"I graduated from UGA class of 2019. Out of my four years at UGA, I spent approximately two years in my sorority before dropping. While I met some lovely people during my time in Panhellenic greek life, I ultimately found the experience and the culture to often be disturbing and outdated.
I would also like to say that with this statement I aim to not talk over or discredit any BIPOC in UGA’s Panhellenic greek life system that had any positive experience, and I would also like to credit the people who work to make the system more diverse and inclusive. I also apologize and regret any moments where I was complacent in the face of racism in Panhellenic greek life.
The recruitment process of Panhellenic greek life is a real life analogy of systematic racism in the United States. After having to participate in the process of “recruitment” involving in creating a new pledge class, I believe the current system needs to be dismantled or changed to encourage sororities to be more diverse. Pretty much the only way into a sorority is if you are a legacy or know someone in the year before.
Considering that the university was de-segregated in 1961, and a lot of sorority chapters on campus were founded before de- segregation, it is to be expected that these chapters are still suffering and standing upon the foundings of racism.
During recruitment, statements like “I just don’t think she would be a good fit” are said 100x a day as a way to vaguely dismiss why someone couldn’t join the sorority. During my experience in “recruitment”, I was trying to “recruit” a friend of mine who is a POC. When the statement as to why she shouldn’t make it to the next round arose and I tried to defend her, and the same dismissive “I just don’t think she would be a good fit” was thrown at me. When later that night, I expressed that I believed racism was behind it, a few girls in my sorority totally dismissed my concerns and even mocked me for it. That incident was not isolated, I constantly realized how much harder girls had to “fight” for their friends of color to make it to the next round of recruitment or into the sorority.
There were no black girls in my pledge class.
One of my friends of color in my sorority was at a social at a fraternity party and one of the boys pointed to her and said something along the lines of asking another girl “what is she doing here”.
At pretty much every social I ever went to if there was a song playing with the n word in it - most people sang it at the top of their lungs.
Black sororities (Divine 9) at UGA are to be celebrated. However, the fact it feels like an entire different systems? I was not even made aware of these sororities until later in my college years. (Partially to do my own ignorance). Can “Panhellenic” just be another word for segregated?? This needs to be researched into and addressed.
Things greek life could do:
-Sororities are rolling in money, sororities need to talk about how they will use their funds to increase diversity AND diversity education (and to have an intersectional approach to any of these conversations with the LGBTQIA community in mind)
-Pretty much every sorority on campus, especially the old row ones, have HUGE histories of racism. These sororities need to address these HEAD ON with their members, and have these conversations and work shops on how they can do better. Each sorority needs to release statements on their history and list an accountable list of what they will do better. (Some sororities may have different histories, and may need different approaches)
-If they have a “standards” board: there should be harsh statements and punishments for any comments off racism, singing the n word, or god forbid saying it. Going off of this, it should also be encouraged to let the leadership of the sorority know if any racist acts occurred. this should result in immediate expulsion of the sorority.
-Sororities need to educate themselves on cultural appropriation. WAY too many girls dress up in cultural appropriating attire for socials, date nights. Times have changed and hopefully more people are educated on this now. But it should be a rule - NO cultural appropriation
-During recruitment week, there needs to be training and talks on diversity. Instead of spending 90 hours learning a chant, maybe allocate some of those hours to instructive conversations.
-Greek life organizations that fill the bars in Athens with blatant racist rules of entry should combat these bars head on. If they don’t fill them - these bars won’t survey. Put pressure on these bars in Athens to DO BETTER
-Show more support for the Divine 9 on campus “If gaps are going to be closed another essential tool is to educate incoming freshmen of all Greek opportunities the university has to offer. The rushing process is quite obvious to incoming freshmen but NPHC interest meetings are usually quietly advertised and less likely to be presented in arrival packets. University administrators at PWIs can assist in bridging this gap by bringing awareness and having readily information to give away to students. Lauren Davis, a fourth year MIST major at UGA and Eta Xi member explains, “simply showing your support for organizations you aren’t a part of is a way to bridge the gap in itself. Them seeing what we do and us seeing what they do is only going to get people talking and add a positive lasting impact.” from article:
There’s so much more I could say, but Panhellenic Greek life needs to do better. Stop protecting racism with blanket statements of tradition or legacy. Address the systematic oppression happening. There are progressive greek life chapters all around the country, I’m sure there are a plethora of resources at Panhellenics fingertips if they really want this system to change."