The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

New Instagram account promotes Greek Life abolition at UR

<p>Screenshot of the account, @abolishrichmondgreeklife, on Instagram.</p>

Screenshot of the account, @abolishrichmondgreeklife, on Instagram.

Editor's Note: This story is about an Instagram account created on July 6. The account, @abolishrichmondgreeklife, requested to remain anonymous in its discussions with The Collegian for its safety. Honoring this request, The Collegian cannot confirm who operates the account. Additionally, The Collegian cannot verify who wrote the posts published on the account and the accuracy of the posts.

This article was updated because The Collegian was not able to get in contact with Kappa Alpha Theta president Lauren Halloran. The Collegian was not able to give her the opportunity to comment in time for this article's publication.

The current president of Kappa Kappa Gamma is a member of The Collegian’s staff. 

Confidential on-campus resources for survivors of sexual violence are CARE Advocates, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of the Chaplaincy and PSMAs, who are accessible through email and Zoom meetings during this time if desired. 

Non-confidential resources include the University of Richmond Policy Department, Title IX deputy coordinators, the Office of Common Ground and the Westhampton College and Richmond College deans’ offices.  


An Instagram account calling for the abolition of Interfraternity Council fraternities and Panhellenic Council sororities at the University of Richmond surfaced Monday evening and has posted more than 50 anonymous quotes about Greek Life. 

Three UR students created the account, Abolish Richmond Greek Life, according to direct messages sent to The Collegian by the account. 

“Our account uses a google form to allow students to anonymously share their experiences with us and, if we receive consent, we post their stories in an effort to amplify their voices and expose the harm the greek system is doing to POC and other marginalized individuals,” according to a direct message to The Collegian. “We have received messages of support from many students and alumni of [UR] on how this movement was [long-awaited.]” 

Some of the posts on the account came from anonymous sources with no affiliation to an IFC fraternity or Panhellenic sorority, others came from sources affiliated with IFC or Panhellenic. 

Multiple posts detail acts of sexual violence by unnamed members of Greek Life and a culture that silences survivors, which provides cover for people who commit sexual assault, according to posts published on the account.  

Other posts were critical of the UR administration and the Center for Student Involvement.

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In a post published on July 7 on the account, an anonymous, unaffiliated source wrote: “As a student involved with LGBTQ+ campus organizations, we have been constantly mistreated by CSI, to the point of being denied information about SOBAC until after the deadline, leading us complete without funds for next year. Meanwhile, Greek orgs have their own buildings, their own weekly parties that the whole school revolves around.” 

A large portion of the posts submitted to the account discuss the Panhellenic recruitment process.

One post published on July 8 from a source who participated in recruitment but did not join a sorority stated, “The forced structure and awkward[ness] of Panhel rush creates disingenuous and impersonal conversations which lets sororities judge them on a surface level because there is limited room to get to know them." 

Many UR students have taken notice, as the account had 1,216 followers at 10 a.m. on July 11, which is the time of this article's publication. Lucy Cummins, a rising senior who went through the recruitment process her first year, has been following the account closely, she said. 

Cummins chose not to join a sorority after a horrible recruitment experience, she said, but much of the content in the posts regarding sexual violence, demeaning recruitment processes and racism is not news to her nor her peers. 

“I’ve seen the term ‘open secret’ thrown around, which I think is pretty accurate to describe a lot of what’s coming up on the page,” she said. “It’s something that people were pretty aware of, at least most people that I know, but that just hasn’t been documented, because of … a lack of will from the administration, a lack of will from the student body, fear from the student body of being excluded from social life, that kind of thing.”

The posts are accurate of her experience going through Panhellenic recruitment, she said, and she saw the anti-Greek Life sentiment growing particularly after racist graffiti was found on three students' dorm room doors this past January.

“A lot of people were pretty aware that Greek Life was this kind of bastion of white privilege — white, straight, cis[gender], rich, privilege — on campus," Cummins said, “and that it was fairly representative of a lot of the social problems that we’ve had on campus for a long time. ... I do not think it can be reformed.”

Max Wallach, a rising junior, also said he did not believe that the Greek Life system could be reformed to a point of a “net neutral” or positive effect on campus. Wallach disaffiliated from his former fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, on July 9, he said. 

His decision, he said, was influenced by the new Instagram account. 

“I have a new sense of how wrong [Greek Life] is,” Wallach said. “I knew that there were problems with Greek Life, but there is this overwhelming sentiment in fraternities that: ‘Hey, we’re here to be better. We’re here to improve. We’re never going to be perfect.’ But ... we’re never even going to be net neutral.”

He’s had conversations this week with his fraternity brothers and friends about the structural issues of Greek Life, he said, but he was unsure if those he talked with would disaffiliate. 

