Disclaimer: This statement was written by and expresses the views of the current Panhellenic Executive Board. The PHA Executive Board consists of eight members from various chapters at Northwestern that were elected by the Delegates and Presidents of the PHA chapters. While we have every intention of upholding this statement as an Executive Board, the action to abolish chapters is ultimately determined by members of each individual chapter and the degree of autonomy that their national organizations provide them in these decisions.
Statement was written on July 28th, 2020 and approved for release by vote of PHA chapter delegates on September 2nd, 2020.
To the members of the Panhellenic community and the Northwestern community at large:
We want to start off by acknowledging the history of our organization as a system of oppression and its current role as a harmful institution that exacerbates exclusivity, classism, racism, homophobia, and all other ways people in our community have been made to feel “othered.” Our houses sit on stolen land, and our members reap the benefits of white supremacy and the prison-industrial complex. PHA has failed its purpose of serving as an inclusive space meant to empower all women and non-binary people, and has continuously reaffirmed the patriarchy, binary gender roles, and heteronormativity.
We hear the requests for abolition and want to credit the campus activists who have urged us to disband and created spaces for past and current members to share their experiences and feel heard, especially at a time where PHA has failed to hear them. It is our firm belief that the harm done by PHA, regardless of intent, is irreparable and no amount of apologies or reform can lead to restorative justice. Leaders within the Panhellenic community have been discussing abolition on a daily basis the past month. We acknowledge that this has come at a time where societal pressure for abolition has spread across campuses. Our movement towards disbanding is long overdue.
Our obligation to our members’ wellbeings remains our utmost priority, particularly our BIPOC and non-binary members. We are actively looking into disbanding in a way that won’t negatively impact our members, including students who have signed contracts and rely on Greek housing for its affordability relative to on-campus housing. We are also considering how our decisions during a global pandemic would affect the kitchen/housing staff and the Evans Scholars program who are currently employed by PHA organizations. In the meantime, we will cease charging chapters for dues that go towards recruitment, as these are the only dues that the PHA Executive Board has direct discretion over.
Our second priority is permanency. When we say abolish Greek life, we have no intention of leaving a space that allows it to return. Therefore, we are looking into ways that would prevent national Greek chapters from coming to campus to “recolonize.” We also do not want these organizations to go underground, where they’d lack regulation and accountability. We urge Northwestern to take action to protect its students by preventing such groups from forming and eradicating current organizations that systematically perpetuate harm.
This is by no means an easy or quick process, especially given the resistance from national chapters, Northwestern administration, and alumni. Whilst we tackle this process, we call on all other Greek organizations to consider disbanding, especially the Interfraternity Council. Any organization that charges students for membership is classist and therefore, perpetuates systems of injustice and inequity.
Above all, we call on Northwestern University to prioritize Black students’ needs. These exclusive organizations wouldn’t exist or prosper without Northwestern’s consistent enablement of systems of oppression on campus. It has been 52 years since Bursar’s Takeover and 55 days since the @nucommunitynotcops petition, and the Northwestern administration has failed to fulfill the demands of Black students.
We will update the Northwestern and Panhellenic community with more information as this situation progresses. Further updates and future Panhellenic statements will be posted to our @northwesternpha account on Instagram. In the meantime, we urge everyone to reach out to us with any questions or concerns and we welcome constructive feedback and suggestions on how to best move forward.
The Panhellenic Executive Board
Afnan Elsheikh, President
Makenna Littlejohn, VP Standards
Jessica Tartakovsky, VP Membership
Mia Willett, VP Programming
Patrycja Kaluzynska, VP Administration
Emily Kleinbart, VP Community Wellness & Engagement
Zana Rashid, VP Public Relations
Jenna Hart, VP Justice & Inclusion