Cornell University Greek Tri-Council Diversity & Inclusion Plan:

Accountability, Education, Impact, and Change

 

I. Introduction

Over the past two weeks, the Cornell community has faced two Greek-related incidents, both relating to racial and ethnic bias. The following is our plan moving forward. The actions of these individuals are both disgusting and deplorable, and we are not ignorant of the larger issues of systemic oppression plaguing fraternity and sorority life. As such, we set forth the following plan to enact sustainable, effective, and critically necessary change in our community. Its implementation is contingent on emphasizing four key areas: Accountability, education, impact and change.

First, this is a call for accountability. If we are to deem holding a Greek identity ethically just, within a system historically and systematically rooted in exclusion and oppression, we need to constantly hold those around us accountable for their actions. No one in our community should be able to use the Greek platform as a justification for improper actions. Everyone must be held accountable. Being a member of a Greek organization is a huge responsibility. We belong to an institution much larger than ourselves, and every single member’s actions inherently represent the culture of those organizations. If we are to consistently take credit for the great actions of our brothers and sisters, we cannot wash our hands of responsibility when incidents of hate occur. These hate crimes can no longer be viewed in a cultural vacuum: Greek life as an institution ensures that once you sign your bid, you are no longer viewed as an individual to your chapter but as a member of the organization.

Second, this is a call for education. We recognize that if we are to enact any meaningful change, we have to tear down much of the tradition and toxic culture that exists within fraternity and sorority life. Much of this comes from education. As students we enter Cornell — and for some eventually Greek organizations — from all parts of the world. Naturally, our exposure to initiatives of diversity and inclusion differ. Our awareness of their privilege differs. In addition, we acknowledge that particularly in Panhellenic and the IFC, unearned privilege is disproportionately concentrated. Our goal is to educate students beyond what they receive as a first-year student, such that their understanding of privilege, history, systematic injustice, sensitivity, and cultural differences can improve. The Greek system can not and will not be a platform to shelter them from such important knowledge and understanding. The plan below focuses a great deal on education.

Third, this is a call for impact. This plan must be concerted, effective and impactful. Evaluation and implementation is of utmost importance. This plan includes notes to both ensure the implementation of these initiatives, and to evaluate its effectiveness.

Fourth, this is a call for change. The Greek community at Cornell cannot continue under its current form. This plan is not only important, but it is entirely necessary.

We recognize this as an issue, and are here to take steps to solve it. We’ve partnered with different members and organizations across the communities, listened to the pain these incidents have brought them, and committed to support them through. As leaders of this community, we have the opportunity to create and enact these changes. This is what we are committed to doing and intend on making come to fruition.

 

II. Immediate Action Items

Demand that the administration never recognize the Psi Upsilon chapter on the Cornell campus ever again

Refuse to allow underground or unrecognized chapters to exist or flourish in Ithaca, no exceptions. Specifically, any chapter who is found including Psi Upsilon on its social schedule will be sent to the Greek Judicial Board immediately, with a social probation period of no less than 4 weeks. Furthermore, chapters who are found to have been hosting social events with this organization previously will be held responsible in the same fashion. Chapter leaders have been notified of this new policy.

  • Rationale: Psi Upsilon needs the support of the rest of the Greek community in order to exist, even underground. Once no other chapter recognizes or supports them, they will fade entirely.

Commend the alumni council of Psi Upsilon for their commitment to make their chapter house at 2 Forest Park Lane a resource center for the use of “student organizations at Cornell that are dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive student community.”

Pressure the administration to expel the perpetrators involved in the Psi Upsilon incident from the University.

  • Rationale: These students endangered the welfare of their peers. They committed a hate crime, by federal definition of the word. These students have no place on Cornell’s campus.

Send letters to the national headquarters of each Panhellenic chapter on campus to ensure organizations are aware that Psi Upsilon is not recognized on this campus and should not be hosting any events with other Greek organizations.

Encourage Zeta Psi to participate in a review of members.

  • Rationale: Zeta Psi must realign the values of its members with the values of its organization. In our opinion, the individual who shouted these words at the Latino Living Center has poor judgement and behavior running antithetical to Zeta Psi’s values.

-Encourage and evaluate the efforts of Kappa Delta as they continue to take action after an incident online when a racial slur was used against a student of color by a former member.

  • Rationale: After hosting an internal workshop on inclusivity in recruitment, a workshop with Cornell Woodson, diversity dinners in the chapter house covering topics of race, sexuality, and religion, and hosting a Breaking Bread facilitated by Dr. Renee Alexander, we support Kappa Delta in continuing these efforts to promote inclusivity.

Institute a community-wide online diversity training for ALL Greek members, to be completed by everyone before Spring recruitment. The vetting and organization of this training will be spearheaded by OSFL, and overseen and implemented by Tri-Council leadership.

Contribute funding towards the Intergroup Dialogue Project as part of our annual budget, effective for the next funding cycle.

  • Rationale: In the following plan, we require more IDP facilitation, and will contribute resources from our budget accordingly

 

III. First Quarter Action Items

Facilitate programming (IDP, Breaking Bread sessions) between Zeta Psi membership and the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, as well as a total membership meeting with Dr. Joe Burke in the Office of Campus and Community Engagement.

