Wednesday, September 9, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Importance of Modeling the Way to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

As colleges/universities unveiled a myriad of re-opening plans for the fall academic term, students were caught between a desire to return to campus or to continue remote learning amid coronavirus fears. These re-opening plans ranged from in-person learning, remote classes and a hybrid model. But, as students began to return to campus, COVID-19 hotspots began to emerge resulting is some institutions moving to fully virtual classes.

#StopTheDrops that transmit COVID-19
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is committed to assisting our College Panhellenic women to be leaders in helping to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community. As leaders on campus, we are encouraging sorority women to educate themselves by reviewing the COVID-19 information provided in NPC's #StopTheDrops health promotion campaign. Information can be found at npcwomen.org/stopthedrops and includes fast facts, resources on virus transmission, the #StopTheDrops video and other resources. It’s also important to review current college/university policies and guidelines from state and local agencies in order to be knowledgeable about local restrictions and guidance. What are the requirements for wearing masks, distancing, in-person gatherings, visitors, traveling and returning to campus?

Collaboration with other student leaders is another important element in leading the way in modeling safe behavior. How are other student leaders talking about the pandemic within their organizations? Being proactive and working together to #StopTheDrops will help stop the transmission of COVID-19 on your campus.

NPC was also proactive when it shifted its procedural guidance for campuses to transition to a fully virtual recruitment experience. As health concerns continued to rise, we then extended this guidance to all fall and spring recruitment campuses. Panhellenic recruitment hosted through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year should be hosted as a fully virtual experience (recruitment events through electronic bid distribution.)

Most recently, the 26 member organizations that comprise NPC agreed to direct all collegiate chapters to ​​transition all chapter-sponsored Bid Day activities (i.e., gatherings and celebrations following bid distribution) to a fully virtual experience for the next 30 days (through Oct. 9, 2020).

All of this said, it is important that we all–collegians and alumnae–take the lead in modeling safe behavior. The perception that sorority women are responsible for spreading COVID-19 because they are socializing in large groups without masks is prevalent. College Panhellenics and member organizations are successfully planning and implementing safe membership recruitment in a virtual manner, but large in-person Bid Days and off-campus gatherings have affected the well-being of individuals and those which whom they have interacted.

As sorority women, we play an important role in providing opportunities for members to connect and deepen friendships, deepen engagement with the university and engage in lifelong learning. But during this time of uncertainty, great care must be taken to limit and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

It is my hope that we will all do our part to assist in preventing the spread of this virus so our collegiate members can enjoy the interaction they so deserve and experience what sisterhood is all about in meaningful ways.


Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Monday, August 24, 2020

#StopTheDrops That Spread COVID-19

Sorority women are making it our mission to stop the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Follow #StopTheDrops on social media for educational resources, and help take action to stop the transmission of COVID-19 on your campus and beyond.

Watch the video to learn about the problem of shared air and how you can prevent the
transmission of the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. #StopTheDrops

 
Additional resources for College Panhellenics:
NOTE: While the #StopTheDrops content is geared toward sorority women, it applies to a wide audience. Even for campuses that have moved to a fully remote experience, stopping the spread of COVID-19 is still an important topic. Students may still live nearby each other or be traveling to meet in person, raising the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Remembering Sorority Suffragists

In honor of the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment, we take a look back at some of the suffragist sorority women who paved the way for the future generations of women*. These 10 sorority women took action to make change and create a platform for women to continue to advocate for women's rights. The women we talk about here are just a fraction of the sorority women who used their voices to effect change and demand women's right to vote. In addition to being advocates for women’s rights, many of them were leaders in the fields of education, government and more. They not only paved the way for women to exercise their right to vote but served as role models for future generations of women. 

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Photo Source:
Smith.edu

Ada Comstock Notestein

Ada Comstock Notestein, a member of Delta Gamma, was president of the American Association of University Women for two years. She also served as the first dean of women at the University of Minnesota and the first full-time president of Radcliffe College, a position which she held for 20 years. In addition, she convinced Harvard to accept classroom coeducation in 1943. As an advocate for education, Comstock helped hundreds of women earn a bachelor’s degree at Smith College. Part of Ada’s legacy is that she strove to help women in higher education achieve their goals. She now has a scholarship named after her for young college-aged women to achieve those same dreams. 


