I listen to Hamilton’s soundtrack on my way to and from class almost every day. “The Schulyer Sisters” discusses the revolution and the Declaration of Independence. One sister, Angelica, speaking of the iconic “All men are created equal” clause argues the she is going to tell Thomas Jefferson to include women in the sequel. Yes, as a woman, I hope we continue to strive for equality. Truthfully, I’m horrified by the wage gap and the sexism that continues to plague our society. The statement should read “All people are created equal” because equality should not be exclusive.
My friend and I recently had a conversation about segregation on Vanderbilt’s campus. Is it a result of Vanderbilt’s culture or is a natural process? Despite Vanderbilt’s efforts to encourage diversity and inclusivity, our campus is in a stalemate. It seems like a strong generalization to say that our campus is like the scene out of Mean Girls when Janis Ian describes where everyone sits. Yet, it’s true and I witness it every day.
Some argue that it’s a result of Panhellenic and IFC’s exclusivity. Frankly, it’d be wrong for me to argue that Panhellenic and IFC are not because I’ve never been on the other side of recruitment. From my few months as a member of the Panhellenic community, I’ve witnessed more warmth and acceptance than ever before, but that’s a result of the chapter that I am in and my own personal experience. That’s one experience in greek life here at Vanderbilt. Other people talk about all of the times they’ve felt rejected or ostracized by the community.
Diversity is not only lacking in greek life. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed it in the organizations I am a part of as well. My organization is heavily influenced by IFC and Panhellenic’s members, yet each year we struggle to get NPHC and multicultural organizations involved. Each year we improve and diversify our board but we are one of more than two hundred organizations on this campus.
Diversity is not something that Vanderbilt’s administration can single-handedly change. It is on us as students to bridge the gap and encourage growth within our organizations on campus. The idea that equal opportunity is elusive nationally is not something we can fix today, or even with a few months of work. It will take decades, but we have to begin on a local level. We can start by changing IFC and Panhellenic’s outreach and recruitment methods in an effort to make each fraternity and sorority for diverse. We can reach out to communities other than Greek Life to broaden the depth of various organizations on this campus.