Collaborate with campus partners, including the Student Assembly, to endorse a provision for the Cornell Administration to hold individuals accountable for hate speech.

  • Note: In the case that this provision does not come to fruition in a timely manner, we support Dean Pendakur’s proposal for an “alternative dispute resolution system,” which will provide mediation efforts to address behaviors outside of the current Code of Conduct and apply to all Greek students

Suggest a provision to the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life’s expectations for membership, which outlines 11 basic expectations for continued membership within the Sorority and Fraternity community. This provision will state that the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life should have the authority to revoke the signing of a bid if members fail to meet these basic expectations.

Pressure the University to revive and expand BART (Bias Assessment Review Team)

  • Rationale: From our experience dealing with issues of bias, the process that is put in place to review incidents is flawed. There must be AT LEAST one paid, designated University official to oversee all reported bias incidents. This individual should expedite the investigation process, coordinate between parties, and ensure each and every bias report is handled to the very end.
    • Note: This proposal may be satisfied in part by Dean Pendakur’s proposal for an “alternate dispute resolution system,” as highlighted above

Include Dean Pendakur on the agenda for the entire Oct. 4, 2017 President’s Council meeting to speak with IFC chapter presidents.

 

IV. Second Quarter Action Items

Reform Delta Series planning with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

  • Rationale: Delta Series, the Tri-Council New Member Orientation Program, will be reformatted to closely address three major and pertinent issues we have identified in the Greek community: Diversity, mental health, and hazing. We will break Delta Series down into smaller, more interactive workshops of 20-30 students that will be facilitated by trained leaders of the Greek community and other campus organizations. To help train and facilitate, we are reaching out to the Intergroup Dialogue Project among other organizations on campus. Trained facilitators will lead groups within the three councils through ally training which will center around activities on understanding privilege, communication and allyship on campus.

– Two-fold plan around diversity:

  • To promote inclusion within chapters, both for existing members and in the hope of making the Greek community more welcoming and inclusive to individuals from diverse backgrounds in the future.
  • To give Greek members further education and insight to the broader social issues faced by students of color both on and off of Cornell’s campus, particularly in today’s political climate.

Revamp the requirements in “Total Membership Development Plans,” which are submitted to the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life before the new member education period. The new requirement will be to have individual chapters create membership expectations which specifically outline the consequences for incidents of bias, intolerance, or hate speech perpetrated by individual members. Chapters must also have at least ONE program within their new member education programming that addresses the topic of diversity and inclusion.

  • Rationale: This provision will require that chapters create workshops that are tailored to the specific needs and problems their respective chapter. This will discourage older members from “passing down” problematic language or behaviors to its newest members.

Establish a Vice President of Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives role on all three Tri-Council Executive Boards, effective the next election cycle. This position will be responsible for revamping the GUIDE program, implementing additional diversity and inclusion initiatives, and hosting an educational summit at the end of each academic year. The general roles and responsibilities of this position will include, but are not limited to:

  • Serving as an outlet for concerns related to diversity and inclusivity issues from chapters and individual members
  • Providing oversight to chapters on how to create effective, tangible change towards inclusivity in their organizations through collaborative partnerships, programming ideas, and sustainable change initiatives
  • Building and maintaining a close working relationship with recruitment chairs to promote inclusivity during recruitment processes
  • Overseeing chapters’ successful implementation of events, trainings, and presentation and hold those who fail to do so accountable
  • Highlighting cultural events occurring on campus, hosted by either Greek or non-Greek organizations and promote collaboration across such networks
  • Ensuring that all diversity and inclusion committee members from individual chapters receive training on allyship on an annual basis, ran by Karli Buday of Campus and Community Engagement
  • Identifying and escalating any reported incidents of bias to any and all appropriate channels, including but not limited to OSFL staff, BART, etc.
  • Providing guidance to members who would like to educate chapters or talk to individual chapter members regarding diversity and inclusion
  • Maintaining a high level of confidentiality with all personal issues and information
  • Working on sponsoring member experience events under the topic of diversity and inclusion
  • Hosting monthly and/or semesterly meetings between all diversity and inclusion representatives and the VP of Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives (introduced under “Third Quarter Action Items”).
    • Rationale: There is a need for a position in all councils to oversee the continued progress and maintenance of initiatives for equity and justice in our community and at large. Other campuses’ Greek councils have adopted similar positions in recent years and we feel that this position will reinvigorate efforts to continue programming in chapters, revive GUIDE, and host more inter-council and inter-organizational collaborative events.
  • Revive the Greeks United for Inclusion Diversity and Equity (GUIDE) Program. This program will be headed by the VP of Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives (introduced under “Third Quarter Action Items”).
    • Rationale: GUIDE helped develop Tri-Council events such as REDTalks, and bring together members of all three communities to discuss critical issues surrounding inclusive, diversity, and equity in Greek life. We believe that having a position dedicated solely to overseeing GUIDE will prove more effective than having this group run by the Tri-Council EVPs.

