"In 2013, I was one of the few black women to go through fall recruitment as a sophomore. I had several friends from my freshman year already a part of Panhellenic, and I was assured it would be a great experience.

 

I'll never forget the feeling of walking into Tate and having the all these eyes burning into the back of my head as if to say, "what are YOU doing here?" As recruitment proceeded, I would get call backs from some houses others would be dropped from, and the most common refrain I kept getting was, "Wow, I can't believe KD called you back. Oh, you got AOII again? I can't believe you got ZTA and I didn't, etc." While it may be easy to dismiss those comments because those women weren't in sororities yet, I do feel it's important to call out because they are just a representative sample of the women Panhellenic is choosing to be a part of their organizations and shape their culture.

 

As for direct examples of overt racism from the houses during rush, everyone knew that each house had their own ways of signaling which girls they really wanted vs the girls they would never offer a bid. I can't explain to you how demeaning it feels to hear they'll be lining girls up in front of a house in a "random" order - only to find all the black and POC women in the back. Or what it feels like to enter a house and be put into the "overflow room" with all the girls they deemed as not as important to be in the main room (this specifically happened at Pi Phi) where you couldn't even hear the girls announce/sing/whatever it was and you just had to wait for someone to notice you were still there and pick you up. Or what it's like to be in the "tornado" or whatever the term was at Chi O and they're pulling girls left and right and you're confused and alone in just a matter of seconds.

 

However, the most egregious example of racism was with Zeta. As I mentioned earlier, I knew several girls prior to recruitment, mostly in AOII, Zeta, AXO and Gamma Phi and I had a feeling I would end up at one of those. The day before prefs, I remember being at Zeta and there was a moment where I was essentially told, "see you soon" - but the morning of prefs when I saw my 3 houses for the day, Zeta was not one of them. I was initially surprised, but not completely disappointed because at that point I thought I belonged elsewhere. It wasn't until after bid day that I saw a friend from Zeta at an event and she said, "I'm so sorry" and I was confused as to why. It was only later that I learned that their alumni had essentially threatened to cut their funding if they were to extend a bid to me, a black woman. Many of my friends in the sorority who actually knew what happened couldn't even look me in the face for months afterwards and even apologized. One of my friends in their chapter actually dropped out of the sorority partially because she refused to stand for it. There were times when I would be with a girl from the pledge class above me in Zeta and she would say, "we wanted you SOOOO badly, I'm so sad we lost you to AOII!" and they obviously didn't know the true story. Finding out after the fact what happened was an illuminating experience as I became privy to the systemic racism in that chapter that so many of them were blind to. And I didn't want to burst their bubble that that was the kind of organization that they belonged to.

 

After rush was over and I had joined AOII, I had to read comments about myself online on some anonymous website called GreekRank saying, "AOII ruined a great sorority by adding that black girl" or "That pledge class looks great except for the ugly dark spot that ruins it", etc. Not to mention when some "old row" fraternities dropped AOII (SAE specifically comes to mind) from their social calendar because AOII now had a black woman, and many girls in my chapter were disappointed and upset because they always looked forward to those socials and my presence was changing things. When I would actually show up to a social, inevitably one of the (obviously white) guys would look at me and ask me who I knew or why I was there (I can specifically remember this happening at Fiji). Eventually, I just stopped going to the houses where I didn't feel welcome, and at the ones where I was somewhat welcomed - I was always known as "the Black AOII". There were socials with themes along the lines of "Cowboys and Gangstas" where we were supposed to dress like "thugs" if we were dressing up as a "gangsta". What does that even mean? Not to mention the whole literal racist notion of "Old South" from the old row fraternities. The entire construct of greek life was not built for women like me to be welcomed, and in hindsight I wonder why I even dealt with it. And I'm sure there are countless more experiences I've failed to recall.

 

I say all this to showcase that there is racism throughout the entire greek life ecosystem - from recruitment to within the chapters, to interacting with fraternities. It's the entire system. I like to think that things may have marginally gotten better after seeing several more black women join AOII since my time there, but that doesn't take away the systemic issues I'm sure that are still rampant throughout UGA's greek system today."