Diversity Within Our Panhellenic Community
What comes to mind when you hear the words “sorority girl”? And what does this have to do
with being a girl at the University of Toronto?
The truth is that there really is no “one size fits all” when it comes to us Greek women. Meaning
that those tropes you’ve seen in the movies are super far off from what Greek life really is. And
most of what you see in movies is depicting American Greek life, which for the record (spoiler
alert!) is completely different from Canadian Greek life.
In my first year, I was thinking about going Greek; however, like many, I was aware of the
stereotypes. But once I went Greek, I realized that my assumptions couldn’t have been more far
Our community is made of strong well-rounded women from a range of backgrounds and
dreams; some of us are entrepreneurs, others are involved with UofT on a larger scale, and
some of us are social activists -the list goes on. But at the end of the day, we are all women that
simply want to become their best selves. Kierra Burke, a second-year student at UofT, and
member of Alpha Phi’s 2020 pledge class expressed how her chapter discusses important
matters and embraces diversity. She told me about how she was able to see this even as early
as during fall recruitment.
“At alpha, phi pledge class 2020 was very diverse with wonderful women of all backgrounds!
One thing I love is that my sisters aren’t afraid to have difficult conversations and work together
to educate ourselves and work towards change!”
As proud students at the University of Toronto, we prioritize academics. Each of our seven
chapters hosts study sessions and rewards sisters for good academic performance. Going Greek
not only allows you to build strong and meaningful relationships with well-rounded women, but
it also offers many opportunities to grow as leaders.
Mariam Dhanani, another recent pledge, but from the Beta Psi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma
had this to say when it came to how she felt about the diversity and drive in our community.
“Despite only being in the Greek community for a brief period of time, I’ve seen many
movements towards supporting diversity and inclusion. From simply looking at the Greek
community, we see an extremely diverse group of women within our chapters and taking on
leadership roles within their respective chapters and panhel. This support goes beyond the
diverse group of sisters, I believe that within the Greek community we too see a range of
diverse thought. Sisters are encouraged to share their ideas and experiences and are supported
by other members while doing so.”
I’m proud of our current efforts for diversity and the changes we’ve made in our community so
far, but as the new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I can’t wait to make our
community even stronger and more accepting.
Shayndel Jim, a recent alumna from UofT’s Alpha Gamma Delta chapter had told me how our
community creates an inclusive and accepting place for all members, regardless of background.
“Despite Greek Life being founded on the backs of white people and their ideals, the Greek
community at UofT has made noticeable strides towards creating a more diverse and inclusive
community for people of colour. In my sorority, I have never once felt like I was wanted to
simply fill a diversity quota. There is a difference between trying to create an inclusive
community by ignoring ethnic backgrounds to show we aren’t different vs. celebrating and
appreciating the different ethnic backgrounds that contribute to our different life experiences
that make us who we are, and I definitely feel that ΑΓΔ and the Greek community at UofT as a
whole does the latter.”
As VP of DEI and a Woman of Colour myself, I understand how important it is to create a
welcoming community. I have so many great ideas for how we can all embrace our differences
and how we can inspire women to be their most authentic selves.
One idea that I would love to implement in the future would be a community-wide
multicultural festival. Our Greek community at the University of Toronto is so diverse and it
would be a lovely experience to showcase, honour, and appreciate our differences to each
other. With tackling concerns around discrimination, I plan on creating an anonymous tip
submissions page where PNM’s, new members and actives can express concerns they have in a
safe and private place. This will allow us to tackle issues as a community, that our Greek women
want to address so we can make our society even better than it already is.
Going Greek was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It has given me
amazing relationships and support systems, but most importantly, it’s inspiring me to become
the person I am becoming. I hope that more students at our university can realize how Greek
life enhances their experience and how welcoming our community is.
- VP DEI Rucheeta Krishnan