by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2019-2021 NPC Chairman
We hear you and we are listening. Topics of diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and access have been an integral part of NPC’s strategic conversations, but the importance of these topics on college campuses and among our members have supported our need to shift from conversation to action. This work is not easy, and steering a ship with 26 member organization in it, each with different perspectives, sometimes may seem slow and awkward, but it is a challenge we are undertaking with sensitivity, humility and diligence.
As you may be aware, the NPC Board of Directors has appointed an NPC Access and Equity Advisory Committee, which will provide us with recommendations and guidance on increasing access to the sorority experience and equity across policies and procedures. This will include consideration of norms and practices that create barriers facing potential members based on racial identity, ethnicity, LGBTQ identity, religious beliefs, ability and socioeconomic status, among others. The committee’s work will complement efforts led at the NPC member organizational level regarding membership policies, programming and practices.
Committee members represent a range of identities – based on race, ethnicity, religion, age and ability – and also represent varied Greek-letter organizations. Their insights and perspectives will be critical as we make ours a community in which all women can engage as their full selves. View the committee announcement.
As this group begins its work, the Board of Directors and committee members will host a series of listening sessions in August with various NPC constituencies including College Panhellenic leaders, fraternity/sorority advisors, collegiate members and alumnae regarding access and equity. This is the first step in our journey to drive real change that reinforces the foundational values and strength of the Panhellenic experience.
In addition to the work of the committee, NPC has engaged the Cross-Cultural Fraternal Advising Institute Collaborative team to facilitate a virtual education session for collegiate sorority members titled “Cultivating a More Inclusive Recruitment Experience and Addressing Implicit Bias.” More than 470 participants are now better positioned to act with integrity across all aspects of membership growth, development and experiences. Soon, we will share the recording and a resource guide with all College Panhellenics so those who could not attend live will have the opportunity to benefit.
NPC leadership will also continue to engage with experts in the field of diversity, equity, inclusion and access to increase their knowledge of DEI factors and set a common language and framework for NPC’s DEI initiatives.
Moreover, NPC will continue to engage its other advisory groups – the Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Advisory Committee and the Student Advisory Committee – to provide their input and feedback related to NPC’s actions regarding diversity, equity, inclusion and access.
To report on the progress of NPC’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including the work of the Access and Equity Advisory Committee, a new page has been added to our website.
As we continue our work in creating greater equity within and access to the sorority experience, difficult and meaningful conversations are taking place and new resources are being developed for our College Panhellenics. It is important work that will assist us in confronting racism and considering the structural and systemic reasons that too many women do not view our organizations as places where they feel welcomed, understood or heard.
During a conversation the Board of Directors had with Syreeta Greene, MSW, Ed.D., director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Multicultural Affairs, Midwestern State University, she stated, “The road to diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey not a destination.” NPC is committed to that journey.
What Sorority Means to Me
Sororities have always been a place for women to gather, build friendships, support academic pursuits, develop leaders and provide a sense of belonging. As the needs of women have changed, sorority has adapted to fit those needs. Today, while class instruction and the sorority experience may look and feel different on many campuses due to COVID-19, sorority is adapting to provide these benefits and the opportunity for real, personal connections through a virtual experience. Through it all, sisterhood and the benefits of the sorority experience remain.
Here are some of those benefits as voiced by collegiate members:
“My sorority helped me turn my college campus into a place that I can call home. These women started as strangers and are now some of my closest friends in the world. And, I know I can look to them to help in every aspect of my life – from academics to life advice.”
– Patricia, Tulane University (in a Her Campus/TheSororityLife.com Instagram story video)
“One of the things that I have loved most about being in my chapter has been the support system. More specifically, my sorority family has been my best support system … These women are always here for me when I’m feeling down, need advice or just want someone to talk to and have made me feel at home, while being so far from home.”
– Bridget, University of Tennessee-Knoxville (full story)
“I was worried about losing that connection with my sisters when we left campus (in spring 2020 due to the pandemic). But, I’ve found a new appreciation for our sisterhood. Sisterhood is in the little things. The texts, the FaceTime calls and the memories we create together make me that much more grateful to have my sisters in my life!”
– Bri, NPC intern for TheSororityLife.com (full story)