Panhellenic Task Force releases diversity and inclusion action plan

Josh Hamburger

The Panhellenic Diversity and Inclusion Task Force met with members of the Panhellenic Executive Board and Panhellenic Delegates from each chapter Wednesday night to present and finalize their Recommendations and Action Plan, targeting diversity and inclusion in the Panhellenic system going forward.

The Task Force, comprised of representatives from each Panhellenic sorority, was created last September in response to concerns on campus surrounding diversity in Greek life. It was charged with examining the issue and coming up with recommended steps for increasing diversity and inclusion in the Panhellenic system.

According to Senior Rebecca Chong, president of the Task Force, the plan was written during the fall semester and revised over the course of the past semester with input from Greek, non-Greek and faculty leadership.

“We started with really big ideas and really big thoughts and feelings and stories … a lot of qualitative data, and then narrowed down to an actual recommendation for [the Panhellenic Council],” Chong said. “The goal the whole time while we were making it was how can we be proactive rather than reactive, because we did feel like the formation of the task force was more reactive.”

The plan includes both short- and long-term actions and breaks the issue down into recommendations regarding Panhellenic recruitment, internal sorority relations and external campus relations. A central piece is the creation of a permanent Diversity and Inclusion Team as an ad hoc committee to the Panhellenic council, a measure that Chong said will ensure that the dialogue on the topic will continue and progress will be measured as the plan is implemented.

Chong stressed that the plan is really a first step in addressing issues with diversity in the Panhellenic system.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” she said. “This is the first thing that Panhellenic has ever done in regards to diversity and inclusion in a systematic way. It’s never been something that they’ve formally put forward, and I think that that’s a huge step in and of itself.”

Recruitment

In terms of Panhellenic recruitment, the plan promotes “education and engagement”, focusing on the dispersal of information pre-recruitment and actual practices in recruitment events.

In particular, the plan focuses on interaction with Potential New Members (PNMs) prior to recruitment itself. It stresses more access to in-depth information for PNMs through both events and social media, suggesting that Panhellenic be represented at all events where other campus-wide organizations are present and hold more in-depth information sessions for both freshmen and upperclassmen/transfers.

The plan also stresses the promotion of Panhellenic as a whole, rather than the promotion of individual sororities in addition to training for Gamma Chis in discussion of diversity and inclusion in the system.

“We want to make sure that everyone’s able to feel they have access to recruitment just because they want to do it or because it’s an option,” Chong said.“They shouldn’t feel any pressures whether that’s informal pressure from campus climate or campus culture, and I think one of the ways to address that is through education and access and really focusing on being more present.”

In addition to education for PNMs, the plan suggests mandated training for recruitment teams and chapter presentations on diversity and inclusion. These trainings would particularly address sensitivity to varied identities during recruitment rounds and ask chapters to discuss policies on the matching of PNMs and members based on identity.

Internal

The plan advises ongoing education within Panhellenic sorority chapters that Chong said is meant to ensure that all members feel included in the community and have a support system if they do not.

In order to facilitate education and sensitivity, a member of each chapter will be elected as the Diversity and Inclusion Team Member charged with promoting and maintaining education and discussion on issues of diversity and inclusion and providing guidance. The members will act as liaisons between the Panhellenic Council and the chapters and receive education through offices on campus such as the Office of Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence and the Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Committee.

The task force suggests that each chapter host yearly diversity and inclusion trainings for their members and that a computer training module specific to diversity in Panhellenic be mandatory for chapter officers and highly encouraged for all chapter members. Additionally, the report recommends that the new Diversity and Inclusion team work to create campaigns “highlighting diverse identities” and bridging gaps between both Greek and non-Greek groups.

External

The final section of the plan addresses “collaboration, inclusion, and diversity among organizations and individuals inside and outside of the Panhellenic communities” and promotes more awareness and communication in the way Panhellenic relates to the rest of campus.

The suggestions include encouraging members of Panhellenic sororities to attend Multicultural Leadership Council events along with other events involving identity, diversity and inclusion. Additionally, it promotes programming organized by organizations inside and outside of Greek life and framing and broadcasting of chapter events in a way that reaches non-Greek students and makes them feel welcome to attend.

External relations is the shortest section, Chong said, because it is an area that Panhellenic does not have direct control over.

“External is very tricky because it’s kind of the effect of a lot of the causes, and so if we can fix the causes first, then the effects will also change,” she said.