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UW-Madison feminism magazine calls to abolish all white fraternities on campus

In a recent article by the University of Wisconsin student-run publication Bell Magazine, its authors call for the abolishment of what they call “predominantly white Greek Life” at the school.

Bell is a feminism and gender minorities magazine which serves “as a microphone for the voices who have all-too-often been muted,” according to its website.

According to the piece, written by three white female students who were previously members of Greek life at the school, predominantly white Greek life is racist and exclusive while offering a recruitment process that is superficial and problematic.

The piece ties in information from the founding of the first fraternities in the 1800s, which excluded women and minorities, leading to the creation of sororities and establishing fraternities as an “endlessly controversial system.”

Its authors advocate for the abolishment of white Greek life in the Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council at the school, but state they do not support removing the Multicultural Greek Council or the National Pan-Hellenic Council solely due to their status as safe spaces for people of color.

Representatives from Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council were unavailable for comment when asked by The College Fix.

An Instagram account titled @bipocatwisco, which documents instances of racism at the University of Wisconsin, is also cited in the article as the account has received multiple submissions from members of predominantly white Greek life members, all of whom have reported individual instances of racism in the organizations.

“Not saying there aren’t incredible people in Greek life, many of which I call friends. However, the overall system is not very welcoming to BIPOC,” one anonymous student told the account.

Molly Kehoe, editor-in-chief for Bell Magazine and co-author of the article, told the UW student newspaper The Badger Herald that after finding an Instagram account called @abolish_greeklife, she knew the only way to fix Greek life was to remove it from campus entirely.

And Bell Magazine managing editor Maya Cherins, another co-author of the article, added: “When it comes down to it, you can try to reform, but you’re not going to reverse a system that was built on patriarchy, white supremacy, transphobia, heteronormativity.”

Cherins, in the Bell Magazine article, explains she “dropped PHA Greek life because I no longer wanted to contribute to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia and classism, when these are constantly the behaviors I am working to demolish.”

Kehoe wrote in the Bell Magazine article why she dropped out of Greek life as well, calling it “a tangible example of the systemic racism that plagues our country,” among other critiques.

According to The Badger Herald, however, abolishing Greek life on campus may not be enough to end frats, as many do not officially associate with the University of Wisconsin. Were frats to be all together removed from the school, they would likely just unassociate with UW and continue business as usual.

Asked for comment, campus spokesperson Meredith McGlone said “Fraternities and sororities, like all student organizations at UW, are created and led by students. There is no university-led effort to remove these student organizations.”

McGlone also said students in Greek life are prohibited from discriminating on a sexual or racist basis.

“All registered student organizations at UW–Madison are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, sex and a number of other factors – see section 2 of the Student Organization Code of Conduct. (Note that federal law does allow social fraternities and sororities to restrict their members based on sex.) Reported violations are acted on by the Committee on Student Organizations, which is comprised of students, staff, and faculty,” she said.

“Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association leaders made new commitments this year to educate, discuss, and engage members on racial inequities.”

MORE: Northwestern students want Greek life abolished, accuse it of white elitism

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About the Author
Jackson Walker -- University of Wisconsin Madison