Alpha Chi Alpha and Kappa Delta Epsilon collaborate to create ‘20X Challenge’

by Hannah Jinks | 6/26/20 2:41am

by Katelyn Jones / The Dartmouth

In light of the highly publicized murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained traction around the world and mobilized millions to take action. The College has served as a microcosm of this global movement, as protestors took to the Green to decry police brutality and several Greek houses created fundraising campaigns or pledged to donate money to pertinent organizations. As part of this movement, Kappa Delta Epsilon and Alpha Chi Alpha recently created the “20X Challenge,” an initiative that strives to address racial injustice in the Dartmouth Greek community.

According to its website, the 20X Challenge has two main objectives: fundraising and education. From July 1 to July 20, the challenge plans to raise $20,000 on behalf of the Dartmouth Greek system to be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, JAG Productions and The Loveland Foundation. Additionally, over the course of those 20 days, participants are asked to engage in daily challenges designed to bring awareness to racism across the world and within the College’s Greek system and broader campus culture, the challenge’s website said. 

“It’s basically about recognizing that Greek life is an inherently exclusive system with anti-Black and anti-POC racism embedded in it,” 20X KDE philanthropy chair Caitlin Deerin ’22 said. “We don’t talk about that, and so [the challenge] is just a start to this long overdue journey for the Greek system.”

Each of the challenges fall into five categories — watch, read, listen, act and reflect — across four themes — institutional, structural, interpersonal and internal racism — according to the challenge’s website. The daily activities are listed on the challenge’s website and take roughly 20 minutes, although “bonus challenges” are available and encouraged. In addition to the scheduled activities, different Greek houses will host cross-house discussions over Zoom for reflection every five days, Deerin said.

The challenge intentionally aligns with the first few weeks of sophomore summer, a term that “glorifies Greek spaces,” according to the challenge’s website. Although the challenge centers on affiliated ’22s, the entire Dartmouth community — including outgoing seniors, parents and professors — is eligible to participate.

Deerin said that KDE had planned to organize a philanthropy event that would engage the Greek system and Upper Valley community prior to the murder of George Floyd. However, after Floyd’s death precipitated protests internationally, KDE started designing the 20X challenge with the help of Positive Tracks, a sports-based youth development organization located in Hanover. According to Deerin, KDE partnered with Alpha Chi after Jasper Meyer ’22, a member of Alpha Chi, heard KDE had contacted Positive Tracks, where he is a member of the Board of Directors.

The challenge’s curriculum has been and continues to be designed based on the input of “so many different minds,” according to Deerin. The vast majority of resources listed on the challenge’s website were compiled with outside consultation and recommendations, she said. The organizers also said they welcome feedback and have linked a Google form on the challenge’s website.

Since the challenge sets out to produce a cultural shift in the College’s Greek system, uniform participation among all members of Greek houses is critical. Deerin noted that all predominately-White Greek houses have pledged to participate, but establishing accountability is entirely up to each individual house.

Deerin said that the challenge’s organizers considered requiring a daily Google form to prove completion of each activity but ultimately decided against it. Instead, each individual house is responsible for coming up with its own solution. She added that KDE specifically has “made it 100 percent clear” that each member’s participation is expected. Regular Zoom discussions will also allow leadership in Greek houses to gauge participation among their members.

The challenge holds particular significance for KDE as a house, according to KDE diversity and inclusivity chair Margaret Hubble ’21. Last summer, KDE saw an incident during which some of its non-Black members used the n-word at a party, a moment that Hubble said revealed previously latent racism within the house’s culture. Hubble said that since the incident occurred during sophomore summer for the ’21s, this summer is symbolic of overhauling that culture, not only in KDE but Dartmouth’s entire Greek system.

“We need to normalize having conversations about the stuff that we’re uncomfortable talking about and the stuff that we’re not proud of,” Hubble said. “KDE has facilitated lots of discussions [about the incident] over the past couple terms, so the ’22s should be prepared for [the challenge].”

Londyn Crenshaw ’22, manager of the 20X Challenge’s Instagram account, emphasized that the challenge is not about improving KDE’s reputation. According to Crenshaw, KDE is “not shy” about addressing the n-word incident in its house last summer and has fostered internal dialogue even for the brief period that she has been a member of the house.

“While there’s more of a spotlight on KDE, we know these issues exist in every house,” Crenshaw said. “I’m sure any person in a predominantly-White Greek space could point to an incident in their house that wasn’t broadcast to the entire school.”

She added that, as the only Black ’22 in KDE, she received an “insanely great” response from the other women in her rush class. However, despite the reaffirmation and support she said she has experienced in KDE, she believes racial injustice at the College often goes unspoken.

“Now is a really great time to stop acting like [racism] doesn’t exist on campus,” Crenshaw said. “The biggest goal of [the challenge] is to have a continued and evolving conversation about race, especially in the Greek system but also on a broader scale.”

Since the challenge is intended to primarily address racism in the Greek system, Deerin acknowledged that its organizers received criticism for not providing resources specifically about Greek spaces. She said that the curriculum is constantly adapting. The organizers are working to incorporate more Greek-specific activities but simultaneously want to retain its accessibility to unaffiliated participants, according to Deerin. She also noted that the Zoom discussions exist to force Greek houses to reflect on how racism permeates their own culture.

The 20X Challenge is a small step toward eradicating racism in Greek spaces, according to Deerin. She said that the challenge merely serves as a “habit-forming” exercise. On the 21st day of the challenge, Greek houses will be expected to engage in discussions about how to integrate what they learned into their culture, leadership and recruitment strategies moving forward, Deerin added, citing the adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

“[The challenge] is in every way supposed to be a habit-forming first step toward normalizing conversations about the role of the Greek system in oppressive and racist systems,” Deerin said. “We hope to see Greek houses continuing these conversations long after [the challenge] ends.” 

Correction appended (June 26, 2020): This article originally identified Caitlin Deerin as the full-year philanthropy chair for KDE, when she is actually the 20X philanthropy chair. The article also incorrectly included all gender-inclusive Greek houses among the houses that have pledged to join the challenge. The article has been updated to reflect Deerin’s correct title and the correct list of participating houses.