Sororities launch initiatives to diversify Greek life

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

The University Panhellenic Council is launching a new task force and set of initiatives to diversify Greek life and make sorority recruitment more accessible. 

The council’s president Evana Flores said the executive board began their efforts in response to a Campus Climate Response Team meeting after UT Police Department removed masked protestors carrying torches from the Main Mall in November 2017.

“They were asking us what we were doing to educate our members about white supremacy and making people allies,” advertising senior Flores said. “We set out to write a statement from that point owning up to the issues in the past and the issues currently going on and actual ways of amending it.”

Starting fall 2019, the council’s executive board will include a vice president of diversity and inclusion. Business sophomore Eliana Schuller currently works on the new diversity and inclusion task force and is applying for the position. 

“It’s important that we address these issues on a chapter level within our community,” Schuller said. “My biggest idea is to create more programming that is both engaging and informative to change the overall culture without making it seem too forced.” 

The new task force will oversee each chapter’s diversity education programs. Schuller said the task force is committed to promoting inclusivity and integrity, despite a history of segregation and intolerance among Panhellenic chapters. 

“There’s a perception that Greek life … is a little okay with racism, sexism and classism that is perceived within our community,” Schuller said. “That stereotype is there for a reason, but at the same time it’s important to note that it’s not something we’re happy to be a part of.”

Flores said recruitment packets can be hard to get for those who do not know a current or past sorority member to guide them through the application process. To fix this, she said recruitment packets will now be online, making it more accessible for newcomers to rush. 

According to Schuller and president-elect Mary Brinsko, UPC has also recently started hosting information meetings at the Student Activity Center and visiting high schools to expand their reach beyond the usual pool of applicants.

“Everyone wants their friends to be in (their sorority), so their friends are coming from their schools,” Flores said. “It keeps bringing people from the same areas and affluence.”

In addition, UPC president-elect Mary Brinsko said costs are now more transparent. She said instead of listing a blanket price range for all sororities, each chapter will offer a breakdown of all costs from date events to dues to technology fees. 

“In the past we’ve had a lot of women who were going through recruitment and then when they got their bid they had to drop, because it was too expensive,” history junior Brinsko said. “We do offer scholarships, but that’s a very small number of women compared to the 1,500 who go through recruitment.” 

Sorority chapter meetings will include short videos educating members on topics such as cultural appropriation and privilege. While Flores said she believes most biases people hold are not intentional, it is important to teach people to see past stereotypes. 

“It’s something everybody should be educated on whether you’re in a sorority or not,” Flores said. “Part of being in college is getting a new perspective and being educated on these things.”