UC Berkeley Greek life community addresses diversity, COVID-19 concerns

Exterior shot of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity at UC Berkeley.
Kayla Baskevitch/File
In addition to implementing guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, UC Berkeley's Greek life community plans to take steps toward addressing diversity and inclusion.

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With the hybrid instruction system in place for the fall, members of UC Berkeley’s Greek system are making plans to cater to a primarily virtual Greek life experience.

The community is working on establishing guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, including decreasing the capacities of fraternity and sorority houses and holding all events virtually. Additionally, members of the Greek community are taking steps to address diversity within the houses.

ASUC Senator Julia Castro said she is working to increase focus on diversity and inclusion in Greek life in response to the recent Black Lives Matter movement. One way she hopes to do this is by decreasing financial barriers to joining the Greek community.

“Once we can really increase the financial accessibility of Greek life, only then can we really diversify our community and hopefully make positive steps forward towards accepting everybody regardless of their financial situation,” Castro said.

Within Delta Sigma, a sorority on campus, members have been discussing the impacts of current events as well as potential ways to improve diversity within the chapter, according to Christianne Harder, an adviser for Delta Sigma.

While the recruitment process for the fall is still in its planning stages, members of Delta Sigma have had conversations about their experiences with the recruitment process, addressing issues including experiencing microaggressions and being “tokenized” as part of an effort to improve diversity within recruitment, Harder added.

The chapter will also take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the fall. Delta Sigma, which normally houses about 50 students, will be limiting the house’s capacity to 32 students in the fall, according to Harder. Additionally, students living in the house will not be able to bring guests over.

To further mitigate the spread of the coronavirus within the Greek community, all activities will be held virtually, and the LEAD Center is encouraging the CalGreeks community to follow public health requirements, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

The root cause of a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases among students has been attributed to a large gathering that had some CalGreeks members present. Ratliff said the gathering was not associated with a campus fraternity or sorority, but Greek life members currently living in fraternity houses were exposed at the gathering.

This facilitated the secondary spread of the virus both within CalGreeks and the wider city community.

“This increase in cases should serve as a powerful reminder to practice basic safety measures including physical distancing, wearing a facial covering, avoiding large gatherings, not hosting indoor gatherings involving individuals outside your household,” Ratliff said in an email.

Ratliff added that recruitment activities for sororities and fraternities will be held virtually in the fall.

Contact Emma Rooholfada at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @erooholfada_dc.

A previous version of this article may have implied that it referred to the community of Greek UC Berkeley students.