Passionate President Tackles Sorority Diversity at AU

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Anna Waldman, 21, showcased the AU Panhellenic Council logo on her Zoom background (Sasha Fernandez).

By Sasha Fernandez

Usually sorority recruitment on American University’s campus is a rush of fun with chapters setting up tables to meet incoming students. Yet this year, for President of the Panhellenic Council Anna Waldman, 21, she said she was hesitant to initiate it.

Waldman’s role at Panhellenic, the intermediary party between the university, the national branch and the college’s nine sororities, has begun in the wake of students calling for the abolition of Greek life on campus. These calls came as two viral, Instagram accounts posted student submissions of stories of sexual assault and racism on campus with a majority of these posts referencing abusive actions made by members of sororities and fraternities.

Waldman, who handles advertising recruitment and collecting names of interested students, said that the combination of these allegations with the termination of in-person classes at the university has limited Panhellenic’s rushing efforts.

“We didn’t want to just go about things as normal because they weren’t,” Waldman said. “They’re not normal.”

Waldman said that improving diversity in AU’s sororities is a pressing issue for her and the organization. She said that historically sororities started as predominantly white organizations and they have continued to be this way. In fact, 95% of members of historically white sororities and fraternities identify as white, according to a 2014 research study.

Waldman said that as part of improving diversity efforts within Greek life, Panhellenic will be its first VP for Diversity and Inclusion this year. In addition, she said that she hopes to expand the existing Panhellenic book club to include literature by Black authors, including former AU Professor Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist.”

While Waldman is a CLEG major with an interest in government, she said that she refrains from expressing her political beliefs publicly, because she represents Panhellenic (a non-profit apolitical institution).

However, she said that she could defiantly say that biggest issue facing the country, and one that has impacted recruitment, is the spread of COVID-19.

“No matter who wins in November, no one can do anything without addressing COVID and trying to tackle it,” she said.

While Waldman said she will soon begin to advertise recruitment for sororities this year, she said that the impact from COVID-19 will certainly make the process “interesting.”

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