Pi Lambda Phi holds 'Recognizing our Prejudice' event

Open mic event focused on students’ feeling of safety in Greek life

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Students passing by the event had the opportunity to fill out a survey online to help the Inter-Fraternity and Inter-Sorority Councils gauge student feelings on safety at their events and spaces.

Courtesy Pi Lambda Phi

The fraternity Pi Lambda Phi was out in the cold Sunday afternoon to hold their open mic event “Recognizing Our Prejudice” in the Amphitheatre. 

The fraternity’s brothers and attendees gathered to hear about how some students have reported they feel unsafe in Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council spaces like fraternity houses. 

The way students responded to the white nationalist rallies on Aug. 11 and 12 sparked the event as a way to confront underlying issues in the fraternity environment, according to Patrick Talamantes, a fourth-year Curry student and Pi Lambda Phi’s vice president.

“I was across the country on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, but I was texting the people in the house telling them to make sure people knew they could come into the house and get off the street. They said ‘Why would people want to come into the house?’” Talamantes said in an interview. “I was shocked that community members wouldn’t feel safer in our house than out on the street.”

While there were no participants for the open mic, Talamantes shared anonymous stories submitted online detailing students’ negative views on the fraternity community. 

“Even though I’m mostly talking to my own fraternity, it’s still a message I think they should hear,” Talamantes said to the people gathered.

“Fraternities and sororities are organizations that are inherently and historically linked to white supremacy and exclusivity, and today function as a way to create exclusive spaces for partying under the guise of philanthropy and service,” one statement read.

The fraternity brothers there said they found that they were confronted with uncomfortable truths about how people feel about the fraternity community, even though they haven’t been personally confronted with them.

“I don’t think anyone has brought that to my attention,” second-year College student Chris Oliveira said. “I think there’s a vibe in the community that those problems exist.”

“This is sort of the first time I’ve ever encountered people feeling uncomfortable at fraternities,” fourth-year College student Robert Roth said in an interview. “It’s been kind of eye-opening for me.”

The event is trying to continue the discussion that stemmed from the events of Aug. 11 and 12, according to Oliveira.

“We’re moving forward from the more visceral, emotional side of things to try and actually reach those solutions, for instance the demands that the Black Student Alliance made after the event of Aug. 11 and Aug. 12,” Oliveira said. “Looking for solutions for the future, and eliminating the problems from our communities.”

Talamantes highlighted the need for there to be more engagement between students involved in Greek life and the wider community.

“There’s Nazis on the street, there’s white supremacists on the street, and we’re not sure if our community would feel more safe in our house than on the street,” Talamantes said. “So when we talk about not being a part of these issues, we all sort of complicity recognize that there is an issue and we are a part of the problem. So rather than simply subconsciously going with it, let's talk about it.”

On Nov. 15 and 19, Pi Lambda Phi will be hosting workshops for Charlottesville and University community members to educate Greek life members on how to help community members feel safe in IFC and ISC spaces. Students passing by the event had the opportunity to fill out a survey online to help the Inter-Fraternity and Inter-Sorority Councils gauge student feelings on safety at their events and spaces, something Talamantes referred to as a “temperature check for how safe people feel.”

“Spoiler alert,” Talamantes said about the feedback received thus far. “They don’t feel safe.”

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