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Photo Source:
AliceDuerMiller.com
Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and her writing skills took the suffrage movement by storm. She wrote poetry that had a huge impact on the movement and even wrote a column called, Are Women People? This column became a catchphrase for the suffrage movement. She followed that collection of columns with one called, Women Are People! Her illustrations and written works made her a known activist within the women’s suffrage movement and a pivotal voice in the U.S.

Photo Source:
 NPS.gov


Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw

Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Shaw was one of the first female Methodist ministers in the United States. She met Susan B. Anthony in 1888, who encouraged her to join the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her great work also led her to be the president of the NAWSA, where she and Anthony worked closely together to advocate for women’s rights throughout the movement. She also played a key role in the merging of two suffrage associations and this was the first time in decades that unity between organizations had happened within the suffrage movement.


Carrie Lane Chapman Catt


Photo Source:
Catt.org
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt was a member of Pi Beta Phi and played a large role in the passage of the 19th Amendment and American women’s right to vote. It was Carrie who came up with what was known as the “Winning Plan” that coordinated state suffrage campaigns that lobbied for women’s rights, which helped ensure the development of the constitutional amendment. She helped found the League of Women Voters that gave women a platform and voice on political issues. Carrie was also the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900 to 1904 and again from 1915 to 1920. She also wrote about the history of the suffrage movement that was published in 1923 called, Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement.


Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Ph.D.

Photo Source:
Franbecque.com


Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Ph.D., was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was a strong activist and voiced her support for women’s rights, racial equality and lifelong education through her activism. She even enlisted help from her sisters to aid in war-relief in France after World War I. After the war, she was head of the U.S. committee that allowed people to have the option to refuse to perform military service due to the freedom of thought, conscience or religion. Dorothy also worked for years trying to improve education reform and worked closely with the women’s prisons to do so. 


Edith and Grace Abbot


Photo Source:
Geni.com

Edith and Grace Abbott, two sisters who were both members of Delta Gamma and each had a tremendous impact on the suffragist movement. Edith became the first woman to become dean of an American graduate school. She was committed to advocating for social reform and welfare and spent a lot of her time doing so. She and Grace both moved to what was known as the Hull House, which was a community for educated women with scholarly and revolutionary thinking. Grace wrote and published a number of scholarly articles and government reports that contributed to women’s rights. 


Photo Source:
Plainshumanities.edu
Grace Abbott, like her sister Edith, strove to advocate for women’s rights and improving children’s welfare, especially those who were immigrants. She was also the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government for over a decade as the head of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Grace became the first woman to be nominated and to hold a presidential cabinet position for the Secretary of Labor. A lot of her research and works were used in helping to make policies involving child labor laws across the United States.




Photo Source:
Franbecque.com

Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield 


Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, who also served as Kappa Kappa Gamma’s president. She worked alongside Carrie Lane Chapman Catt to found the League of Women Voters. But, her push for the 19th Amendment didn’t stop there, as she was one of the seven women who chartered the Woman’s Suffrage Party of Greater New York. 



Photo Source:
Franceswillardhouse.org

Frances Willard 

Frances Willard was another suffragist who was a member of Alpha Phi, and like Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield, held the president position. Frances was also the president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Before she was elected president of the WCTU, she became the first corresponding secretary for the organization. She spent endless amounts of her time traveling to speak and give lectures advocating for women’s suffrage and home protection. Frances also helped found the World WCTU in 1888 and became the president just five years later. 



Mary Ritter Beard 


Photo Source:
Franbecque.com

Mary Ritter Beard, who was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She was a leader and activist in many areas such as education and women’s rights. Mary was a member of the Women’s Trade Union League, the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, the New York Suffrage Party and the Wage-Earners’ Suffrage Party. On top of her long list of involvement, she was also on the advisory board of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, also known as the National Women’s Party. 


