APA, IFC and NPHC come together to talk DEI in Greek life


CW / Jacob Ritondo

Members of Greek chapters participate in discussion on DEI, which was moderated by Yechiel Peterson and William Skull of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Jacob Ritondo, Contributing Writer

Members from organizations associated with the Alabama Panhellenic Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council gathered at the UA Student Center on Nov. 2, to discuss the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in APA sororities and the entire Greek system.  

Seniors Yechiel Peterson and William Skull, both members of the NPHC-associated Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, moderated the discussion, alongside Arman Sheffield, who serves as the director of DEI for the IFC.  

Speaking to a group of over 30 APA sorority members, Peterson, Skull and Sheffield gave advice for how to approach difficult subjects such as race relations in Greek life.  

Commenting afterwards, Peterson said that he wished “more people would get comfortable … being uncomfortable” with these types of discussions.  

“I wish more people would come to face their ignorance a little bit more. … It’s hard to admit that you have ignorance. … I have trouble with that every day myself,” he said. 

The group discussed what is being done and what should be done to foster deeper relationships between the traditionally white APA and IFC chapters, and the traditionally Black chapters of the NPHC. Many in attendance mentioned dinner swaps their sororities currently host with NPHC organizations, but expressed a desire for their sororities to do more to strengthen ties with NPHC organizations.  

One suggestion was a plan to create a group chat among DEI representatives from APA, IFC and NPHC organizations to better coordinate events involving the NPHC groups. Ideas for events included partnering with NPHC sororities during homecoming week for pomping and other activities. 

The group also discussed previous incidents that illustrated the need for DEI in APA and IFC organizations. 

Among those who spoke up were members of the Alpha Phi sorority. Last December, one member was kicked out of the chapter and its president was removed from her position following the public disclosure of text messages that many deemed to be racist. Recalling the controversy, the members emphasized that the senders’ actions did not represent the sorority as a whole.  

After the meeting, Chloe Harrell of Alpha Phi explained how she did not know about the controversy until entering the chapter.  

“They told me what had happened, and it was shocking because the girls I was surrounded by in the house did not seem anything like those girls,” she said. 

While the meeting mainly focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in terms of race, Peterson and Harrell spoke afterward about the state of DEI for LGBTQ students. 

After the meeting, Peterson discussed how many times, LGBTQ issues of diversity, equity and inclusion get overlooked by NPHC organizations. 

“I think we’re worried about a lot of other things. And so [LGBTQ issues] always come at the tail end. But for sure … I believe we can do a better job hosting things that are more welcoming towards [LGBTQ],” Peterson said.  

In contrast, as Harrell indicated, “In a few of the [Alpha Phi] DEI events, they have talked about [sexual orientation] … and they have been very supportive about it.”  

The event sparked a dialogue that Skull said he hopes will continue.  

“I think there is progress being made,” Skull said. “I hope this is the beginning of more things like this. I feel like when these things start to happen more often, hopefully, we’ll be able to … specialize each different one. Because when you tackle it broadly, you miss out on some intricacies.” 

To that end, Skull said, “from what I understand, there won’t be any more [roundtables] this school year, but more of these roundtables are in development.”