Diversity presentation sparks controversy within Panhellenic sororities

Delta Gamma was one of thirteen Panhellenic sororities that attended the presentation about diversity and inclusivity.
Jim Xu/Staff
Delta Gamma was one of thirteen Panhellenic sororities that attended the presentation about diversity and inclusivity.

Earlier this year, all members of UC Berkeley Panhellenic Greek life listened to a new presentation on diversity and inclusivity — topics left unaddressed in previous recruitment years.

The presentation, which was given to each of the 13 different Panhellenic chapters by members of the community’s overarching UC Berkeley Panhellenic Council, or PHC, led to an inter-Panhellenic dispute that former PHC president Summer Collins described as “the biggest issue we had to deal with internally, within (the) council.”

Jacqueline Bueno, former vice president of community development, created the slideshow for the presentation on diversity and inclusivity. She said, however, she was informed the morning before the presentation that her slides had been modified without her permission.

Check the slides below for the modifications of Bueno’s slides. The original slides are on the top, and the modified slides are below. 

lgbtq

“I was told it was a combination of wanting to save time on the presentation and it being ‘too strong,’ ” Bueno said.

The PHC established the vice president of community development role in 2016 to increase diversity and inclusivity in the Panhellenic community.

Bueno’s original presentation covered topics such as implicit bias, the LGBTQ+ community and racism. While the modified presentation addressed many of the same topics, some of the slides were altered by other PHC members, according to Bueno.

While rehearsing the presentation, Collins said, members of PHC found that the presentation would have taken closer to 45 minutes rather than the desired 20 minutes. The presentation was cut to be more “holistic” and “effective,” according to Collins.

Bueno’s original presentation included slides contrasting the “quiet and submissive” stereotype of Asian American women to the “outspoken” stereotype of women in Western culture. It is important to be aware of how biases like these can shape people’s interactions and can result in houses becoming racially segregated, Bueno said.

Michelle Cera, the 2016 vice president of community development, used the “scoring” and “matching” processes to demonstrate aspects of the recruitment process that can be influenced by implicit biases.

diversity_race_culture

Potential new members are expected to be matched with active members of the sorority based on similar interests, Cera said. Problems can arise, however, if they are paired on what appears to be solely a racial basis.

“During the year, I didn’t feel at peace. I still experienced time and time again people misunderstanding what I’m trying to push of a more racially inclusive process,” Bueno said. “The connections aren’t there.”

Kriya Wong, a member of Delta Delta Delta, said this year’s presentation provided a “good refresher” prior to recruitment. It also showed that PHC was attempting to standardize inclusion and diversity policies between the houses during recruitment, she said.

Bueno said she felt supported by people in Panhellenic Greek life before recruitment.

“But recruitment kind of showed the true colors of people,” Bueno said.

Nanita Balagopal, the incoming vice president of community development, said she plans to continue Bueno’s work but hopes to enforce harsher consequences for breaking the rules.

rrp

“My plan is very simple,” Balagopal said. “My plan is to be very transparent in the community and very firm with organizations who are breaking the rules.”

Although the road to increasing diversity in campus Greek life has not been the smoothest, it has begun addressing issues previously left undiscussed, Collins said.

The PHC recently implemented a guideline stating that “anyone with the spirit of a woman can go through recruitment” — a policy aimed at promoting the inclusion of transgender women, according to Collins.

Controversial invite and exchange party themes were also an issue PHC addressed. People occasionally migrate towards cultural appropriation when they try to get creative, according to Collins. The PHC worked with the campus Interfraternity Council to create a social code for party themes in response to this problem.

Balagopal said she has high hopes for the new national advisor who would be appointed this year.

“I made it extremely clear that my position (had) better be valued on this council,” Balagopal said. “My voice will be heard, and if it isn’t, I will go to great lengths to make sure it happens.”

Contact Alicia Kim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @aliciackim.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • we must learn to embrace diversity.

    http://www.coursesabroad.org

  • Trevor Sedis

    When will sororities, the YWCA, Healthworks, Wellesley, Girl Scouts, etc. admit equal numbers of men?

  • Trevor Sedis

    When will whites be included in black sororities and fraternities?

    When will whites be included in black dorms?

    When will “people of complaint” become “people of accomplishment”?

  • lspanker

    Many black students in college these days choose to self-segregate, so what’s the whining and crying about again?

    • GreekStratus

      There are fraternities for black men, and jewish men. Should they be forced into diversity?

      • Trevor Sedis

        Yes!

        Or they can STFU and learn to “live and let live.”

  • Jack Spencer

    To assume that Greeks need to be forciably lectured about this, is in itself offensive, and sterotyping.

    • GreekStratus

      Greek system member students are required to attend a wide variety of trainings, including alcohol safety, ethnic/gender awareness, and sexual consent in order to maintain recognition by the University. Students in other living accommodations are not required to sit through these sessions.

  • GreekStratus

    The Greek system is a traditional, socially driven residential community. The process of selecting members is based upon compatibility. The house as a group gets to pick it’s members, who will live together and share their college experiences. It’s a natural human instinct to want to gather with people who are like you. The members decide. Not the alumni, nor the national office, nor the University.

    While it’s politically correct to try and force diversity, it’s unfair to arbitrarily force people to accept incompatible individuals into a group living situation. The Greek system has come a long way from the segregationist past, and now members reflect a cross section of the demographics of exceptional students from California and the world. Many of the assumptions outsiders make about ethnic inclusiveness in the Greek system today are incorrect, unfair stereotyping.

    Lots of students hold deep beliefs and values that are religious in nature and contrary to the open gender society that is being foisted upon them. I like the idea of teaching about how to speak with respect to different groups, but we still get to pick our friends.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      Hit it on the head, but they do not care about others rights. They care about virtue signaling they are accepting to make themselves feel good without having to do anything at all.