Author discusses Greek Community

All Greek fraternities and sororities should eliminate hazing, Lawrence C. Ross Jr. told an estimated 200 people attending his special lecture last week on Greek life of African-Americans.

“It should be done away with,” Ross said in response to an audience member asking him to define his stand on the issue. “It doesn’t prove anything.”

An active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at the University of California at Berkeley, Ross told the mostly student audience that hazing did not improve the quality of students entering his fraternity. Instead, he said, when his member brothers told the pledges they were being hazed so they could prove their devotion to the fraternity, they were “lying to them.”

Ross, a reporter for the Los Angeles Independent Newspapers, wrote two books, including “The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities.” In “The Divine Nine,” Ross refers to the nine major African-American fraternities and sororities that exist on university campuses today, including VCU’s.

“There is beauty in every organization,” Ross said, although many, including he, suffer from fraternal bias for the organization in which they once actively participated.

In his lecture, Ross not only stressed communication within the different fraternities and sororities but also among Greek organizations and non-Greek groups within the university community.

“If people didn’t know who we were and what we did, they would always view us with suspicion,” Ross said, explaining the importance of his “Divine Nine” work. Not knowing details about his wife’s sorority experience, he said, motivated him to write the book.

“Why, in all of the years that we have been married, have I never picked up her book to find out about her organization, and she mine?” he asked.

Once Ross decided he might write a book, he looked for one about the different fraternities and sororities but found none. Therefore, he said, a history book on the different African-American fraternities and sororities was something that people, especially students, needed desperately.

“It is important for college students to realize – particularly African-American fraternities and sororities – that they have a lot more power than they think,” he said.

Although the author focused his lecture on Greek organizations, many attending the event were affiliated with other groups on the Monroe Park Campus.

“I came because I’ve read parts of the “Divine Nine” book,” said Irma McKie, a 20-year-old junior premed/biology major.

Others attended the lecture for different reasons. For instance, Pam Mayo, a 20-year-old junior psychology major, wanted to hear about the sorority choices available.

“I came because I was curious, and I wanted to find out more information about sororities here at VCU,” she said.

Still, Natasha Riddick, a 20-year-old junior psychology major, attended the event to learn more about the various Greek organizations so she could join one if she wanted.

“The lecture,” she said, “helped me determine which sorority to be in and how active I will be.”

After the lecture, Ross responded to some audience members’ questions that ranged from the reason he chose the APA fraternity to the time he spent writing his book.

He then signed copies of his book and mingled with many of the audience members.

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