All of these women and many others made endless contributions towards women’s rights and what led to the 19th Amendment. They created a platform and even used their resources as sorority women to voice their thoughts and make a change in the world. They are an inspiration to women today on how you can make the world a better place, or at least your part of it. 


*The National Panhellenic Conference recognizes the 19th Amendment didn’t expand the right to vote to all women, but as women’s-only organizations we want to highlight the role our members played in the amendment’s passage and acknowledge it was a significant first step for all our members.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: We hear you and we are listening.

Dear friends,

We hear you and we are listening. Topics of diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and access have been an integral part of NPC’s strategic conversations, but the importance of these topics on college campuses and among our members have supported our need to shift from conversation to action. This work is not easy, and steering a ship with 26 member organization in it, each with different perspectives, sometimes may seem slow and awkward, but it is a challenge we are undertaking with sensitivity, humility and diligence.
 
As you may be aware, the NPC Board of Directors has appointed an NPC Access and Equity Advisory Committee, which will provide us with recommendations and guidance on increasing access to the sorority experience and equity across policies and procedures. This will include consideration of norms and practices that create barriers facing potential members based on racial identity, ethnicity, LGBTQ identity, religious beliefs, ability and socioeconomic status, among others. The committee’s work will complement efforts led at the NPC member organizational level regarding membership policies, programming and practices.

Committee members represent a range of identities – based on race, ethnicity, religion, age and ability – and also represent varied Greek-letter organizations. Their insights and perspectives will be critical as we make ours a community in which all women can engage as their full selves. View the committee announcement.

 
As this group begins its work, the Board of Directors and committee members will host a series of listening sessions in August with various NPC constituencies including College Panhellenic leaders, fraternity/sorority advisors, collegiate members and alumnae regarding access and equity. This is the first step in our journey to drive real change that reinforces the foundational values and strength of the Panhellenic experience.

In addition to the work of the committee, NPC has engaged the Cross-Cultural Fraternal Advising Institute Collaborative team to facilitate a virtual education session for collegiate sorority members titled “Cultivating a More Inclusive Recruitment Experience and Addressing Implicit Bias.” More than 470 participants are now better positioned to act with integrity across all aspects of membership growth, development and experiences. Soon, we will share the recording and a resource guide with all College Panhellenics so those who could not attend live will have the opportunity to benefit.

NPC leadership will also continue to engage with experts in the field of diversity, equity, inclusion and access to increase their knowledge of DEI factors and set a common language and framework for NPC’s DEI initiatives.

Moreover, NPC will continue to engage its other advisory groups – the Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Advisory Committee and the Student Advisory Committee – to provide their input and feedback related to NPC’s actions regarding diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

To report on the progress of NPC’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including the work of the Access and Equity Advisory Committee, a new page has been added to our
 website.

As we continue our work in creating greater equity within and access to the sorority experience, difficult and meaningful conversations are taking place and new resources are being developed for our College Panhellenics. It is important work that will assist us in confronting racism and considering the structural and systemic reasons that too many women do not view our organizations as places where they feel welcomed, understood or heard.

During a conversation the Board of Directors had with Syreeta Greene, MSW, Ed.D., director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Multicultural Affairs, Midwestern State University, she stated, “The road to diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey not a destination.” NPC is committed to that journey.


Panhellenically,




Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman

Perspectives: What Sorority Means to Me

Sororities have always been a place for women to gather, build friendships, support academic pursuits, develop leaders and provide a sense of belonging. As the needs of women have changed, sorority has adapted to fit those needs. Today, while class instruction and the sorority experience may look and feel different on many campuses due to COVID-19, sorority is adapting to provide these benefits and the opportunity for real, personal connections through a virtual experience. Through it all, sisterhood and the benefits of the sorority experience remain.

