- Dining Discrimination at the University of Richmond
- Lost Cause Ideology, Found at the University of Richmond
- Students of Color in the Messenger
- Westhampton College Traditions
- Racism in UR Fraternities (1947-1985)
- Resistance & Compliance
- The Title IX Controversy at UR
- "Dark Side of College Life"
- Chinese Student Experience
- Student Life and White Supremacy
- George Modlin's Segregated University of Richmond
- Students of Color at UR (1946-1971)
- Performance & Policy
- Silence in the Archives
- Black Student Experience at UR (1970-1992)
- Faculty Response to Institutional and National Change (1968-1973)
- Something Wrong with the System
- Culture of Complacency
- On Campus but Not Welcomed
- Can I Survive?
- Where I Come From, You Recognize Humanity
- The Damage of the Affirmative Action Myth
- A Feather in Their Cap: The Story of Barry Greene (R'72)
- A Campus Divided
- Freeman Digitally Remastered
- Remembering the Forgotten: Black Staff Members (1946-1971)
- Spider of Color: Korean-American Representation at the University of Richmond
- Theater History at the University of Richmond
- Building the Web
- Digital Stories
- Oral History Collection
- Browse Items
- Subjects List
Black Greek Organizations (1980 - 1995)
The first black Greek organization to join University of Richmond was Phi Beta Sigma, also known as the Sigmas, in 1980. There were 11 fraternities on campus not including the Sigmas. Fraternities were permitted to submit bids to both black and white students, and yet only one black student was a member of a fraternity prior to 1980. In order for a new fraternity to create a chapter at University of Richmond, first a proposal had to have been approved by the Interfraternity Council (IFC) which are representatives of the 11 fraternities on campus, then the Student Life Council, a meeting of the faculty, and also of the Board of Trustees. The IFC had a unanimous vote to welcome the Sigmas to UR. Wayne Biggs, President of the IFC said in a Collegian article called “Largely Black Fraternity Seeks to Start UR Colony” that the fraternity would be “good for the University in terms of recruiting black students and good for black students in social terms.”
James Reed, president and founder of Richmond’s Sigma chapter and six other black students, Clayton White, Tim Spriggs, Jesse Moore, James Lyles, Mike London, and Kenny Still comprised Richmond’s Sigma chapter. Reed said “Once blacks realize they can come here for academics and a social life on campus, we will be bringing culture to the University; they will come here for academics, not just athletics.” Most of the Sigmas were football players and had been initiated into the organization at Virginia Commonwealth University. In an article published by the Collegian called “Phi Beta Sigma Colonizes New Fraternity at Richmond” Reed said that they had two goals, one was to increase membership by ten new members, and two, to be recognized. The Sigma chapter helped cultivate a social life for black students on campus, hosting parties that catered to black students but were not exclusive. Black students had to create their experience on their own, and the Sigmas were pioneers in changing the black student image on campus by making their presence known through social activities. The Sigma’s were also trying to reach out to black women at UR by recruiting members of the sister organization Zeta Phi Beta, also known as Sigma Doves. It is unknown as to when the Sigma’s left University of Richmond, however it took until 2009 for UR to gain another historically black fraternity.
Delta Sigma Theta (1992)
Although the idea of a black sorority joining University of Richmond was discussed in the Collegian in 1989, the historically black sorority Delta Sigma Theta (DST) did not create a chapter until 1992. The Collegian notes that the Committee on Sororities did not bring a historically black sorority to campus because they did not want to seem as though they were segregating black and white students, or that the administration did not want black students with white students. The historically black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma would have already been established at that point, and segregation was not a fear the students had. The goal was to create safe spaces for black students, where they are not constantly under scrutiny. The Dean of Westhampton College, Patricia C. Harwood said, “It seems that minority students need and benefit from an opportunity not only to be a part of the integrated mainstream of life on the campus, but also from an opportunity to come together in an organization of minority students.” The Dean’s comment highlights the disconnect between black students and the administration and that black students had to rely on people that didn’t understand their plight to improve their situations. This is because the realization took so long to come. To begin cultivating an environment for black women in 1990 despite black students having been on campus since 1968 is not an accomplishment and is instead an example of the lack of interest the administration had for black students.
In an article published in 1992 by the Collegian called “Historically Black Sororities Could Colonize in Fall 1992,” the potential colonization of historically black sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) and Delta Sigma Theta (DST) are discussed. In 1992 only three percent of the students enrolled were African American. In order to colonize, Delta’s needed at least seven members, whereas AKA’s needed twelve. Tina Cade, president of the Minority Student Union, expressed a fear that the black student population was not large enough to support both groups. Students felt they needed a black sorority on campus because it provides a support group specifically for black women, which did not exist prior to the establishment of DST at University of Richmond. President of UR’s DST chapter, Juletta Tyson, said that a problem with creating a chapter was the lack of numbers because of how small the black student female population was. Black sororities are sources of empowerment, and validation for black women.