So I’ve given a brief preview of my experience so far at UF but I should shine light to specific and impressionable moments during my time here. The most recent would be rushing a sorority this spring.
I knew joining a Panhellenic social sorority was going to be different but I also knew joining a Multicultural social sorority wasn’t for me. So I decided to follow my sister’s lead and rush her sorority, something I am so glad I did.
This past weekend, I had to attend a mandatory Panhellenic new member orientation meeting where one of the major discussion topics was about diversity. In a room full of white and upper-class female students, there was a quiet but noticeable tension in the air once the adviser of Panhellenic mentioned diversity.
It is known throughout the nation that Panhellenic sororities are predominantly white, where women of color are lightly sprinkled through each chapter. It was interesting to see Associate Director of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs Reginald Lane bring up diversity to a room that definitively lacked diversity. However, I am extremely glad it was brought up — I was ready to speak up.
Being given the platform to talk about diversity about an environment where I am one of the few Latinas in the chapter, I took the opportunity to try and open the eyes of my Panhellenic peers. In the room full of new sorority sisters, there were about 3 Latinas, a small handful of Asian women, and not one black woman. This meant it was up to the few of us to speak up — something that myself and a fellow Latina were not ashamed to do.
It was tough at moments; I was unsure how to phrase things but it was things that needed to be said. I heavily brought up race into the discussion of diversity but socio-economic status was also discussed. Being part of a lower working-class family, my experience in a sorority is limited since Greek life is expensive.
Most girls were understanding when it came to problems of not being able to afford things but hearing things regarding a woman of color’s experience in Greek life, it was a shock to them. I had a Panhellenic sister come up to me afterwards and thanked me for speaking up because I had opened her eyes about issues she didn’t understand before.
It was interesting seeing that one of the aspects that Panhellenic is working hard to improve is increasing diversity within all the chapters and I genuinely appreciate their efforts. I am hopeful to see more Latina sisters in Panhellenic before I graduate.
I wish for other Latinas to feel empowered by their sisters just like my sorority sisters have empowered me.