WASHINGTON (Jan. 30)
Discrimination in college fraternities is being kept alive mainly by “old grads,” “defenders of the system, ” who have left school and are oblivious to contemporary attitudes and trends, a report published by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith said today.
The study on fraternity bias, published in connection with the League’s 50th annual meeting which opened here today, noted that, although bias has markedly lessened since the end of World War II- mostly because of pressure from undergraduates and college administrators–“democracy on the campus” is still a long way off.
According to the survey, a bitter tug-of-war goes on between undergraduates and educators, who are aware of changing social values in the United States, and the conservative “old grads” who are contributors to the colleges and have a say in the prospective employment of new graduates. Although 61 national fraternities have removed racial and religious discriminatory clauses from their constitutions and by-laws, and some have offered waivers of the “socially acceptable, ” publicly stated policies of non-discrimination are quietly circumvented by “gentlemen’s agreements.”
The survey said that in the main, national fraternity organizations, prodded by influential alumni, have held to their fixed opinion that fraternities are private associations “of congenials” with the right to discriminate–even though state authorities have ruled otherwise and many local fraternity chapters have disaffiliated with their national bodies over the issue.
The survey noted that many college administrators are afraid to participate vhole-heartedly in the struggle for democracy in fraternities because “they are uncomfortably aware of the power of alumni” as prospective benefactors, and of state legislators who allocate funds for higher education.
As illustration, it cited a “secret” poll of deans of 323 colleges made by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The deans, after a lengthy debate, finally passed a mild resolution that colleges “encourage” local fraternity chapters to work for the acceptance of student membership without regard to race, religion or national origin. Even though the poll was secret and the resolution mild, 44 deans declined to vote and, of the remaining 279, only 58 percent openly supported the resolution.