Open Letter to the Community
Inclusion Statement 2023
To Our Community,
We as the UCSB Panhellenic executive council and 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, transphobia, 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.
Last year, we as the UCSB Panhellenic executive council and chapters created a list of action items that we are committed to upholding, specifically in areas of education, leadership, accountability, membership, recruitment, and inclusivity. We seek to reaffirm our previous action items and contribute additional ones in order to promote further growth in our communities and organizations. The following list 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 have already begun hosting and attending educational based events within our chapters and on campus to educate our members on issues of race, gender, class, and other pertinent matters, and we commit to continuing this education. This includes, but is not limited to: hosting roundtable discussions for members to share their voice, attending on campus events such as speakers or panels, viewing educational films and documentaries, hosting book clubs and engaging in educational literature, and planning education-based sisterhood events.
We recognize that the history of our organizations are rooted in white supremacy, originally being places designed only for white women. We have included this aspect of our history 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. Our new members continue to be educated on the weaknesses in our organizations’ history in addition to our strengths, including our history of white supremacy and exclusion. We also feel our new members should be educated on the history of sorority women as activists, including the larger political context of Panhellenic sororities throughout history and how we can continue to further that legacy.
We recognize that a large population of our community is still straight, cisgender white women, so we seek to educate our chapters on the experiences of those with diverse identities and to amplify the voices of the minorities within our communities. We commit to inspiring educational chapter programming about these experiences, and promoting productive discourse within the community to address the implicit biases many people hold and help create a greater sense of community.
We understand that the best way to prevent further instances of racism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of discrimination is education, so if these issues arise, we commit to encouraging education for the perpetrators in addition to the pre-established measures for holding our members accountable.
As of the 2022 term, the Panhellenic Executive Board 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. The VP Education works to cultivate a community of engaged and involved members and provide them tools for civic engagement and community building, as well as encouraging collaboration between Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion chairs with chapter executive boards in all aspects of chapter operations.
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, and are heavily involved with the recruitment teams during the recruitment process.
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 continue to work to make sure our members are educated on this process and feel comfortable reporting an incident without fear of retaliation.
We as the Panhellenic chapters feel it is important to stand in solidarity and take a stand against inappropriate actions of chapters within our council and in other councils (IFC, USFC, NPHC, and PFC), as well as other campus organizations such as sports teams and other clubs. If a chapter has allegations against them related to racism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other issues impacting member safety, we believe each of our chapters should commit to not hosting social events with them until the incident has been addressed and measures for accountability 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 and will refer affected members to the relevant on-campus resources to ensure they are properly supported. The Greek councils continue to work on educating our members on these resources and making students more aware of them. 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, the National Pan-Hellenic 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. In order to combat this, the Panhellenic executive council has established a scholarship fund that provides need-based aid on a quarterly basis to members of the Panhellenic community. Our chapters all also have local scholarship funds, payment plans, and/or other financial accommodation systems in place to help minimize the impact of this burden on members. Furthermore, we commit to exploring opportunities to contribute to the FSL Endowment Fund at UC Santa Barbara to increase the amount of aid we are able to provide for our members in the future.
Another mechanism of financial discrimination occurs 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. Currently, a number of our chapters have eliminated fining entirely, and the remainder of our chapters are beginning to move away from using fines as an accountability mechanism.
Certain events our organizations partake in often have themes in which members are encouraged to dress in accordance with. We as a community commit to only planning and attending events with themes that are not racially charged or culturally appropriative. We continue to 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, and we will encourage education throughout the community to prevent these incidents from occurring again.
We as a Panhellenic community encourage chapters to recognize all religious holidays and have committed to avoid planning mandatory events on religious holidays. In addition, the Panhellenic executive council has created a DEI calendar of religious holidays and awareness days and shared it within the community in order to ensure that all chapters are aware of these dates and easily able to avoid scheduling issues. No member of our community should have to choose between attending a Panhellenic event or practicing their religious beliefs, so we as a community are working to prevent members from being put in uncomfortable situations that would force them to do so.
We recognize that in addition to efforts taken by our organizations, individual initiatives are also valuable. We continue to encourage our members to take individual action outside of their chapter to support anti-racism and other important causes, and commit to amplifying these efforts to the community. We also continue to 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, register to vote, 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 have been updated to reflect more gender neutral terms.
Our chapters do not require active members to have certain hair styles or colors for recruitment in acknowledgement of the discriminatory effects that this practice may have as well as its role in promoting Eurocentric beauty standards. We also do not require active members to do certain styles of makeup, wear specific accessories including styles or colors of jewelry, or have their nails done for recruitment.
Our chapters continue 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 also continue to encourage less gender and garment specific clothing requirements in order to allow non female identifying members the opportunity to dress in a way that aligns better with their identity. Heels, dresses, or skirts must never be a requirement for any round of recruitment.
We continue to be intentional about preventing harmful practices that can occur during recruitment including but not limited to tokenism, micro-aggressions, implicit bias, 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, providing advantages to white women and disadvantages to 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 (PNMs) from submitting letters of recommendation and feel there is no need to do so because they add no value to our recruitment process.
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 do not have chapters on this campus) who have chosen to take that important step, including all NPC organizations on our campus. We encourage other NPC organizations to follow in the footsteps of their sister sororities..
In addition to the items outlined above, each 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 recognize that creating diversity is an ongoing process, and it is important that we continue working toward equitable and inclusive spaces; Diversity follows equitability and inclusivity, so we as a community are working to foster this environment in our chapters. We commit to continuing this conversation and these efforts to work to become better than we were when we started.
With Panhellenic Love,
Kylie Maeda, Collegiate Panhellenic Council President
Chloe DeVere, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Operations
Leila Nourmand, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Education
Megan Wagner, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Recruitment External
Emma Meyer, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Recruitment Internal
Leili Delorme, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Programming
Emma Whaley, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Vice President of Marketing
Kaylee Aguilar, Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ) Chapter President
Megan Sloan, Alpha Delta Pi (AΔΠ) Chapter President
Kaitlyn Ridenour, Alpha Phi (AΦ) Chapter President
Jessica Reilly, Delta Gamma (ΔΓ) Chapter President
Julianne Braime, Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ) Chapter President
Ava Gurwitz, Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKΓ) Chapter President
Ellen Whitehead, Kappa Alpha Theta (KAΘ) Chapter President
Sofia Hillman, Phi Sigma Rho (ΦΣΡ) Chapter President
Paris Paz, Pi Beta Phi (ΠBΦ) Chapter President