Sororities on campus have taken action to widen DEI initiatives within their chapters. Collegian file photo.
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In light of recent civil unrest in the United States, several Greek organizations have been under fire for lack of diversity and inclusivity. This has prompted groups to make changes at the national level; while several chapters on Butler’s campus have implemented their own internal initiatives.
Many sororities in the U.S. were started in response to exclusivity. When white women were first admitted to colleges and universities, they were largely segregated on campuses. This inspired a few women on various campuses to start a sorority, a safe space for women to discuss various intellectual topics.
In the 1960s, Greek organizations were officially desegregated. However, this did not prevent local chapters across the country from prioritizing white members or continuing discriminatory practices. The lack of diversity within Greek organizations has remained a topic of discussion even in recent years.
“In the social media age… national organizations have struggled to manage the image of Greek life,” wrote Charlotte Hogg for The Washington Post. “Simmering tensions between national organizations and chapter members that have long existed are erupting as members leak communications and share stories of racism, homophobia and elitism…”
At Butler, many sororities are working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations. Allison Welz, Butler’s Panhellenic Association president, is working on an intake form for every house on campus. One of the questions will ask each chapter how they are promoting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and what kinds of social and educational opportunities they are providing. That way, Panhel can provide chapters with any additional resources to fulfill their DEI goals.
Butler’s Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Alpha Theta are some of the organizations that have eliminated their legacy policy. Greek legacy policies provide an advantage to potential new members who have other women in their family who are alumnae. Getting rid of the policy creates a more even playing field where everyone has a chance of being recruited, regardless of their family history.
Delta Gamma, Alpha Chi Omega, Tri Delta, and Theta also released statements of inclusivity stating that they welcome anyone who identifies as a woman. Therefore, the chapters are not exclusive to just cisgender women.
Madelin Snider, a sophomore art and design major, is the DEI Director for Tri Delta. She started her term in January and has already implemented new programs.
Snider created a DEI event requirement, meaning all Tri Delta members must attend an event that includes some kind of diversity education. This can include events sponsored by the Diversity Center, organizations centered around people with disabilities, racially-diverse organizations and LGBTQ+ organizations.
“It guarantees that they’re getting some portion of DEI outside of what I’m presenting in the chapter, which I think is really great,” Snider said. “There’re so many organizations within the school that do such a great job at educating other people about their perspectives and I think it’s good that they get the opportunity to go see that.”
Snider also sends out a monthly DEI newsletter. She provides Tri Delta members with resources and events on campus. The newsletter also includes a DEI concern form where people can fill out any questions or problems they may have.
Other initiatives Snider is working on include workshops during recruitment to make sure everyone uses inclusive language and the creation of a DEI Committee made up of first-year, sophomore and junior students.
“My overall goal of the position is just making sure people are feeling comfortable and know that they have a place in Tri Delta regardless of any difference they might have,” Snider said.
Avery Buck, a sophomore psychology and English double major, is the DEI Director for Theta. The position was created over the summer and was officially implemented in October. Buck started her term in January.
The first event Buck hosted was a discussion about the documentary “13th.” Theta members were encouraged to watch the film and then join a Zoom conversation with other chapter members. Buck wanted to create a safe space for people to ask questions and talk about what they learned from the documentary.
“I was very nervous about it because it was my first event,” Buck said. “I was pleasantly surprised with how many people came and how many people were willing to be really vulnerable… I was proud of how people came ready to converse and brainstorm.”
Buck hopes to host more events in the coming months, in addition to inviting educators to talk about various topics like redlining. She also wants to implement bias and perception training prior to recruitment.
While there is still a lot of work to be done, Buck said she believes that Theta opening a DEI Director position is a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s really important that we are really purposeful with this position,” Buck said. “We’ve got a ton of work to do. I by no means think like, ‘check, we’re done,’ but it definitely is a great foundation for further work to be done.”