UC Berkeley Panhellenic Council must address diversity problems

CAMPUS ISSUES: The council needs to do more to resolve its lack of diversity.

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Kelly Baird/Staff

When the UC Berkeley Panhellenic Council, or PHC, waters down important presentations on equity and inclusion, it shows that it still doesn’t take diversity issues as seriously as it should.

Earlier this year, former PHC vice president of community development Jacqueline Bueno created a presentation that PHC members gave to each of the 13 different Panhellenic chapters on topics ranging from implicit bias and transphobia to sexism and racism. But the morning before the presentation, Bueno was informed that some members went in and modified the slides without her permission, in some cases removing important information about how to address inequality and interact with marginalized communities. This is unacceptable.

Here are just a few changes:

  • An original slide advised community members to be aware that the makeup of houses reveals that people of color are discriminated against in the Greek system. In the modified version, this point was deleted.
  • Another original slide stated that people should not assume that everyone shaves their legs or wears heels for events. In the modified version, this too was deleted.
  • One other original slide acknowledged that some chapter policies and social norms are heteronormative. In the modified version, this point was deleted.

These original slides are critical examples of how to use diversity education to improve the community — it’s on the council and other members of the Panhellenic community to call out specific instances of inequality and bias. The original presentation tried to do that, but members of the council shut it down. The council needs to learn to apply the presentation’s lessons and advice to the microaggressions that happen every day in Greek life.

Bueno said members argued that the original presentation’s subject matters were “too strong.” But sweeping these issues under the rug minimizes how prevalent they are, both in Greek life and on the UC Berkeley campus. The PHC has a responsibility to make sure that house members are being inclusive of others. In this case, it missed the mark.

The presentation shouldn’t have just been stronger — it should also be conducted more often. Members of PHC should review this presentation throughout the year, not only during recruitment. Issues relating to climate and diversity cannot just be solved in a 20-minute presentation, as was the ultimate result here.

PHC established the vice president of community development position in 2016 in the hopes of increasing diversity in the community. In the role, Bueno began an unprecedented undertaking to confront Piedmont Avenue’s diversity problem — the collection of data on the demographics of the Panhellenic community. With this preliminary data, hopefully the council will be able to make changes to improve its diversity. Clearly, the position is well-suited to bring badly needed change to the Greek system, but it won’t work if others continue to interfere with the office’s work.

Addressing the lack of diversity in Greek life will not happen overnight, and if PHC wants to have a conversation about diversity, it shouldn’t hold back.

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  • paxman
  • Tim

    “Heteronormative policies?!?!” Call the attorney general! Call the governor! SHUT. IT. DOWN.

  • Grady

    I think the problem of diversity is ‘diversity’ itself. It is an unnecessary burden placed on already overburdened companies and organizations to follow arbitrary rules and regulations of including people that contend they are different and must be included regardless of cost or inconvenience to others. My suggestion is to ignore all of the complaints, offer them a suggestion box and tell them to move on. Life is tough enough without having to pander to the whiners.

  • Left Unsaid

    Targetted harrassment. The frats should sue the U.

  • paxman

    The responses to this article are a perfect example of why the Greek system should have no official relationship with the university. The Greeks suffer from systemic racism. Period.

    • zzz
      • paxman

        Hmmmm. Not very articulate, are you?

        • lspanker

          Being articulate isn’t an asset if you have nothing of intellectual substance to add to the discussion. In fact, it can be a liability, as can be seen here as you make an eejit of yourself in a public forum…

          • paxman

            LoL… I simply have no desire to have an intellectual argument with an unarmed person. Happy holidays, I hope you get that “Atlas Shrugged” tchotchke you asked your parents to give you.

          • lspanker

            LoL… I simply have no desire to have an intellectual argument with an unarmed person.

            You haven’t demonstrated any ability to even engage in an argument, you silly child. You just started throwing around accusations of racism, the pathetic tactic of butt-hurt snowflakes who can’t win others over to their point of view using logic or reason.

          • zzz

            The world is made up of people who read Atlas Shrugged or Howard Zinn, there are no other parts of the spectrum.

          • Nunya Beeswax

            Really? I’m not terribly interested in either.

          • zzz

            That seems to be paxmans world view, myself a huge fan of the philosophy of Spiro Agnew.

    • lspanker

      Your response is a perfect example of why nobody should take seriously any comments from an intellectual lightweight such as yourself.

