An executive board of Greek life organization members issued a statement that encouraged Greek organizations to disband because of their non-inclusive past at Northwestern University.
The university’s Panhellenic Association (PHA), which oversees eleven chapters, published a statement about how the governing body “has failed its purpose of serving as an inclusive space meant to empower all women and non-binary people, and has continuously reaffirmed the patriarchy, binary gender roles, and heteronormativity.” The board’s statement claimed that the past conduct of Greek life organizations has done great “harm” and that the damage is “irreparable and no amount of apologies or reform can lead to restorative justice.” The statement pushed for abolition of all Greek life organizations at the private university, located in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Evanston.
This was not a sole blip on the radar for Northwestern’s Greek life organizations because over the summer, the PHA had been working during the summer to facilitate discussions on race and inclusion through its Instagram social media account.
The PHA acknowledged that the chapter members do not have to comply with their recommendation to disband all Greek life organizations. But as a gesture towards encouraging disbandment, the PHA said it will stop charging dues for chapters for recruitment, which is the sole financial responsibility that the PHA has control over. The PHA said that this was a move to highlight that they are “looking into ways that would prevent national Greek chapters from coming to campus to ‘recolonize.’”
In other words, running sororities and fraternities as female-only or male-only associations is allegedly discriminatory towards those of other professed genders. For example, the PHA consistently noted in its statement that the black and minority community, in addition to the non-binary genders, have been excluded from Greek life.
The disbandment move will come with significant consequences. The Greek life organizations typically incur kitchen and housing costs and require staff to maintain facilities, in addition to members of the Evans Scholars program who are employed by PHA organizations. Also, the PHA did not address how to fill the void of Greek life organizations, which have acted as a networking connection in the years after college graduation.