Section: News

AΣT confronts gender disparities

by Mary Sawyer

1987: the year women entered Greek life at Kenyon College. Since then, three other sororities have joined Greek Council; however, the legacy of the male majority in Greek life persists to this day.

Greek Council passed a proposal by Alpha Sigma Tau (AST) on Monday, April 27 to launch a committee that will discuss issues of gender inequality within the voting process on the Council and, subsequently, Greek Life as a whole. Greek Council is majority male, being comprised of one delegate from each of the seven fraternities, four sororities and one co-ed society. The new committee, a subset of Greek Council, will serve to “research and propose possible recommendations to the gender disparity of Greek Council,” as recorded in Greek Council minutes.

Laura Kane, director of student activities and Greek life, said gender inequality on the Council results from the fraternities having a majority, as there are more fraternities than sororities or societies on the Council. Kane said it is possible for fraternities to completely outvote the other organizations based on sheer member numbers alone.

According to Manjul Bhusal Sharma ’16, outgoing president of Greek Council and a member of Delta Tau Delta, “Gender balance in the council has been fairly even, which is surprising, [because] we do have fewer sororities compared to fraternities.”

Sruthi Rao ’16, president of AST, said the committee will not have any power to make decisions, but “everything that [the gender equality committee] proposes or recommends, Greek Council then will have to, as a whole, discuss, as all the delegates and all the members, and vote on,” she said.

Gender inequality on Greek Council, according to Madelyn Cook ’17, president of Zeta Alpha Pi, “hasn’t manifested itself in any way.” Rao ’16 and Carolyn Sowa ’16, AST’s Vice President of Community Relations and Greek Council delegate, also said they could not speak to the specific examples of gender inequality on Council. Rao and Sowa explain that the anonymity of the Greek Council voting process causes any potential gender disparity to go unseen in the final tally of votes.

According to Cook, the gender disparity lies within “dirty rushing,” which is when a fraternity or sorority breaks recruitment rules outlined by the school and engages new members before the official rush season. Rao, Sowa and Yost said they could not speak to the issue. Though no sources could provide specific examples of gender inequality that occurred on the Council, AST’s proposal is intended to prevent any future issues that might arise.

Bethany Yost, educational consultant at Alpha Sigma Tau national sorority, will be advising the ASTs throughout the process of organizing the committee.

“The logistics for actually forming the committee haven’t been thoroughly discussed yet, since it was just passed,” Yost said, referring to how AST would comprise the committee.

Peter Granville ’16, president of Phi Kappa Tau, said the fraternity would love to join the new committee.

“Society is always changing, so I think there’s a responsibility that we have, [that] really any student organization has, to stay in touch with the national conversation,” Granville said, “and right now that is gender equality.”

Kane will have an active presence on the committee. “I would probably be involved in coordinating the meetings and folks represented on the committee,” Kane said. “I would want to make sure I’m at that table so I can bring in perspectives that they should consider.”

A potential way to facilitate the conversation in the new committee, according to Kane, may be to look at how other schools have attempted to combat gender inequality within their student organizations.


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