What will be the price of progress?

Kyle Hightower

When issues are brought up that have the ability to affect the masses, inevitably there is always someone or some side of the issues that is left out. The letters that have poured in regarding Greek Village have been great. It shows that students at Western don’t mind voicing their concerns about issues that affect them. So while I’m apprehensive to add yet another musing on Greek Village to the pile, my take on it, I hope, goes to at least one of those unheard sides.

There has and will always be a noticeable difference between the historically African-American Greek-letter organizations and the predominantly white Greek organizations at Western. Greek Village is by no means anything about race, so hold on before you say that I’m trying to make this a black and white thing. I’m not, so don’t call Al Sharpton. The difference I’m talking about deals simply with the number of members of the various groups and how those numbers relate to this proposed project.

Historically African-American Greek organizations, or the Divine Nine as they are called, by design typically don’t exceed a roster of 25-30 members at a time on any particular campus. And at a predominantly white college, that is even inflated a little bit. The exceptions lie at historically black colleges and universities where the numbers are more comparable in some instances to the 50-plus number of members seen in predominantly white Greek organizations.

I say all of that to say this: At Western, no historically African-American Greek organization has a sanctioned fraternity or sorority house. Some have in the past, but none currently. The reason they don’t in many cases has to do with a combination of two things. First there is a lack of sustaining alumni financial support given to them and they typically have low semester dues. Subsequently most of the members of these organizations live on campus or apartments off campus.

Granted, that is not to say that historically African-American Greek organizations can’t or won’t in the future raise the funds to buy houses for their chapters at Western. I know of a few that have those plans in the works. But my question goes to what will happen to these groups if the proposed Greek Village goes through? While some of these African-American Greek groups might be able to secure funds to afford houses, it will in no way be a $500,000-$1 million home. And if they can’t afford to live in the Greek Village, will they still be allowed to have a sanctioned/recognized home somewhere else? What will that create? A luxury Greek Village and then a Greek Village ghetto?

Also, I keep hearing how it will bring Greek groups closer together. That is commendable and something to be applauded. But how can there be complete Greek unity when a portion of the Greek community is left to be on the outside looking in? There have been several initiatives to foster unity among the two distinct groups of Greek organizations in recent semesters. What will become of this newfound kinship if there is yet another thing in place to divide us.

I don’t know what the answer is. Progress doesn’t mean you create an infallible system that is all-inclusive. I’m not saying that. Nor am I saying that by progressing with the Greek Village anyone is wrong. But it does raise questions.

Kyle Hightower is a senior print journalism major from Paducah.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are only those of the writer, and not the Herald or Western Kentucky University.