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Credit: Jess Tan

The National Panhellenic Conference delayed a vote on whether the organization should change its definition of women to be more inclusive of nonbinary members.

The outcome of the vote, which was scheduled to take place last week, would amend the membership policies of the 26 national and international sorority organizations included in the National Panhellenic Conference, Inside Higher Ed reported. The meeting was postponed due to a need for “further research and consideration” to ensure all members understood the changes.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Panhellenic Conference Dani Weatherford told Inside Higher Ed that its current policy ensures transgender women are eligible for recruitment, and the organization will maintain communication with campus partners about recruitment eligibility. 

Historically, Panhellenic organizations, which represent nationwide chapters on college campuses, are known as women-only groups. This framework has been criticized by some as unwelcoming to the LGBTQ community. At Penn, some students have called for the abolition of Greek life due to reports of systemic classism, racism, and sexism. 

The sorority Delta Phi Epsilon has pioneered the movement to be inclusive of nonbinary members, Inside Higher Ed reported. The sorority has released an explicit inclusion policy for nonbinary members, ensuring that nonbinary members will be “included as members in all areas of the organization, provided that they accept and share in the collective values and experiences of the sisterhood.”

International Executive Director of Delta Phi Epsilon Nicole DeFeo told Inside Higher Ed she was disappointed by the news of the delay, and that the sorority is still determined to implement the change.

“We saw this as an opportunity for our voice, and voice of other groups who are interested in extending membership to other individuals, to be heard,” DeFeo said. “This was our chance to celebrate this. To hear it wasn’t ready was disappointing.”