V. Third Quarter Action Items

Implement revived New Member Orientation (formerly known as Delta Series). This plan is highlighted and explained above, and will focus on diversity, hazing, and mental health which will provide a more comprehensive introduction to life within the Greek community. All new members will engage with peers across the Tri-Council and will participate in workshops to gain a fuller understanding of all facets of what it means to be a positively contributing member in their chapter and council. This will give them a baseline education on diversity and inclusion as their introduction to the Greek community.

Continue partnership meetings, holding meetings between key stakeholders and leaders in the following communities: ALANA Umbrella Organizations, Haven, and Tri-Council as well as the Student Trustees

  • Rationale: Third Quarter is when the Tri-Council Executive Board changes. In this transition period, the old Tri-Council members will ensure that the new ones continue partnerships with key stakeholders in these communities, such that connections and initiatives are not lost in transition.

Expand additional support services to all chapters

  • Rationale: Any chapter interested in providing additional trainings and support services to any member in their chapter will be able to connect to various University departments, which will aid in the facilitation of such services

Propose a resolution to mandate that all IFC and MGLC chapters have a diversity and inclusion chairs (similar to the model that Panhellenic uses, or the Greek Health and Wellness Chair initiative). These chairs will report to their respective council’s VP of Citizenship, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives, working and collaborating alongside their PHC and MGLC counterparts

 

VI. Fourth Quarter Action Items

Evaluate and assess the outcomes and impact of this plan at the conclusion of the school year. This will be done through compiling a progress report detailing the educational programming that each individual chapter has completed and ensuring the proper completion of both the online diversity training component and the New Member Orientation Program. 2018 Executive Board members are to meet with VP Lombardi, Dean Pendakur, Dr. Joe Burke, and Kara Miller to identify the progress made thus far as a result of this plan. Upon completion of this meeting, we will then proceed to gather input from key stakeholders and leaders including the Student Assembly, ALANA umbrella groups, Haven, and the Student Trustees and ensure that during the summer of 2018 the Tri-Council Executive Board will revisit this plan to continue its implementation the following fall semester.

Oversee the implementation of in-chapter programming and policy making relating to inclusivity. The newly created position of VP of Citizenship, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives for all three councils will be responsible for meeting with chapter leadership at least once a semester and holding organizations accountable to be taking proactive measures in addressing issues of intolerance, bias, and hate. The Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives will also host an inter-council meeting of all key stakeholders within the councils who oversee such initiatives so as to promote collaboration and idea generation during the Fourth Quarter. Chapters who fail to incorporate such initiatives into their semesterly plans will be sent to the Greek Judicial Board.

Host a presentation or report from Tri-Council leaders about what progress has been made with these initiatives, what feedback has been received, and how it can be improved over the summer for the following year.

Include a requirement for robust discussion of diversity inclusion initiatives in OSFL “End of Year” reports, which are presentations given to OSFL staff and administrators at the year-end.

 

VII. Implementation Plan

This plan will be shared with the 2018 Tri-Council Executive Board, once they are elected and they will work to ensure the implementation of the outlined objectives and goals. The effectiveness of this plan lies within the sound development and execution of its parts by the current and future Tri-Council Executive Board members.

 

VIII. Timeline

First Quarter: August through Fall Break

Second Quarter: Fall Break through Winter Break

Third Quarter: January through Initiation Deadline

Fourth Quarter: Initiation Deadline through May

 

IX. Scope & Conclusions

The scope of the authority and power of the Greek Tri-Council must be made clear. Student leaders on the Tri-Council  hold the authority to institute programs, regulations, and trainings for the benefit and education of our general membership. Within our own judicial system, we also hold the authority to sanction chapters for chapter-specific violations of event management guidelines and minor hazing allegations.

 

Never does the Greek Judicial Board have the authority to revoke the recognition of a chapter or sanction or expel individual members. Rather, these actions are taken by the University Review Board, or the Judicial Administrator, under the purview of the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, which is housed within the Office of Campus and Community Engagement and overseen by Ryan Lombardi. The incidents dealt with at this level are the most egregious violations. The recent incident at both Zeta Psi and Psi Upsilon reached this level. The investigations, interviews, incident reports, sanctions, and decisions are handled by the Office of Campus and Community Engagement.

 

By no means will this plan fix everything. Racism and discrimination are problems endemic to our society. Indeed, these are Greek issues; but they are also Cornell issues, national issues, and worldwide issues. And while the scope of these problems is vast, we will not stand by idly while people on this campus are hurting, and as their safety is put in jeopardy. We will work tirelessly to implement this course of action. And, while its results may come to fruition more slowly than any of us would hope, we are confident it will make a mark.

 

This is not the end of the plan, but merely the beginning. We will continue working with administrators and other campus resources to edit, revise, and implement these ideas.

 

X. Collaboration

Thank you to all our University partners who have given input, advice and ideas that were the bedrock of these initiatives. This plan was compiled by PHC President Caitlin Gleason, MGLC President Brianna Barrett, and IFC President Drew Lord, in partnership and collaboration with the Greek Tri-Council, other student leaders, administrators, and faculty.