After vote not to attend Women's March on Washington, ISC to hold separate march in solidarity
ISC voted to hold rush during march, Change.org petition seeks to explore other options
After voting in November to maintain formal recruitment’s schedule despite it conflicting with the Women’s March on Washington, the Inter-Sorority Council is planning a march in solidarity with the Washington march to take place after rush.
The ISC governs the University’s 16 National Panhellenic Council sorority chapters. The result of the vote and the planning of the alternate march has prompted a Change.org petition asking for chapters to pardon members who miss Preference round, the last round of formal recruitment, to attend the Washington march. The decision has wide-reaching effects: the ISC boasts well over 2,000 members, and women who rush in the spring, largely first-years, typically number more than 1,000.
Fourth-year Architecture student Emily Votroubek, the outgoing vice president of recruitment, said she and the ISC Cabinet Board brainstormed options to accommodate sorority women and Potential New Members wishing to attend the Washington march after receiving an email from a member concerned about the conflict.
Changing the recruitment schedule, which Votroubek began planning in February of last year, would have meant pushing the Preference round and Bid Day back a day. This would have created difficulties such as sorority women and PNMs missing Bid Day activities for classes and rescheduling travel arrangements for national chapter advisors, Votroubek said.
“The discussion to reschedule Preference round was challenging because there were members who personally felt we needed to support the attendance of Women’s March on Washington,” Votroubek said in an email statement. “There is a long list of organizational hurdles that would need be cleared in order to move the event and some of which would initiate additional fees and/or financial penalties.”
After being notified of the vote the afternoon of Nov. 16, with an outline of pros and cons of changing the date provided by the ISC executive board, each sorority had a little more than five hours to cast its vote via survey form, and how each chapter chose their vote was up to their executive boards’ discretions. After a discussion before the executive board elections, the majority of the chapters voted to keep the schedule as it was.
“Based on our discussions with chapters, the majority of chapters indicated they didn’t want to change the schedule,” Votroubek said. “Thus, we, the ISC — as representatives of all U.Va. sorority women — opted to leave the schedule as it was.”
Second-year College student Claire Golladay began a Change.org petition, which as of press time had about 250 signatures, asking for the ISC to forbid chapters from fining sorority women who forgo recruitment for the Washington march. Fines for missing recruitment can total $250 a day, depending on the chapter.
“Coming together as an organization to support women's rights and general sisterhood, despite recruitment, will signal to the ISC's current and future members that we continue take an active stance in favor of the core pillars of the Panhellenic institution and its
continued legacy of women's empowerment,” the petition read.
Golladay said she had emailed the ISC executive board on the conflict between recruitment and the march. She said she thought the vote to move the recruitment schedule was not as publicized as it could have been.
“As I did not want to hurt any one chapter's recruitment, I decided to implore the ISC to allow for a Panhellenic support of the women's march on Washington via a petition to have tangible evidence of the support of sorority women and via emailing the ISC executive board directly,” Golladay said in an email statement.
Golladay said she also thought there could have been an option beyond changing the recruitment schedule, prompting her to create the petition to prevent fining of sorority women attending the march.
“It seems contradictory to me that an organization — the ISC, ostensibly supportive of women's rights and empowerment — would dissuade its constituents from attending the women's march due to mandating [a] round of rush and thus possible fines or other retributions by chapters, depending on each chapter constitution,” Golladay said. “I hope to convince the ISC to issue a statement forbidding chapters from penalizing their members for opting to participate in the women's march.”
The idea for a local march to be scheduled after formal recruitment came about in the discussions regarding the possible schedule changes. Incoming ISC President Rory Finnegan, a third-year College student, said planning a march in solidarity aligns with the ISC’s principles.
“It was noted that the underlying missions of the ISC are similar to that of the march; as such, we discussed the possibility of holding an event in Charlottesville with a focus on women's rights,” Finnegan said in an email statement.
So far, the planning of the local march has made significant progress — the incoming ISC executive board is currently getting the route through the final approval stages with the police and has planned warming houses with sign materials, hot chocolate and snacks for before and after the event. The ISC is working with the Class and Greek Councils.
“Our goal is to host an event that unites our women in support of women’s rights,” Finnegan said.
Claire Creighton, outgoing ISC president and fourth-year Commerce student, said the idea of the march has been well-received by the chapters.
“Our current executive board sees the march as an avenue for women's empowerment, which aligns with the ISC's pillars and thus wanted to provide the U.Va. community a chance to share their solidarity with one another and for female empowerment,” Creighton said in an email statement.