Abolish IFC and Panhellenic Organizations at Vanderbilt University
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As members of the Vanderbilt Community, we write to urge the Vanderbilt administration to abolish the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic (IFCPH) chapters on our campus.
We stand in solidarity with the brave students who have spoken out against their abusers in IFCPH, despite repeated failures to act by Vanderbilt University.
Many Vanderbilt students, both inside and outside IFCPH organizations, have experienced incidences of racism, misogyny, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and sexual assault due to the IFCPH system. IFCPH organizations have a history of perpetuating these systemic issues that leads to the continued harm of other students.
We condemn the exclusive environment sanctioned by IFCPH organizations that continues to protect and uphold discriminatory, harmful, and elitist practices. Not only do these organizations have classist cost-barriers to entry, but they also accumulate a predominantly white, able-bodied, and cis-hetero demographic.
IFCPH is more likely to attract non-working class, white, and higher-income (USD $500,000 and above) students; it also sustains a cycle of privilege in which white students are more likely to gain professional opportunities than their non-white peers: 76% of U.S. Senators, 85% of Fortune 500 executives, and 85% of Supreme Court justices since 1910 have been alumni of fraternities and sororities.
Historically White Fraternities and Sororities (HWFS) have excluded BIPOC and religious minorities, thereby preserving a space for white superiority on college campuses. This legacy remains, as IFCPH organizations continue to create spaces that exclude BIPOC through a lack of BIPOC representation and frequent protection of racist behaviors perpetrated by their members.
Because IFCPH was founded on ideals of exclusion—particularly along lines of race and socioeconomic status—IFCPH organizations cannot possibly be reformed to the point of true inclusion and safety for all students.
We acknowledge that the existence of structural racism, misogyny, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and sexual assault will not be eradicated by the abolition of IFCPH organizations. However, the IFCPH system has played a unique role in exacerbating these issues on our campus and must be abolished in order to both break this cycle and begin repairing the harm done to the Vanderbilt community.
We acknowledge the students who have found community in IFCPH organizations.
However, we also acknowledge that for every positive experience there are also negative experiences of survivors and marginalized students that have been minimized and overlooked due to the privilege and complicitness of Vanderbilt University's IFCPH organization leaders and members. Our campus will never be safe or inclusive until every single student feels safe and included regardless of their identity or socioeconomic status. Upholding IFCPH organizations will only ensure that these divides remain.
Abolishing IFCPH Greek life is the only way to begin repairing the harm caused by generations of social injustice.
Why We Want To Abolish:
- IFCPH organizations were founded on white supremacy and stand to perpetuate racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and the gender binary.
- We acknowledge that structural issues exist without IFCPH, but IFCPH create spaces that facilitate racial and sexual violence, which necessitates their abolition as a critical part of anti-violence work on campus.
- Despite the fact that past efforts have made IFCPH more inclusive through reform, continuing these efforts is not enough:
- The system cannot adequately be reformed from within because values and exclusionary functions foundational to its existence inherently perpetuate systemic inequities.
- Reform requires maintaining a system of oppression that perpetuates harm to current students both in and outside of the IFCPH community.
- IFCPH is inherently discriminatory against BIPOC, low-income students, and LGBTQI+ people.
- IFCPH is a system that promotes rape culture, misogyny, and sexism.
- Fraternity men are more likely to be sexual abusers and more than one-third of rapes on college campuses were found to be at Fraternity events.
- The AAU climate survey and QLS 2018-2019 found that Vanderbilt undergraduate Greek men and women (especially those living in Greek housing) experienced more nonconsensual sexual contact and harassing behaviors than their non-Greek peers.
- The tier system attributed to IFCPH causes immense harm, both to those not in IFCPH as well as to members in “lower tier” chapters.
- The tier system in IFCPH gives “top tier” chapters more social capital based on issues such as race, class, and white standards of beauty.
- Any system that perpetuates exclusion and discriminatory behaviors does not belong on Vanderbilt’s campus.
What It Means To Abolish:
- All students who support this movement disaffiliate and renounce their membership from all IFCPH organizations.
- We call for students in positions of leadership to disband their organizations until permanent measures are taken by the administration. Their silence and complicitness in properly addressing these issues cannot be resolved unless they disaffiliate from the structures that stand in the way of social justice and equity on our campus.
- All IFCPH organizations and previous members recognize their complicitness in perpetuating oppressive practices on Vanderbilt’s campus.
- Future students refuse to participate in organizations grounded in social benefits and elitism and instead participate in interest-based and cultural organizations.
List of Demands:
- Vanderbilt University places a permanent ban on all future IFCPH recruitment cycles, which will effectively abolish their affiliated organizations in three years.
- No new IFCPH chapters will be allowed on campus, permanently.
- Physical and financial resources given to IFCPH organizations are reallocated to those who were previously excluded from and harmed by IFCPH organizations and members.
- This includes the repurposing of on-campus IFCPH houses so that they may serve as spaces to support and uplift interest-based and cultural organizations.
- Vanderbilt University prevents the formation of future socially-oriented organizations that uphold and perpetuate the same systemic inequities as IFCPH Greek Life.
We hope the administration will listen to our demands. The existence of IFCPH does not sufficiently support students, nor does it align with Vanderbilt’s values of equity, compassion, inclusion, and excellence that Vanderbilt students embody. Not only is abolishing IFCPH the right thing for the administration to do, but it is also supported among the student body. At this moment, over 200 students have already dropped out of their IFCPH organizations in solidarity for abolishment.
We challenge every member of the Vanderbilt University community and beyond to abolish institutions that are inherently against justice, equity, and inclusion for all individuals.
We challenge every member to see themselves as active participants in an ethically sound society capable of demanding better, from themselves and the institutions they find community in.
We challenge every member to take a step back and hold themselves accountable for their actions, whether they were driven by ignorance or in full faith.
We challenge every witness of this movement to educate and empower one another.
We challenge you.
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