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Undergraduates involved in UC San Diego’s student-led GUIDE initiative include (left to right) Colin King, Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s former director of equality, diversity and inclusion; Lauren Roberts, Alpha Chi Omega member; and Blaid Burgess, president of Sigma Nu. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Greeks United for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (GUIDE) Launched at UC San Diego

At UC San Diego, Greek life embodies values of leadership, service, intellect and lifelong friendship. With 44 social Greek organizations on campus, students have the opportunity to find their niche, and take part in experiencing a 200-year-old tradition. In addition, one of the main missions of UC San Diego Greek chapters is to bridge their organizations with the institutional missions of the university. Most recently, students in campus Greek chapters have taken the initiative to establish Greeks United for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (GUIDE) in an effort to educate their fellow students on diversity issues and advocate for social justice and equity.

GUIDE Logo

A student-led, ground-up initiative sponsored by Center for Student Involvement, GUIDE partners Greek life staff with the UC San Diego Community Centers to advocate for inclusive recruitment practices; provide education about social justice and equity, diversity and inclusivity issues; while heightening awareness of culture and equity-minded leadership. The Black Resource Center, Raza Resource Centro, Women’s Center, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center and Cross-Cultural Center are collectively known as the Campus Community Centers.

The Community Centers fall under the purview of Becky Petitt, vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “I am proud of our students for developing and moving forward with the GUIDE initiative,” she said. “The focus areas they have identified are campus priorities and their collaboration with the Community Centers staff is an excellent example of the innovation and synergy needed to ensure UC San Diego is welcoming to students of all backgrounds.”

Being a socially-just collective, not only in practice, but also in mindset, has been one of the priorities of UC San Diego’s Greek life. Greek leadership has implemented sexual awareness workshops, social justice programming and other topical discussions at Greek conferences. With GUIDE set in stone, Greek leadership believe the initiative will further reinforce their solidarity with underrepresented communities.

“When I first came to UC San Diego in 2010, I was disappointed to see the lack of action towards the Greek communities and the lack of resources for those individuals or groups that were hurt by cultural insensitivity,” said Colin King, fifth year student and Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s former director of equality, diversity and inclusion. “GUIDE is a tangible step towards tackling the wider issues in the community.”

The GUIDE team has developed three key focus areas for the initiative:

  • Education Summit: members of GUIDE will work with the Campus Community Centers to present historical issues prevalent within the Greek Community, such as racism and homophobia, and come up with solutions to address these problems.
  • Programming and Social Events: members of GUIDE will look at the impact of themed parties and events, and develop guidelines when it comes to planning and implementing these events.
  • Recruitment: members of GUIDE will analyze the exclusive nature of recruitment, and work towards finding ways to make it more inclusive.

Each UC San Diego Greek chapter in the Multicultural Greek Council, Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council will be involved in GUIDE’s three components. The Multicultural Greek Council consists of nine fraternities and eight sororities, with 350 members. The Panhellenic Council includes 11 values-based social sororities, with 1,000 members. The Interfraternity Council includes 14 fraternities, two of which are culturally based (one Jewish and one Muslim), with 1,000 total members. GUIDE members are working on a constitution that will include measures to ensure equity among the three councils in terms of principal membership—this includes one council leader and one chapter leader per council, making six principal members in total. Recruitment for position leaders among the councils will occur in the development of the constitution.

The GUIDE retreat is planned for April 26, which will bring the Greek community together to gain a comprehensive understanding of how they can get involved to help foster a more welcoming campus community. Additionally, members of the Student Affirmative Action Committee will be present at the retreat to provide an outside perspective for GUIDE members, and help provide additional knowledge on campus climate issues. All UC San Diego students are welcome to attend the GUIDE retreat.

“GUIDE will open dialogue about appropriation and appreciation and program inclusive events between our campus communities,” said second year student and Alpha Chi Omega member Lauren Roberts. “It’s important to me because this is the first time many Greeks on campus are having conversations about privilege and cultural appropriation.”

“When looking at the history of fraternities and sororities, bad headlines can overshadow the good,” added Colin Gerker, UC San Diego Greek Life advisor. “Now, it’s time for the Greeks to truly be inclusive.”

While GUIDE started as a grassroots movement, it is now evolving to be included in chapter and councils as a priority. For example, UC San Diego Greek Panhellenic Council extended duties of its vice president external to include EDI in the title and role.

“When I came to UC San Diego, my mission was to change the campus climate, move forward and take strides,” said third year student and president of Sigma Nu, Blaid Burgess. “GUIDE provides a space where people can bring up issues and topics they want to spread awareness about.”

A website for GUIDE is currently in the works. To find out more about GUIDE, contact Greek Life advisor Colin Gerker at cgerker@mail.ucsd.edu.