Students in Butler’s Greek life discuss the status of diversity, equity and inclusion within the system. Graphic by Presley Fletcher.
TOMMY PIERCE | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
With recruitment starting in January, many involved in Greek life are excited and hopeful for the winter recruitment process, but some students are concerned with the lack of understanding or resources for marginalized groups in the Greek system.
Initiatives have been started within Butler’s Panhellenic Association to improve diversity. Panhel president, Allison Welz, declined to comment for this story.
Despite having these initiatives, there are still issues that need to be addressed. Senior dance pedagogy major, Sula Frausto, recently resigned from her role as DEI chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma and decided to leave the sorority altogether. She said she felt members of Kappa were not taking issues surrounding diversity and inclusion seriously and that some disregarded her and her position.
“Greek life at Butler is very similar to Greek life anywhere else,” Frausto said. “It is a system that is rooted in a long history of oppression and exclusion, and it manifests today as systemic racism, homophobia, sexism, classism and just the discrimination of really any group that holds a marginalized identity.”
Senior psychology major, Abbey Collins, said, as a Black member of Kappa Alpha Theta, she agrees Greek life in general is rooted in some form of systematic oppression and stereotypes often push people of color away.
“I was very nervous to go through recruitment my freshman year, because the best picture that I got of Greek life was from my friends [at] other schools — very white, very skinny,” Collins said. “Just a picture of a typical sorority girl that you would think of.”
Collins, however, did not see as many issues with Greek life at Butler University as she expected. Collins cited value based recruitment, wherein potential members are selected based on personalities and beliefs rather than looks, as a big reason for this, and she believes Greek life at Butler is about connecting with others.
“I would say the core of Greek life at Butler is just giving people a community of people that have similar values and goals as them,” Collins said.
Senior chemistry major, Justin Smith, is the mental health chair for his fraternity Phi Delta Theta and said he feels he can offer a unique perspective on Greek life.
“I both rushed and pledged Phi Delta Theta, openly gay, and it was actually the first time I had come out to kind of a mass group of people, and it was one of the most pleasant experiences of my life,” Smith said. “I have never in my life experienced so many people who are open-minded to people of other sexualities.”
But, Smith said this does not mean that Phi Delt is perfect in terms of diversity and inclusion, giving the example of an incident that occurred last year.
“We had a pledge make some sort of slur,” Smith said. “And [fraternity leaders] had to readdress if we wanted this pledge.”
According to Smith, they ultimately decided to let this prospective member go.
Greek life in general can be a controversial topic, whether it be in terms of hazing, systematic oppression or exclusion of peoples of color. Frausto said in her resignation letter from Kappa that she can no longer stay within a system, like Greek life, that has no desire to change.
“I am here to tell you that no amount of reform will fix a system that does not want to be fixed,” Frausto wrote in her resignation letter. “No amount of DEI training can rid our chapter of these exclusionary principles. I have tried, as countless others have tried before me, to no avail. Reform would only be possible if each individual member were fully committed to doing the work to address something that is systemically and institutionally racist, classist, ableist, queerphobic, sexist, etc. As demonstrated by this chapter’s utter lack of willingness to engage in the most rudimentary of DEI discussions and presentations, ‘fixing’ Kappa is wholly impossible.”
Kappa is not unique in this issue, and Frausto does not believe there is anything that can be done to fix Greek life at Butler. She believes it is too rooted in systematic oppression and exclusion of non-white students to be fixed.
“I don’t think that really any amount of work or DEI training will do anything to fix the system,” Frausto said. “I think there are definitely steps that can be taken to make it a better place and to make it a more inclusive and safe space for marginalized individuals. But I think it takes the full commitment of every single member of Greek life to have this actually be realized.”