Greetings, fraternity and sorority leaders:
We send this email to acknowledge the violent anti-Blackness and hate that have taken the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, George Floyd, Chris Beaty, Mike Ramos, David McAtee, James Scurlock, and Dion Johnson among too many others. We’ve posted information and statements on social media stating that Black Lives Matter. That includes sharing and affirming our support of the message of solidarity shared by the Office of the Vice President of Diversity. We’ve also included opportunities to engage and suggestions for action. Those posts will continue, and we reaffirm that social justice must be central and integral to the ways we live our fraternity and sorority values. In this case, that specifically calls us to engage in anti-racist work and deeply interrogate all systems, specifically the system of fraternity and sorority life within which we operate.
We also write today to share a webpage that that provides social justice inclusion resources for fraternities and sororities. This webpage (that has been added under resources on our website) is a work in progress. It is a living and breathing opportunity to provide resources for continued learning and suggestions for action for members across our community. With that said, we welcome feedback about the page as well suggestions for what should be included, and encourage you to reply to this message or work with your chapter liaison (or any staff) to share that feedback. While sharing a resource may help some chapters and individual leaders engage in learning, challenge, and change, we can’t share a resource without acknowledging the real harm and pain felt by Black and African American members of our community. We also cannot send this message without acknowledging the history of racial trauma perpetuated by historically white fraternities and sororities.
We hope that all members of our community engage in efforts to learn and activate, including OFSL staff. This requires individual and institutional level work and commitments. Those include:
· Continually evaluating our programs, initiatives, and physical space to disrupt anti-Blackness.
· Challenging one another and examining policies and procedures that perpetuate systems built upon whiteness.
· Being accountable, listening, and removing barriers for marginalized students to have a fraternity/sorority experience and one that is affirming and free from oppression.
· Allocate our resources to center social justice and anti-racism (and encouraging governing councils and Programming Board to do the same).
· Work as a staff to learn about and address our own internalized biases and oppressive beliefs and attitudes (and encourage students in our community to do the same).
As we’ve said in statements in the past, this is ongoing, long-term, absolutely essential work in which we must remain engaged. This past year opportunities were created for our community to engage in community and individual discussion and reflections around racism in the fraternity and sorority context, specifically when Lawrence Ross visited our campus to deliver his keynote and in the many conversations that ensued. We have a lot of work to do. Please do this work with us.
-Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life