For a gradually evolving Greek Community: Tradition, Values, and Creating Inclusive Community
Written by Letter to the Editor|
September 26, 2016
Fraternity and Sorority life has been a part of the William & Mary experience for more than 200 years. Tradition has been a cornerstone of our community since Phi Beta Kappa was founded here in 1776, and our Greek values have linked our community together and continued to resonate for centuries. Our values of leadership, service, and scholarship are not dependent upon traditional, binary understandings of gender and sexuality, but on our common commitment as Greeks to uphold these values in our thoughts, words, and actions. Humans have always had complex gender identities and sexualities; but now, our community is entering a time when we must start engaging in a conversation with the broader campus about these aspects of the human identity and experience.
Our community has only recently begun to understand the value of diverse voices and identities, but efforts to improve inclusivity are gaining momentum. The North-American Interfraternity Conference, the trade association for sixty-nine fraternities nationwide, has recently created a transgender inclusion working group to better understand student perspectives and legal issues. This organization, along with many individual fraternities and sororities, has made a decision to promote greater inclusion and thus demonstrated admirable leadership. These groups have taken a risk and challenged their members to expand their definitions of brotherhood and sisterhood to embrace a Greek community that is striving to actively create space for a marginalized community.
Though our preconceptions about what Greek communities look like might be changing, our values remain constant, and we should actively welcome all individuals who share those values
We affirm that trans individuals have a place in Greek life. We call upon the members of the William & Mary Greek community to explore the many events on campus that highlight the diverse experiences that William & Mary students bring to the College, events like the upcoming talk by genderqueer activist Jacob Tobia on October 19th to show your support for the trans and genderqueer communities. We ask fraternity and sorority members to be humble, to educate themselves, and to be willing to be uncomfortable. We must begin to view ourselves as a part of the broader campus, and show our support for the trans and genderqueer communities here at the College.
Though our preconceptions about what Greek communities look like might be changing, our values remain constant, and we should actively welcome all individuals who share those values, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how they identify and express their authentic selves.
Joining Greeks for Respect, Inclusion, and Diversity (GRID) is just one way for Greeks to get involved and help our community move toward a more inclusive future. Stop by our table in Sadler later this week to learn more about our work on campus and sign a pledge of support for the trans and genderqueer communities.
Madeleine Engler ’17, Alex Winkowski’17, and Meronne Teklu ’17 –
W&M Greeks for Respect, Inclusion, and Diversity (GRID) Initiative