A dozen sorority members disaffiliated today in an anonymous open letter in response to the growing discussions surrounding racism and discrimination in Greek Life.
The letter, written by three Alpha Phi women of color and signed in solidarity by nine white sorority members, calls for an end to Greek life at UR. The writers ask for groups in the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Association (PHA) to disband, for all students to boycott events by these organizations “both on and off campus,” and for all members of the UR community to fight to abolish UR’s Greek life. But they advocate for Multicultural Greek Council Organizations (MGCs) to continue to function, “as they are examples of inclusive, anti-racist, safe, and necessary spaces for people of color.”
The writers said they originally joined Greek life to be part of an “in-group” and “to find a welcoming community.” But, they wrote, while their identities were used to make the organizations appear more diverse, they themselves felt pushed to the sidelines. They describe these experiences as indicative of a history of racism, and explain how Greek Life segregated white students from students of color just as those students began attending primarily white institutions.
The letter claims that fraternities and sororities “exist on a systemic level to oppress people of color and foster sexual assault,” later adding that fraternity members are statistically more likely to commit rape, and sorority members statistically more likely to experience rape.
Additionally, the letter says that because Greek organizations are “gender-exclusive,” they discriminate against LGBTQ+ people whose gender identities and sexualities aren’t adequately welcomed or represented.
Finally, the letter says that high dues prevents low-income students from joining Greek life, and that the system of reserving spots for legacies is biased against first generation students and students of color, both of whom are less likely to have family in Greek life due to forms of discrimination previously listed.
The letter says that previous attempts at internal reform haven’t worked, and cite the still empty Director of Diversity and Inclusion position created by PHA after the “Hands Up” incident last spring.
“Four months after the initial incident, no one had applied out of 510 PHA sorority members,” they write. “The Panhellenic Executive Board had to extend the application deadline. One PHA sorority took over three months after the initial incident to even send out the position application to the chapter.”
The letter writers say that they tried to better their chapters, but have now decided that substantial reform is impossible, therefore leaving is the best option.
“It is clear that these national bodies are not qualified to decide what is fair and inclusive,” reads the letter, “nor had they ever before demonstrated any assurance of reform.”