Panhellenic Council sororities gain equal representation

by Kelsey Flower | 11/2/14 7:36pm

Panhellenic Council sororities and Interfraternity Council fraternities now have equal representation in the Greek Leadership Council, following a vote last Thursday. Each of the eight Panhell sororities will get 1.875 votes, while the 15 IFC fraternities and other Greek organizations will continue to have one.

Panhell president Rachel Funk ’15 said she and a number of sorority presidents wondered if it was fair that Panhell and IFC organization each received one vote, given that total membership in both groups is nearly equal.

As of winter 2014, the most recent data available on the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies website, IFC had 1,101 members and Panhell had 1,076.

“Considering that we had about equal membership in the Greek community, we thought it was unfair for us to have seven fewer votes,” Funk said.

As of winter 2014, the Gender-Inclusive Council, previously known as the Coed Council, had 105 members, the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations had 11 and the National Pan-Hellenic Council had 18.

This fall, Panhell organizations focused their attention largely on sorority recruitment rather than system-wide changes, Funk said. On Oct. 24, Panhell found out that the GLC was going to try to institute changes, Funk said, declining to specify what they comprised.

“At that point, we were like, we don’t want to have to vote on more policies until we get what we felt was equal voting rights, a concept we find neither radical or unreasonable,” Funk said. “We did not feel that it was fair to the women we represent to continue to vote on GLC matters until we felt that we were able to accurately represent them on all GLC matters.”

Panhell organizations decided to boycott all GLC events, refusing to vote on anything until equal representation was addressed, Funk said. The gender-inclusive Greek organizations said that they would participate in the boycott as well.

“Unsurprisingly, our organizations are ones that very highly value gender equity, and we think it was an unfair system that had as many women in sororities as there were in fraternities but only half as many votes,” said Noah Cramer ’16, president of the Gender-Inclusive Greek Council which voted to change its name last week.

Panhell proposed that each sorority receive two votes, which would give them one more than the fraternities. The GLC put Panhell’s request to a vote on Oct. 30.

At the meeting, Cramer said, four options were presented: leaving the current system in place, attempting to portion votes by organization size, balancing IFC fraternity and Panhell sorority votes, or giving two votes to the top 10 largest organizations, including seven sororities and three fraternities.

GLC Accountability Chair Sarah Lucas ’15 wrote in an email the presidents first voted by ballot between all four options and then by a raise of hands between the most popular two — giving the 10 largest organizations two votes each and giving each Panhell sorority 1.875 votes.

“I think that we’ll be able to make more meaningful and lasting policy across all Greek organizations,” Funk said of the change.

Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority president Emily Reeves ’15 wrote in an email that the change was long overdue and she was excited for women to have equal representation in the Greek system.

Alpha Phi sorority president Courtney Wong ’15 said she was happy about the changes.

“Overall I think that it’s a great step on moving forward on everyone’s behalf because it was a cooperative effort between every house that’s involved with the GLC,” Wong said. “I hope that in the future, it will lead to more collaboration.”

Phi Tau coed fraternity president Aylin Woodward ’15 called the changes a “step in the right direction.”

Though she said she would rather every organization get a proportional number of votes to its members, she said she thinks the change will help Phi Tau, as its interests tend to be analogous with those of Panhell.

“We find that our voices are most often heard when we form a coalition with them, as it makes it easier for them to represent our interests in a forum where we really don’t get a lot of voting power or say since there are only a few coed organizations,” she said.

Cramer said he thinks the changes mark a positive step not only for Panhell sororities but also for gender-inclusive organizations. He said he is hopeful about what it means for the GLC moving forward.

“Historically, the GLC hasn’t been used to implement that much policy, and I think a lot of that is because a lot of people saw it as a broken system where the fraternities as super enfranchised and everyone else doesn’t have that much of a voice,” Cramer said. “I hope this change will give people a lot more faith in the GLC voting system and make people feel empowered to use the GLC to pass meaningful policy for the Greek system.”

GLC moderator Alistair Glover ’15 declined to comment, as did presidents of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, Delta Delta Delta sorority, Phi Delta Alpha fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Sigma Nu fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Tabard coed fraternity and Zeta Psi fraternity. Presidents of Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity, Alpha Delta fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Alpha Pi Omega sorority, Alpha Theta coed fraternity, Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, Bones Gate fraternity, Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, Chi Heorot fraternity, Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, Kappa Delta sorority, Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity, Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity, Phi Tau coed fraternity, Psi Upsilon fraternity, Sigma Delta sorority, Sigma Lambda Upsilon sorority and Theta Delta Chi fraternity could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon or evening, nor could presidents of the IFC, NALFO or NPHC.

Woodward is a member of The Dartmouth opinion staff.

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