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The National Panhellenic Conference, the umbrella organization that oversees sororities, recently passed Unanimous Agreement X, a piece of legislation intended to “[protect] the right of NPC member groups to remain women-only organizations.” Apparently, this means sorority members are no longer allowed to have a role in fraternity recruitment.
A “unanimous agreement,” according to NPC’s website, is signed by each member organization’s national (or international) president, and states each sorority’s intention to abide by “certain procedures and ethics, which lead to orderly and ethical conduct.” The agreements are binding to all alumnae and collegiate members of each of the 26 member sororities.
Unanimous Agreement X, adopted in November, is the most recent of these. It states that “each College Panhellenic shall denounce the participation of Panhellenic women in men’s fraternity events when or where the primary purpose is recruitment.”
The biggest implication of this new rule is that sorority members are no longer allowed to wear rush t-shirts. Seriously. Any shirt promoting a specific fraternity individually is now off limits for each and every sorority member on more than 620 college campuses in the U.S. and Canada.
How the NPC plans to enforce this is beyond me. Every day I’m on campus, I see dozens and dozens of girls wearing fraternity letters. The only way I can see this working is if all the individual chapters buy into it, which I expect to happen at roughly the same time hell freezes over. Who can blame ‘em? If some governing body that oversees an organization I’m a part of suddenly decreed I could no longer wear what I want, I’d be pretty livid.
Along with rush shirts, fraternity sweethearts are now outlawed and sorority women are not permitted to “do all the work” at fraternity recruitment events, according to an educational pamphlet NPC released on the agreement. These restrictions are at least a bit more reasonable than the all-out warfare on freedom of expression that is forbidding people from wearing what they choose.
Most of the 10 Unanimous Agreements reached by NPC since 1902 are pretty straightforward: creeds, jurisdictions, standards of conduct, and the like. This one, however, is the only one with an added section explaining the “rationale” behind it. They say the primary purpose of the rule is to “protect women’s fraternities single-sex status.” Here’s an excerpt from the rationale:
NPC and our member groups have an ongoing responsibility to publically [sic] demonstrate that our recruitment, education and initiation of our members into our organizations is without need or dependence on others — especially those of the opposite sex.
I can’t imagine how limiting what your members can wear demonstrates your independence from others. I’m interested to see how sororities react to this. If I were to put money on it, I’d bet rush shirts will still be a common sight on campuses.