The Interfraternity Council is planning to add a diversity chair to their executive committee, similar to the position created by the Panhellenic Council earlier this semester.
This comes after an incident at Phi Gamma Delta, commonly known as FIJI, when a member who named his beer pong team “VietPong” received backlash from the Asian community at Penn.
“We’re still figuring out what the responsibilities would be and how it will work, but after the FIJI incident we are looking towards accelerating the introduction of a diversity chair position,” IFC President and College junior Bradley Freeman said.
Freeman also said the IFC is planning on recording member attendance at the sensitivity presentations that fraternities are required to attend after recruitment, and making them public in order to encourage a sense of cultural and social responsibility within chapters.
“It’s always been a priority of the IFC to get that education,” Freeman said. “One of the things I ran on when becoming IFC president was to promote accountability for chapters. We want to make sure chapters are held accountable for their actions. Student bodies have the right to know ‘Chapter X’ showed up if they had the chance to attend the programming and get the education.”
However, some affiliated students feel that education is not the only solution to solving the problem of cultural insensitivity within Greek life. President of the Intercultural Greek Council and College junior Angie Wang says the issue has deeper roots.
“I think, on a base level, that there is a societal norm especially in Greek life to tolerate these acts. What it comes down to is that a cultural shift needs to happen in groups,” Wang said. “People are hesitant to speak up when things like this happen. We should be finding a way to promote and foster that sort of culture to speak up.”
College senior and member of Delta Psi — also known as St. Anthony Hall — Carter Lewis added that greater discussion between chapters and members in Greek life is necessary in order to encourage cultural awareness.
“The more you can get frats to talk to each other and have a sit down discussion, people learn from it,” Lewis said. “You know you can’t just call yourself ‘VietPong.’ The issue is larger than offending minority groups. It reflects poorly on the school.”
Lewis also noted the levels of diversity within Greek life as one of the reasons for a general lack of understanding of what is culturally appropriate. He added that encouraging diverse recruitment during the rush season could be a potential solution.
“Penn is a very diverse school, but Greek life tends to be the same kind of people. You see the same exact type of kids getting recruited by the same frats,” Lewis said. “But if there was a way to make sure that you are not excluding anybody early on then what will happen is that you’ll have different types of kids, different types of personalities and different types of backgrounds. I think that would help.”
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