Here are some of those benefits as voiced by collegiate members:

"My sorority helped me turn my college campus into a place that I can call home. These women started as strangers and are now some of my closest friends in the world. And, I know I can look to them to help in every aspect of my life – from academics to life advice." 
-Patricia, Tulane University (in a Her Campus/TheSororityLife.com Instagram story video)


"One of the things that I have loved most about being in my chapter has been the support system. More specifically, my sorority family has been my best support system ... These women are always here for me when I’m feeling down, need advice or just want someone to talk to and have made me feel at home, while being so far from home."
-Bridget, University of Tennessee-Knoxville (full story)

"I was worried about losing that connection with my sisters when we left campus (in spring 2020 due to the pandemic). But, I’ve found a new appreciation for our sisterhood. Sisterhood is in the little things. The texts, the FaceTime calls and the memories we create together make me that much more grateful to have my sisters in my life!"
-Bri, NPC intern for TheSororityLife.com (full story)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Facing Challenges, Adapting to Changing Times - Together

Dear friends,

With the arrival of the 2020 fall term just around the corner, it’s without question that the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and its 26 member organizations are facing unparalleled challenges. As we make the necessary adjustments required by COVID-19 and to also address the conversation taking place within the sorority community about the legacy of racism within the Panhellenic system and the nation at-large, it’s a time that calls for unprecedented self-reflection.

Yet, as NPC continues to advocate for the sorority experience and works to preserve the single-gender experience, we need to remind ourselves that we are stronger and more powerful together as we face the new academic year head on. This is not the first time NPC and its member organizations have faced challenges and rapid change.

NPC and our member organizations have stood in solidarity and overcome the challenges presented by two world wars, The Great Depression and The Great Recession, waves of traditionalism and anti-fraternity sentiment and many other threats our existence. (To learn more, check out 
Adventure in Friendship on the NPC website.)

Today, the Panhellenic community is confronting new challenges including importantly taking stock of how we can and must more substantively and candidly engage about race, while actively confronting racism within our community. NPC’s new Equity and Access Advisory Committee will recommend and guide the Board of Directors on how to increase access to the sorority experience and equity across our policies and procedures. This shall include consideration of norms and practices that create barriers facing potential members based on racial identity, LGBTQ identity, religious beliefs, ability and socioeconomic status, among others. The committee’s recommendations shall be designed to complement efforts led at the member organizational level regarding membership policies, programming and practices.

Additionally, the COVID crisis has forced us to experience a very different way of living and learning, and has once again challenged us all to be flexible and innovative. As students return to campus in the fall, the safety of our members, volunteers and campus professionals with whom they interact is a primary concern and focus for NPC. We are developing a return to campus health promotion campaign which will including social media videos and accompanying educational resources for use by College Panhellenics and individual chapters in an effort to ensure our members will be illustrating care for all students of our campus communities.

Given that fraternities and sororities can often set the tone for campus social life, a return to “business as usual” is not acceptable and we are committed to empowering Panhellenic women to be leaders in helping to maintain healthy campus communities. By adopting safer behaviors, NPC members and chapters can help reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community.

Further, as our College Panhellenic Associations and officers prepare contingency plans for hosting a safe recruitment on their campus, NPC is providing counsel on virtual recruitment platforms and expanding outreach and engagement activities to potential new members (PNMs). The Promotion of the Sorority Experience (2020) – POLICY, approved by the Council of Delegates in May, was adopted so all sorority members, alumnae and collegiate, were able to attract potential new members to the sorority experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. 



Since its approval, the implementation of this policy has resulted in many questions, concerns and examples of how members and chapters of our organizations are communicating with potential new members beyond the spirit of the new policy.

Communication should continue to be in line with positive Panhellenic contact and not promoting one organization as “the best.” The policy is intended to promote communication between members and potential new members about the overall sorority experience, not for members and organizations to promote solely their own organization and experience.

Chapters should engage women who have not yet registered for recruitment, not those who have already registered. College Panhellenics will continue to engage and keep PNMs informed about recruitment logistics and schedules as well as keep them engaged with recruitment counselors and other Panhellenic personnel.

The policy also provides the ability for collegiate and alumnae members to actively show their sorority affiliation and not be forced to delete social media accounts, cover up their membership or be penalized for talking about their sorority experience. It is not giving members the opportunity to host events or Zoom calls to engage PNMs with the purpose of getting to know them during recruitment-like events.

