The Collegian
Thursday, September 24, 2020

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Statement written by students in support of Greek life abolition

<p>First two paragraphs of statement signed by more than 100 students requesting the abolishment of Greek life, which was sent in an email to members of the UR administration and the president of the faculty senate on Aug. 9.&nbsp;</p>

First two paragraphs of statement signed by more than 100 students requesting the abolishment of Greek life, which was sent in an email to members of the UR administration and the president of the faculty senate on Aug. 9. 

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this statement do not reflect those of The Collegian. The Collegian could not confirm the identities, Greek-life affiliation nor class years of anonymous signatories of this statement. Additionally, The Collegian could not confirm whether all signatories have disaffiliated or will disaffiliate from their Greek-life organizations.

Below is a statement written by University of Richmond seniors Maggie Castelli, Emma Roberts, Presley Richardson, Erin Watton, Ciara Mullen, Kendall Crispin and Emma Hoholik; juniors Magnolia Stuart and Sarah Houle. The statement was finalized and shared with UR president Ronald Crutcher, Dean of Westhampton College Mia Reinoso Genoni, Dean of Richmond College Joe Boehman, Executive Vice President and Provost Jeff Legro, Vice President for Student Development Steve Bisese and faculty senate president Thad Williamson on Aug. 10, Castelli wrote in an email to The Collegian on Aug. 17. 

Parts of this statement have been modified since Aug. 10 for clarification and modifications have been placed in brackets for transparency. The original statement can be found here. In the interest of conveying the authors' original phrasing and intent, The Collegian has not edited the statement for grammar nor style.

Bisese and Director of the Center for Student Involvement Alison Bartel Keller responded to this statement on Aug. 17, according to a letter obtained by The Collegian.

The statement below will be updated periodically as new signatures are added. 


Dear President Crutcher, Dean Genoni, Dean Boehman, Provost Legro, Vice President Bisese, and Professor Williamson,

We, the undersigned [current and former] Panhellenic women, are writing to express our intent to abolish Panhellenic and Interfraternity (IFCPH) Greek Life at the University of Richmond. The abolish Greek Life movement on social media, sparked by the Instagram account “@abolishrichmondgreeklife” and the subsequent petition [to disband IFCPH organizations at UR,] has highlighted the continued existence of racism, classism, homophobia, sexual misconduct and ableism embedded in these systems. We write in solidarity with the [Abolish Richmond Greek life] account, to show our support, and request that we work with, rather than against, the University to formulate a plan that will eventually end our chapters’ existence on our campus. We must have administrative support in this movement for abolition, for reasons outlined below.

IFC and Panhellenic organizations are not in the position to reform. Leadership across Panhellenic has worked to make our sororities more inclusive over the years; recruitment chairs have worked to meaningfully change the demographics of our chapters, while finance chairs have tried to mitigate the costs of sisterhood. However, national rules for recruitment and cost of affiliation are rigid barriers to diverse membership. Following the rules of these national organizations does not work for our campus because they contradict [UR’s] values of diversity and inclusivity. Additionally, the historic white supremacy in Greek Life, documented in the university’s own yearbooks, makes membership undesirable to many students of color. Greek Life was built upon racism and elitism, which are now regarded as “traditions” to keep Greek Life “sacred.” Thus, we cannot reform a system that is tied to [national organizations] and was created to oppress people. We must enact change for the good of our campus, which requires interrogation of the history of the city of Richmond, our campus culture and the foundations of Greek Life. While we cannot rectify the past harm Greek Life has inflicted, abolition can prevent it from continuing to harm people on our campus. 

We also want to clearly state that this call for abolition does not include the [National Pan-Hellenic Council] sororities or fraternities in our community. These organizations were historically created to uplift the voices that white Greek Life continues to oppress. The University must take caution to not include the abolition of NPHC organizations in this conversation, and, more importantly, invest more resources into these organizations. Further, when we reference “Greek Life,” we are referring only to IFCPH Greek Life and are not attempting to generalize the experiences of NPHC members with those of IFCPH members. 

Members of IFCPH chapters, including ourselves, have reaped benefits and privilege from these organizations on campus and beyond, but we must take accountability for our enormous negative impact. We aim to end our chapters’ contributions to the systemic segregation and social stratification on campus. Outlined below are some of the numerous reasons that have compelled us to call for the abolishment of Panhellenic and IFC organizations:

