In an effort to address discrimination against students from marginalized backgrounds within Stanford’s Panhellenic sororities, the Greek Life Diversity Coalition emerged earlier this year with the intent of promoting diversity within those organizations.
The coalition has so far worked to transform the rush process into a more comfortable and accessible event for people from underrepresented socioeconomic and ethnic communities. The coalition also encouraged Inter-Sorority Council (ISC) sororities to hold diversity training events before the start of the rush process and has held diversity office hours directed at prospective members of Greek life.
According to Jackie Fielder ’16, a member of Alpha Phi and one of the coalition’s founders, the idea for forming the coalition began after Fielder spoke on a diversity panel hosted by the ISC that addressed low-income students in Greek life.
“Even though I couldn’t relate to all the girls who had ethnic and racial issues within the Greek community, or to dealing with mental health challenges, I could relate with how isolated they felt in the Greek community,” Fielder said.
Fielder explained that she had previously considered deactivating because of the underrepresentation of students from marginalized communities as well as the lack of conversation regarding the issue.
“So much of my identity plays into what I do on a daily basis…and I [had] felt like the Greek system was not for me,” she said.
Fielder and Delta Delta Delta members Sierra Kaplan-Nelson ’16 and Jazlyn Patricio-Archer ’16 formed a Facebook group for the organization after the event. Since then, the group has grown to currently encompass approximately 40 members from various ISC sororities while garnering ISC support.
The coalition has largely focused on institutional procedures like rush, which the founders framed as a principal factor in establishing the Greek community’s identity. Patricio-Archer noted that even the content of questions asked during the rush process might discriminate against girls from marginalized backgrounds.
“If you are bonding with someone over what bracelets you are wearing or where you vacation, it’s all very geared towards bonding with someone of higher socioeconomic class,” Patricio-Archer said.
In addition to encouraging more sensitivity during the rush process, the group has advocated for each chapter to hold diversity training events – such as Crossing the Line – before the start of rush.
“It’d be great to get girls thinking about diversity within the chapter, what qualities really bond a chapter and making sure that those qualities are based on character traits and personality, and not on discriminating factors, like class and race,” Kaplan-Nelson said.
In the long run, the coalition will aim to implement an extensive scholarship scheme through the ISC to bridge the gap among multicultural, ethnic and ISC sororities, and to start working with Stanford’s fraternities to help them achieve the same goals.
Contact Silviana Ilcus at smci “at” stanford.edu.