For more than 115 years, NPC and its member organizations have remained relevant because of the deep friendship offered by individual fraternity and Panhellenic life. As we have demonstrated many times over, together we will face our challenges head on, rise to the moment and adapt to changing times – and we will be better and stronger for it.

Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman

Monday, June 15, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Three Considerations for Addressing Racism in the Panhellenic Community

Dear friends,

I write to you this month during a period of sincere reflection and sadness—in our nation and within our community.

The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among far too many others, are challenging each of us, and the organizations to which we belong (Panhellenic and otherwise), to more substantively and candidly engage about race and confront racism.

For the members of the National Panhellenic Conference Board of Directors, the time and place in which we find ourselves has called for clear acknowledgment that racism—within society and within the Panhellenic community—is not an issue we can address simply through kindness or greater respect for one another (as important as those may be). Instead, we must carefully consider the structural and systemic reasons that too many women of color do not view our organizations as places where they feel welcomed, understood or heard.

Our approach must change, and the Board of Directors offers at least three considerations we must confront if we are to honestly reconsider our path forward as a conference and a community of Panhellenic women:

First, our organizations do not reflect the diversity that our Panhellenic communities hope to achieve.  As a community, we don't make ourselves broadly attractive to women of color and we have too often fallen short in supporting our Black and Brown sisters.

The reasons for this are numerous and grounded in a clear history of past discrimination. It is vital, however, that we confront the reality that the lack of diversity within our ranks is not an accident. Decades of narratives, norms and practices have made the “typical” sorority experience understood through a white lens. This is uncomfortable to consider, but it is true.

Second, we believe that we must consider—and change—the systems and norms within the Panhellenic community that have historically benefited and centered the experiences of white women and women of privilege, more generally.

The manner in which we respond to this second area will determine whether we will ultimately make progress in the first. We know that many of our member organizations are already engaging in some of this work. As a board, we recognize these changes at the organizational level must reflect each organizations’ values, culture and sense of purpose. However, as a Panhellenic community, we must acknowledge that we are tied together, and creating lasting change will require each of us to re-evaluate long-standing assumptions about how we operate, recruit and support collegiate sorority women.

Third, as a Panhellenic community, we have an obligation and responsibility to empower our members and volunteers and to openly discuss race and racial injustice.

For many of us in the Panhellenic community, we become reserved and hesitant when race or racism are discussed. In many cases, we have been taught that “we don’t see color” or to “treat everyone equally.” These feelings and sentiments are sometimes understandable and often well-intended, but—as the members of the board have learned—their effect is to ignore and brush aside the many ways that race does shape our society and create unequal experiences within our community. If we are to prepare and empower young women as future leaders, and particularly if we are going to fully embrace BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and LGBTQ+ Panhellenic women, we must no longer shy away from or be fearful of these critical conversations.

As we consider each of these areas, and others that will no doubt arise, we also ask for some grace. We, as a community, will stumble as we work to find our way. But our hope is that we can drive real change that reinforces the foundational values and strength of the Panhellenic experience.

In the near term, this will likely mean difficult and meaningful conversations, the creation of new resources and a commitment to support and work with College Panhellenics as we consider the themes addressed in this note. In the long term, it will require us to continue critical conversations with our Black and Brown sisters, as well as those who advocate for and support them, in order to develop and implement new approaches, policies, agreements and expectations.


For more than 100 years, the National Panhellenic Conference has been an organization that advances the sorority experience together. It is clearer than ever before that our ability to do that effectively now—and to empower collegiate women in the current moment—calls us to reimagine what “together” truly means.

We are humbled by the many comments and experiences shared within our community in recent weeks, and we remain optimistic about our ability to join together in creating a welcoming, inclusive Panhellenic community that our current and future members deserve.

Panhellenically,




NPC Chairman Carole J. Jones with NPC Directors Mary Baker, Cheri De Jong, Laura Doerre, Rie Hoehner, Malaea Seleski, Laura Sweet and CEO Dani Weatherford