  • The University of Richmond [was] consistently ranked as one of the most segregated schools in the country by the Princeton Review. This segregation is directly related to Greek Life. The Greek system’s domination of our campus contributes significantly to segregation in classrooms, seating in the [Heilman Dining Center], tabling in Tyler Haynes Commons, and even extends beyond our physical campus, enabling racially, sexuality and gender-motivated discrimination and exclusion from activities and parties, which has been documented publicly over the years. In the IFCPH system, students are bound together through expensive, exclusive organizations with members being predominantly white students from affluent backgrounds. This, combined with Greek Life’s domination of social life and educational and administrative connections on campus, creates systemic advantages for white and otherwise privileged students, while further disadvantaging those who are not affiliated, either by choice or discrimination. As a result, we believe that the University's statements of inclusion and diversity cannot align with the presence of Greek Life on our campus.
  • It is also important to note the systemic exclusion of those in the LGBTQIA+ community. In the recruitment process, women are explicitly and repeatedly told not to discuss certain topics including, but not limited to: “bucks, the bible and boys.” The very nature of these rules emphasizes the hetero- and cis-normative structure of Panhellenic organizations, even going so far as prohibiting our chapters from accepting non-binary students as members. This discrimination is further amplified in IFC organizations, with men who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community hiding their sexuality for fear of disapproval, ridicule, and physical or emotional harm. 
  • Hazing in IFC and Panhellenic organizations on our campus is uncontrollable, harms students within our community and is deeply embedded in [IFCPH] organizations. Even more troubling, Greek Life provides private opportunities for upperclassmen to physically and mentally abuse underclassmen with no lasting consequences for their actions. We are repeatedly disgusted by the hazing in our community but are hardly ever surprised. Further, efforts to reduce hazing have continually proved fruitless, as it continues to persist despite decades of attempted regulation.
  • Lastly, there is a rampant issue of sexual assault, harassment and r*pe perpetuated through the party culture and misogynistic nature of Greek Life. Both affiliated and unaffiliated students are survivors of sexual violence at the hands of IFC men. The administration and [IFCPH] community can no longer ignore the physical violence and criminal actions perpetrated by our [IFCPH] peers. We have been drugged, sexually assaulted, r*ped. We demand all students receive justice by abolishing the institutions that facilitate sexual violence and allow IFC men to get away with these criminal acts. 

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Following past racist, antisemitic and sexist incidents on campus, we have received emails from administration addressing the issues at hand. However, the administration continually fails to investigate what enabled racism, antisemitism, sexism and homophobia on our campus, in our student life and in our academic spaces. There has been no official discussion [between administration and students] of the segregated, exclusive social hierarchy and Greek Life’s perpetuation of that social structure. Students have been, and continue to be, left to discover these realities themselves. As an institution that claims to value diversity, inclusion and the thriving and belonging of all students, we feel these values are not being upheld by [the] actions [of UR’s students, faculty and administration].

Abolishing Greek Life is the responsibility of all IFCPH members and University administration. While mass disaffiliation and disbanding our chapters is an option, administrative support is vital for our goal of long-lasting abolition, due to the aforementioned issues with national organizations. You must, at least, publicly commit to stop any national organization that wishes to recruit for a chapter that has willingly disbanded through mass disaffiliation. It is wrong that a group of 18 to 22-year-old women can make a decision for the good of their community, only for it to be undone by the decisions of national organizations’ employees who do not belong to this campus. Further, we want to direct your attention to a letter written by women of color [who disaffiliated from their Panhellenic sororities] that calls on affiliated members to disaffiliate from their IFCPH organizations. We want to express our utmost support for these women and this call to action and urge you to listen to their voices, acknowledge their experiences and validate their demands.

We recognize that this change on our campus will not happen immediately and will require students and administrators to work together. By following the lead of colleges and universities that have successfully abolished IFCPH, we believe that this ban will make [UR] a safer and better community. Thus, we propose the [attached framework]. We want suggestions and feedback from administrators and other student organizations on the best way to remove IFCPH Greek Life — and its resulting segregation, racism, homophobia, ableism, sexism, antisemitism and transphobia — from our campus community. Through this plan and collaboration with more students, we can create an inclusive and diverse social life at the University of Richmond.

We cannot fix something that is not broken. The IFCPH system was made to be this way: exclusionary, classist and predominately white. We are now asking [administrators and faculty members,] those who have observed this system for far longer than any of us, to take action. 