    • Grady

      BS!

    • John Hudson

      What business is it of yours? These are private associations and the First Amendment guarantees the right to associate with whoever you want and who is willing to associate with you.

      • paxman

        The University is a public institution, you racist, half-witted, sub-human, snowflake; that makes it my business. When you insist on establishing your own local chapter of the KKK, you don’t get to whine when the general population shuns you.

        • John Hudson

          The fact that the University is a public institution is irrelevant. The Greek system is entirely private. Many have bought and paid for the houses they occupy, all without public assistance. Why do you have to make this personal? Are you incapable of rational argument?

          • paxman

            What part of “Greek system should have no official relationship with the university” don’t you understand. I don’t care who owns the houses or who they allow to associate, the key you simply refuse to acknowledge is the relationship between racist organizations and the University of California. No relationship, no problem. If there if an official relationship than the organizations must comply with Constitutional requirements. Is this really so difficult to understand or are you so deeply invested in your “beliefs” that you’re unwilling to make the cognitive leap? I’m done here. The derp is way too deep.

          • John Hudson

            You sure are emotional. As I pointed out, fraternities and sororities are private organizations. The University tries to control them through the panhellenic council or similar umbrella group, but that doesn’t change the fact that fraternities and sororities are private organizations that conduct their activities on private property. The fact that the University tries to control them does not create any “relationship” between the Greek houses and the University. Any attempt to forcibly “diversify” these private associations is a violation of the members’ Constitutional rights.

    • paxman
  • That Guy

    They just implementing the “New Tribalism” and really don’t have time to waste on SJW BS powerpoints.

  • rychastings

    because “diversity” (affirmative discrimination) totally is the same thing as merit

  • Grady

    I think many of you take yourselves way too seriously. Relax, unwind, let it happen. I don’t care for hairy legs on women. It makes them look like they are too lazy to shave their legs. I’m not (fill in the blank) phobic I just think many of the people claiming they are unique are just seeking attention. Want attention? Take a selfie.

  • lspanker

    This would be laughable except many of those screaming the loudest advocate “safe spaces” for people who look like them…

  • Alex S.

    “the microaggressions that happen every day in Greek life”

    For those microaggressions, I hope that the PHC issues a most sincere microapology.

    • Grady

      Micro kudos to you!!!

  • Killer Marmot

    Could it be that whites are more interested in Greek culture than most minorities?

    The case for diversity is that people of different backgrounds view that world differently. Well don’t be surprized when people with different viewpoints have different preferences.

    • zzz

      I was thinking about joining the Nation of Islam but decided it wasn’t for me.

      • paxman

        Sounds like you’d be far more comfortable in a white sheet.

        • zzz

          Why do stupid people feel the need to have an opinion?

          • paxman

            No, you’ve displayed in painful detail all your master has taught you already: Roll over, play dead, etc. Frankly, I’m not impressed.

          • lspanker

            Think anyone’s impressed with you? You’re probably some AA/diversity admit majoring in some victim study/grievance major, and pushing the edge of your own intellectual envelope in trying to keep up with everyone else here, hence your indignation that others dare make comments for which you have no ready witty reply…

          • zzz

            I was certainly hoping to impress someone who rants about white sheets in such a idiotic manner.

          • lspanker

            Why do stupid people feel the need to have an opinion?

            There’s an old expression:“A wise man speaks up because he has something to say. A fool speaks up because he has to say something.” Clearly paxman had to say SOMETHING…

        • lspanker

          Sounds like you’d be far more comfortable in one of those “safe spaces” where you’re given free rein to yell and cry and scream about others, without them having an equal chance to reply. You’re incapable of making your point in an intelligent manner, and had to resort to calling someone a “racist” because you can’t win the argument otherwise.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    I have little love for the Greek system, but it seems to me that the members of a private organization have a right to determine who they wish to be associated with. I would hope that if the members of a frat or sorority turn out to be bigots, the rest of the university community would shun or marginalize that organization.

    Nevertheless, pulling that trick on Jacqueline Bueno was shabby. You don’t invite someone to speak and then dictate the content of what they’re allowed to say.

    • lspanker

      You don’t invite someone to speak and then dictate the content of what they’re allowed to say.

      True, but what else can you expect from the Perpetually Offended? It’s not like many of them have the type of intellectual tools to hold their own in an open discussion of ideas…