“Based on what I’ve heard people say, I think people are already starting to think along the lines of, ‘the system can’t really be fixed,’” Wallach said. “I can't say that I know people will [disaffiliate]. I hope so, but … I think people have a choice to either go down with the ship or be on the right side of history in my mind. And I'm just not sure which decision people will make.”

According to the Abolish Richmond Greek Life account, the account has received more than 100 responses through the Google questionnaire form. 

“We do not post submissions that are solely pro-Greek life or only focus on the highlights/benefits of greek life as we feel it is important to amplify the stories of those hurt by greek life since greek life has multiple platforms to promote their benefits on,” according to a direct message to The Collegian. 

“We do not post submissions that invalidate the experiences of others previously posted on the account," the direct message continued. "Additionally, we do not post vague generalizations or assumptions, and prioritize specific personal experiences.” 

The account has received submissions through its Google questionnaire form that express criticism and disdain, sometimes in meme form, for the abolition of Greek Life movement, according to a direct message to The Collegian. 

“No amount of diversity initiatives and training sessions can resolve a system established and rooted in inequality and racism,” according to a direct message from the account. “In seeing the accounts like Abolish Vandy IFC and Panhellenic, we were inspired to take the route of attempting to abolish greek life [as opposed to reform, which] that would not be able to ultimately make the changes necessary to ensure a better environment for all students at UR.” 

Missy Carlson, the president of Tri Delta, wrote a statement to The Collegian July 9 regarding the Abolish Richmond Greek Life account. 

“I think it's really important to address that the Abolish Greek Life Instagram account is bringing forward important experiences that have happened on our campus," Carlson wrote, "the voices on the account are heard, the posts are being read, and it is sparking important discussions in the entire community."

According to the statement, Tri Delt does not yet have an action plan in place, but Carlson expressed a desire to change in an effort to stop harming other students. 

“It breaks my heart that these are students in our community calling us to take action and stop something that is harmful,” Carlson wrote. “I can only speak on behalf of Tri Delta, but I know that greek life as a whole NEEDS to change.”

Grace Miller, president of Pi Beta Phi, wrote in a statement to The Collegian on July 10 that she supports any conversations that aim to make UR “stronger and healthier and more inclusive.”

“As chapter president seeing the anonymous negative comments about Pi Beta Phi is difficult,” Miller wrote. “Though I understand my words will never be enough, I wish to offer at the very least a personal, sincere apology to those this organization has hurt. I believe Pi Beta Phi can demonstrate to these women and others, we’re committed to doing better. 

“In statements our chapter released in early June, we committed to becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive sisterhood. The action plan we outlined at that time has been and will continue to be a priority for our chapter.”

Lambda Chi president Carter Ayers published a statement on July 10 on the Lambda Chi Instagram page on behalf of the fraternity. Ayers sent this statement to The Collegian in response to its request for comment. 

"Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of Richmond ... recognizes the problematic history of Greek Life and in particular our own fraternity's contribution to these issues," according to the statement. "We take full responsibility for our Chapter's active and passive role in perpetuating racism, homophobia, and sexual harassment on Richmond's campus, and we acknowledge that the history of our Chapter and Greek Life at large is intertwined with discrimination and intolerance."

The statement went on to cite past instances of overt racism including when members appeared in blackface in 1953 and when the fraternity advertised a "Lambda Chi Slave Sale" in 1978. 

"We acknowledge that right now we are a part of the issue; however, we would like to change that," according to the statement.

In an email to The Collegian on July 9, IFC president Peter Corsiglia wrote that he cannot comment on the calls to abolish Greek Life at UR. IFC chapter presidents and the administrators in the CSI will likely discuss calls to abolish Greek Life in a meeting on July 13, according to Corsiglia’s email. The Collegian was denied access to the coming meeting.

President of the Panhellenic Council Maggie Castelli did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Lauren Stenson did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Coordinator of UR Greek Life Lisa McCoy did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Director of the Center for Student Involvement Alison Keller did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.

Dean of Richmond College Joe Boehman declined to comment.

Dean of Westhampton College Mia Reinoso Genoni did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Ashley Klippenstein, president of Panhellenic sorority Delta Gamma, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Kara Cromwell, president of Panhellenic sorority Kappa Delta, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Ellie Watson, president of Panhellenic sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.

John McCarthy, president of IFC fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, did not respond to The Collegian's request for comment. 

Damian Betancourt, president of IFC fraternity Kappa Alpha Order, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Will Sanchez, president of IFC fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment. 

Michael Ukrainskyj, president of IFC fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, did not respond to The Collegian's request for comment. 

Jack Gillies, president of IFC fraternity Theta Chi, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.

Features editor William Roberts contributed to reporting.

Contact opinions and columns editor Conner Evans at conner.evans@richmond.edu.

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