Sincerely, 

  1. Maggie Castelli, former Panhellenic Council president, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  2. Emma Roberts, disaffiliated VP of finance, Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  3. Presley Richardson, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  4. Magnolia Stuart, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  5. Erin Watton, disaffiliated VP of public relations, Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  6. Ciara Mullen, disaffiliated VP of membership, Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  7. Kendall Crispin, disaffiliated VP of membership, Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  8. Sarah Houle, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  9. Emma Hoholik, former Panhellenic Council VP of recruitment, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  10. Rowan Cai, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  11. Nora Apt, disaffiliated VP of chapter development, Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  12. Miroslava Martinez, disaffiliated VP of finance, Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  13. Hannah Lee, disaffiliated VP of standards, Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  14. Claire Paulhac, disaffiliated VP of public relations, Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  15. Julia Feron, disaffiliated VP of member education, Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  16. Kennedy Aldrich, disaffiliated VP of membership, Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  17. Lucia Sweeney, disaffiliated VP of operations, Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  18. Siobhan Kelly, disaffiliated VP of communications, Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  19. Mia Dini, disaffiliated VP of programming, Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  20. Ava Cummings, VP of member experience, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  21. Noella Park, director of recruitment events, Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  22. Eliza Hancock, disaffiliated VP Panhellenic delegate, Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  23. Kayla Saltzman, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  24. Khushi Basnyat, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2023
  25. Claire Silverman, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2023
  26. Katie Wilson, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2022
  27. Morgan Deckert, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022
  28. Sophia Frazier, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  29. Sophia Hardten, disaffiliating from Kappa Delta, Class of 2022
  30. Corinne Joss, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  31. Erin Hagemann, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  32. Sophia McWilliams, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  33. Olivia Podber, disaffiliating from Kappa Delta, Class of 2022
  34. Annalise Bellinger, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  35. Kathrina Durante, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2023*
  36. Jessica Alt, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2022*
  37. Annette Giardino, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  38. Liv Clayton, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2023*
  39. Maeve McCormick, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  40. Emily Wass, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  41. Lindsey Barnard, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  42. Maggie Larkin, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  43. Madison Richard, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  44. Meredith Johnson, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2022*
  45. Alyssa Zambri, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2023
  46. Elizabeth Hussin, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  47. Meredith Moran, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  48. Taylor Grindle, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2022*
  49. Hadley Beckstrand, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2022*
  50. Deirdre McLaughlin, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  51. Katherine Pollock, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  52. Rose Mascarenhas, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2022*
  53. Emma Kenna, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021
  54. Annika Kuruvilla, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  55. [Marisa Daugherty,] disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  56. Molly Kate Kreider, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  57. Lauren Hagemeister, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  58. Diana Torralba, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  59. Anna Fortunato, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2023
  60. Emily Mendelson, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  61. Sophie Borchart, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  62. Eva Kemal, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2022
  63. Zena Abro, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2022
  64. Lynessa Yang, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  65. Kate Dulac, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  66. Annie Wang, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  67. Sarah Wagner, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  68. Alyssa Shlapak, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  69. London Nemmers, disaffiliating from Kappa Delta, Class of 2023
  70. Grace Kiernan, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021
  71. Sabrina Munro, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2022
  72. Meghan Murphy, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  73. Anna Mann, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  74. Jean Azar-Tanguay, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2023
  75. Anna Marston, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2022
  76. Anna Thompson, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  77. Jessica Garofalo, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022*
  78. Victoria Zmuda, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  79. Emily Marie Breaux, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  80. Corrine Manderino, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2023*
  81. Maddie Gutierrez, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  82. Julia Mason, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2022
  83. Isabella Dumitrescu, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021
  84. Shruti Police, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  85. Jessica Mahoney, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021
  86. Emma Alvarez, disaffiliating from Tri Delta, Class of 2021
  87. Lili Mitchell, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2021
  88. Sophie Peltzer, disaffiliating from Delta Gamma, Class of 2023
  89. Gwynna Ryan, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  90. Rebecca Levitt, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2021*
  91. Annabelle Chung, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021*
  92. Reghan Ruf, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2021
  93. Katherine Peterson, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  94. Keeley Harris, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021
  95. Alisa Fominykh, disaffiliated from Kappa Delta, Class of 2023*
  96. Bianca Wieck, disaffiliated from Kappa Delta, Class of 2021*
  97. Susanna Getis, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2022
  98. Ally Marrinan, disaffiliated member of Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2021*
  99. Ushna Arshad Khan, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  100. Anonymous, disaffiliated member of Kappa Delta, Class of 2022*
  101. Anonymous, disaffiliating from Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2023
  102. Anonymous, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2022
  103. Anonymous, disaffiliating from Kappa Kappa Gamma, Class of 2022
  104. Lindsey Paul, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2020
  105. Allyson Charleston, disaffiliated member of Tri Delta, Class of 2020
  106. Ana Deutsch, disaffiliated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2020
  107. Lillian Sullivan, disaffiliated member of Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2020
  108. Eliana Fleischer, disaffiliated member of Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2020
  109. Lauren O’Brien, graduated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2020
  110. Alexis Aviles, graduated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2020, 
  111. Maria Seitz, graduated member of Delta Gamma, Class of 2020
  112. Claire Powell, graduated member of Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2020
  113. Sarah Pencak, graduated member of Pi Beta Phi, Class of 2020

*disaffiliated summer 2020

For inquiries regarding this statement and how to add your signature, contact contributors Maggie Castelli, Emma Roberts and Presley Richardson at maggie.castelli@richmond.edu, emma.roberts@richmond.edu and presley.richardson@richmond.edu. 

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