Panhellenic sororities commit to boosting diversity

Kassidy Knight

University Panhellenic Council is not unfamiliar with the glaring fact that most Greek organizations, excluding culturally-based groups, lack diversity. We also know that Greek organizations — more specifically, Panhellenic organizations — were not founded on exclusionist principles. Panhellenic sororities were created as a safe place for collegiate women to gather in founding principles such as service, academics and deep friendship. For reference, University Panhellenic Council is the governing body of 14 sororities on campus that all belong to the National Panhellenic Conference.

Our council is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to address this lack of diversity publicly and would like to share with you some of the solutions we are currently pursuing at UT. We have a great responsibility both to the University and to the Panhellenic community to increase diversity in our organizations. Our Panhellenic Creed states that we will “[serve], to the best of our ability, our college community.” At our very first Executive Board meeting of the year, we chose to step up and make diversity a priority in our council’s activities and policies throughout the year. Without an open door to our community, we are missing out on so many incredible potential members and will never reach our full potential. 

Undergraduate women must participate in formal recruitment in order to join a Panhellenic sorority. Our chapters can only be as diverse as the women who participate in this process. It is our job to seek out these women, show them the opportunities Greek life has to offer and encourage them to join. If our council can increase diversity in recruitment, our chapters will be able to expand their membership as well. Prior to formal recruitment this year, we spent months training our recruitment counselors to be inviting and encouraging to all women looking to join a Panhellenic sorority. We shared with them our goal of increasing diversity in recruitment and wanted them to serve as mentors for women who may not know much about the Greek community. Our council also travels to high schools around Texas to encourage high school seniors to participate in formal recruitment, making our process more available to students. We want to explain the benefits of Greek life to women who may not know any
Panhellenic alumnae. 

Another concrete step we take to make Panhellenic membership more accessible is offering scholarships. In 2015 alone, we offered $11,000 in scholarship funds to women so they can pay their chapter dues and continue their membership. We also look for alumnae and national organization scholarships around the state and country to offer to our members. 

Despite these efforts to make our community a diverse and open environment, we still have work to do — locally and nationally. We will be in contact with our national delegates to continue finding and implementing solutions. As the largest women’s organization on campus, and one of the largest Panhellenic organizations in the country, we want to set an example for others to follow. We know that national change can be slow-paced, but conversation and action that follows is
incredibly important. 

Differences spark discussion, learning and empathy on our campus. This is why diversity is so important to University Panhellenic Council and why we will put forth every effort to make our community open and inclusive. It is time we bring our founding principles into the present and help our chapters adapt and grow to better represent a generation of diversity.

Knight is a computer engineering senior from Haslet. She is the president of University Panhellenic Council.