Open Letter to the Community
To Our Community,
We as the UCSB Panhellenic chapters wish to recognize our history and privilege, as well as our dedication to continued learning and improvement.
Panhellenic sororities across the nation were initially founded as a space for white women of high socioeconomic status, thus barring the membership of any individual who did not fit this criteria. We recognize that there are traces of these biases and exclusionary practices present at the root of our organizations and that still pervade in our modern day practices. We as the UCSB Panhellenic chapters take a strong stance against these prejudiced ideologies and recognize that there is continued work to be done in order to make our Panhellenic community an inclusive space.
We are continuing to educate ourselves on our privilege and issues of racism, classism, homophobia, religious intolerance etc., as well as taking steps to combat the way in which these ideologies have manifested in our organizations. We move forward with the intent to not only educate our current members, but to recruit new members who are eager to take these steps with us, and are passionate about continuing this conversation and work.
This work will not end anytime soon and will continue to be a priority for our chapters for many years to come. We hope for a future in which systemic oppression is eradicated from our organizations.
The following list of action items is what we as the UCSB Panhellenic chapters are committed to upholding:
We recognize that educating ourselves and our members is an important first step. We commit to hosting and attending more educational based events within our chapters and on campus so our members can become educated on issues of race, gender, class, and other pertinent matters. This includes, but is not limited to: viewing educational documentaries, hosting book clubs and engaging in educational literature, hosting roundtable discussions for members to share their voice, and attending on campus events such as speakers or panels.
We recognize that the history of our organizations are rooted in white supremacy, originally being places designed only for white women. We feel this aspect of our history should be included in our new member education to help further educate our future members and make sure the discussion of race in our organizations continues past our time as undergraduates. We feel our new members should be educated on the weaknesses in our organizations’ history in addition to our strengths. This includes our history of white supremacy and exclusion. We also feel our new members should be educated on the history of sorority women as activists. This includes the larger political context of Panhellenic sororities throughout history and how we can continue to further that legacy.
As of the 2022 term, the Panhellenic Executive Board has appointed a new position entitled Vice President of Education with the intent to designate a position dedicated to the promotion of the ideals and principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion along with cultivating a community of engaged and involved members and provide them tools for civic engagement.
Each individual chapter has installed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair as of fall 2020. This position serves to facilitate chapter-wide conversations about DEI initiatives and focus on specific areas of growth for that chapter. DEI Chairs hold regularly scheduled roundtable meetings chaired by the VP Education in order to share ideas and plan programming events.
We recognize that if a bias incident or inappropriate behavior were to occur in our organizations, it is imperative that they are taken extremely seriously and handled diligently. We agree to use our organizational judicial processes to address bias and racism. We will work to make sure our members are educated on this process and feel comfortable reporting an incident without fear of retaliation. When necessary, we will encourage our members to report the incident to the University’s Bias Incident Report Form.
We as the Panhellenic chapters feel it is important to stand in solidarity and take a stand against inappropriate actions of chapters in other councils (IFC USFC, and PFC), as well as other campus organizations such as sports teams and other clubs. If a chapter has a racist, homophobic, or other allegation against them, we believe each of our chapters should commit to not socializing with them until the incident has been addressed and appropriate outcomes have been implemented. We will empower our members to report bias incidents they may witness in the other councils to the University's Bias Incident Report Form. The Greek councils are continuing to work on educating our members on this resource and making students more aware of it. Incidents or issues witnessed by chapter members or chapter leadership can also be brought to the attention of the Collegiate Panhellenic Council, the Inter Fraternity Council, the United Sorority & Fraternity Council, and the Professional Fraternity Council as necessary.
We recognize that there are many financial burdens placed on our members which have discriminatory effects and limit access to our organizations. One of the ways this occurs is through monetary fining systems present in our organizations for attendance, especially for Ritual Events. We believe our organizations should work to change the rhetoric around attendance and events in order to shift away from a fining system. We feel alternative systems to fining members should be established in a way that still encourages attendance and engagement in our organizations by our members. We also feel that important events, such as Ritual, should be shortened when possible, in accordance with our Inter/National Organizations guidelines, to help shift away from fining and to prevent taking our members away from work and other commitments longer than necessary.
Certain events our organizations partake in often have themes in which members are encouraged to dress to a theme. We wish to state that we will only plan themes that are not racially charged or culturally appropriated. We will be cautious in looking through a cultural lens to make sure the themes and outfits associated with an event are not perpetuating any cultural or offensive stereotypes or discriminatory in any way. If any of these things do occur, incidents should be reported to the respective councils.
We as a Panhellenic community encourage chapters to recognize all religious holidays. We have committed to avoid planning mandatory events on religious holidays. No member of our community should have to choose between attending a Panhellenic event or practicing their religious beliefs.
