was practicing all semester and so were other groups. They basically had that taken away from them. This is something on campus that not only Greeks should be aware of but the student body as a whole,” Fruhmann said.
Due to the rules that Greeks are not allowed to discuss this matter outside of their organization, The Equinox interviewed another Greek, who has wished to remain anonymous. This anonymous interviewee is from a non-multicultural sorority.
“We said as a group that we respect the cultures with backgrounds of strolling. So, when the original decision came that we would not stroll, we said, OK, we wouldn’t with the historical and cultural background associated with the dances. Originally, we weren’t going to do any dancing just go up and give an explanation, but then when it came about that we could [stroll], we decided to do it,” the anonymous student said.
The Inter Greek Council (IGC) is the governing board of fraternities and sororities that oversees all Greek Life at FDU. First, Greek orgs were told they were not allowed to stroll, then that ban was reversed.
In regards to the decision, the anonymous source said, “At the end of the day, they come to a decision, and we abide by it. We do have an IGC which is formally in change of events like Meet the Greeks, then we have student life, Jocelyn [Moses] and Gaby [Mendoza] who are in charge of overseeing everything that happens.”
Luis Maravilla also spoke out about the decision. “This wasn’t our decision, this was Jocelyn [Moses’s] to temporarily say that mainstream orgs can’t perform at Meet the Greeks.”
Looking forward at how organizations can be more sensitive and address students’ feelings more efficiently and respectfully, Maravilla said, “Hopefully the town hall addresses the situation. We express opinions and say why stepping and strolling is important. I won’t hesitate to speak at the meeting. No one should be attacked or taking it too over their heads. Hopefully nothing chaotic happens.”
The anonymous source also had advice for the Greek community in the future.
“I think we should take into account and ask people how they feel about certain things. Have open lines of communication, because if we don’t say it upfront, we don’t know how you feel about. And there’s no malicious intent when it comes to things like dancing and so at the end we just hope to build a better Greek Community among students on campus.”
The Greeks hosted a town hall on April 15 that lasted nearly two hours. The Greeks were supposed to hash out the question: Should mainstream fraternities be allowed to step and stroll?
The meeting drew to a close and the end result was that they would continue to discuss the issue further and render a decision at a later date.
In the closing remarks at the town hall, an anonymous speaker said, “Don’t go off into your corners tonight and start chatting it up – on your Insta, Twitter, Snapchat and start talking [stuff]. Do your research and gain a real understanding… You can’t understand and respect one without understanding and respecting the other.”
Sigma Pi-Epsilon-Xi Chapter at Meet the Greeks
Photo by Manuel Malcampo