More than a year ago, the Panhellenic Association (PHA) created the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for all sorority chapters. While all chapters were required to implement this new position into their governing boards, guidelines about how to select these officials and what their positions would entail were left open to interpretation to each individual chapter.
Now, NBN checks in with Diversity and Inclusion chairs to discuss progress, goals and challenges.
Alpha Chi Omega
“Kimberly and I have put a lot of work into the D&I position this year, bringing in [Campus Inclusion and Community] staff for workshops, sending events and articles to the chapter, and leading dialogue sessions with members. We’ve had mostly positive feedback from our chapter, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, is that it’s going to take more than two people in each chapter to change our community. If Greek organizations and college campuses really want to become more inclusive, we’re going to need effort from every single member of our communities, alongside ongoing national support. It won’t be easy, but we have hope that this position can play a part in the movement towards greater inclusion across college campuses.”
Gamma Phi Beta
“Something special that Diversity and Inclusion does in Gamma Phi Beta is that we have a committee instead of a single chairperson/ director. I think this is really important because as the position and idea is so new, we wanted to have as many voices be heard and represented. Rather than have one person make all the decisions regarding D&I in our chapter we allow lots of ideas to be thrown around and scrutinized which allows for more collaboration and innovation for the role. Some things that we have started doing are a weekly newsletter to which members can contribute feature ideas (we just did one on Chelsea Handler’s new show and her episode about race).”
“It’s a super important position, especially in PHA sororities that have been historically white. I’ve started a Facebook clothing bank in Chi Omega, which is for sisters to upload photos of business clothes and formalwear for other sisters to borrow. When our formals roll around, we set up a clothing rack so sisters can borrow formalwear for one night instead of buying new clothes. A few times a quarter, we also have a Sustained-Dialogue-style discussion on various topics. The last one was about race and racism, while the next one will be on heteronormativity. Generally, the discussion focuses on how we, as a chapter, can continue to improve.”
“I think the most important thing for our chapter and for PHA as a whole is to adopt the idea that diversity and inclusion should be in our thought processes all the time. There is not a predetermined formula that will tell us, ‘if we do x, y, and z, then we’ll be ‘diverse’ and we can stop thinking about it’ or like ‘congratulations we did all of these things now we are officially ‘inclusive.’ It doesn’t work like that; it’s not a checklist. It’s a mindset and a way of thinking that we all have to adopt as individuals. And it’s important to know that that can be really challenging, because it has to come from a place of continual humility and empathy. It is certainly daunting, but I think it feels good to know that you are at least trying something.”