We recognize that in addition to efforts taken by our organizations, individual initiatives are also valuable. We will encourage our members to take individual action outside of their chapter to support anti-racism and other important causes. We will encourage advocacy in many avenues whether it be online, in person, locally, nationally, on-campus, or off-campus. This includes but is not limited to: encouraging our members to sign petitions, contact legislators and public officials, and take extra steps to educate themselves.
Eligibility to register for Panhellenic formal recruitment has historically been for female-identifying students only. Effective since May 2022, UCSB Panhellenic chapters voted that non-male identifying students are eligible to participate in formal recruitment. While more work needs to be done to allow non-binary students to feel more included once joining our community, this change in language is an important step in recognizing the spectrum of gender identity. Additionally, UCSB Panhellenic governing documents are in the process of being updated to reflect more gender neutral terms.
Our chapters should not require active members to have certain hair styles for recruitment, acknowledging the discriminatory effects that practice may have as well as its role in promoting Eurocentric beauty standards.
Our chapters should work to make clothing requirements for active members during recruitment as accessible as possible so members do not have to purchase clothing in an attempt to limit any unnecessary financial burdens put on chapter members.
We will be intentional about preventing harmful practices that can occur during recruitment including but not limited to tokenism, microaggressions, and matching.
While letters of recommendation have not historically been prominently used in our community, we recognize that the existence of this system has discriminatory effects which privilege those who have historically been allowed to join Panhellenic sororities and have had greater access to institutions of higher education. These practices can have racist effects, advantagening white women and disadvantaged women of color. In 2020, The National Panhellenic Conference that governs all Panhellenic chapters instituted a policy that states that College Panhellenics cannot state that letters of recommendation are required for participation in the sorority recruitment process. In an effort to promote more inclusivity in our organizations and minimize barriers to joining, we as the UCSB Panhellenic chapters strongly discourage Potential New Members from submitting letters of recommendation and feel there is no need to do so because they add no value to our recruitment process. PNMs do not need to submit them to have a successful recruitment.
Similar to letters of recommendation, legacy treatment puts those who have historically had access to join our organizations at an advantage. By treating legacies, those who have relatives in our organizations, differently than non-legacies during recruitment, there are discriminatory effects on women of color and first generation college students who may not have a history in Panhellenic sororities. In an effort to promote more inclusivity in our organizations and minimize barriers to joining, we as the UCSB Panhellenic chapters support the Panhellenic Council’s decision to stop collecting legacy information by removing the legacy reporting feature from our recruitment registration form effective September 1, 2020. Several of our national organizations have already made the decision to stop legacy treatment nationally or leave it up to the discretion of each chapter. We wish to show support for the national organizations (including those who don’t have chapters on this campus) who have chosen to take that important step. The following NPC organizations on our campus have made that choice: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pi Beta Phi. We feel other NPC organizations should follow in the footsteps of their sister sororities and we are committed to championing this within our organizations.
In addition to the items outlined above, each respective chapter has engaged in their own initiatives to promote inclusivity. For more information, see the respective chapters' social media accounts.
Lastly, we wish to acknowledge that this letter is not exhaustive and there is always more work to be done. Fostering inclusivity in our organizations will remain an ongoing discussion and a priority for our organizations. We commit to continuing this conversation and these efforts to work to become better than we were.
With Panhellenic Love,
Vanessa Hill, Collegiate Panhellenic Council President
Tatiana Le, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Operations
Summer Spink, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Education
Alissa Villanueva, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Recruitment External
Clare Agustin, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Recruitment Internal
Samantha Wasserman, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Programming
Aimee Lenguyen, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Marketing
Amelia Kao, Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ) Chapter President
Alexandra Kotsos, Alpha Delta Pi (AΔΠ) Chapter President
Natalie Stafford, Alpha Phi Chapter (AΦ) Chapter President
Emily Segale, Delta Gamma (DΓ) Chapter President
Ria Bierling, Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ) Chapter President
Kelcee Greer, Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKΓ) Chapter President
Sydney Sullivan, Kappa Alpha Theta (KAΘ) Chapter President
Raven Grinker, Phi Sigma Rho (ΦΣΡ) Chapter President
Brittney Rogers, Pi Beta Phi (ΠBΦ) Chapter President
Inclusion Statement 2022
It is an unfortunate fact that some individuals become targets of hateful acts simply because others are intolerant of differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, age, or disability. These acts have no place in our Greek community. The UCSB Panhellenic, Interfraternity, and United Sorority & Fraternity Councils strive to maintain an environment that is welcoming and safe for every member of our community. In the event that a hate crime or incident does occur, UCSB’s Bias Incident Response Team provides assistance to the impacted parties. All councils are working hard to become better and strive to make the Greek community more safe and inclusive. In an effort to promote a more inclusive environment and provide tools to better ourselves, we wish to use our platform to promote this important resource that not many students know about.
How to report an incident
This link below will take you to the Campus Climate page where you can report anonymously or by name. Follow the prompts and submit the report. Once you submit a detailed report, the response team will present you multiple options on how to go forward and you can decide what you think is best.