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Letter to the Editor: IFC plans to foster culture of acceptance within UCLA fraternities

By Derek Bergmann

Oct. 17, 2016 11:01 a.m.

Last Thursday the Daily Bruin editorial board called for Greek Life to combat a culture of racism and cultural insensitivity. This article is one of several published over the past year critiquing fraternities for misogyny and racism.

I will not attempt to defend my community from the charge of racism, because such efforts often distract from necessary change. Though I do not believe that racism or misogyny is wired into each of the 1600 members of Intrafraternity Council fraternities, I do believe that we perpetuate a system that favors individuals of privilege. Privilege becomes a problem when it is neither acknowledged nor discussed. For this reason, our leadership team has prioritized education concerning racial and gender identity.

Last year, partnering with community organizers, student leaders and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, we devoted considerable resources to a program that would bring Macklemore and Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, to campus for a panel on racial identity. That event was unfortunately cancelled due to the violent events on June 1, but we are hoping to support similar programs this year. We are hosting a town hall event that will bring together student leaders to explore topics of racial and cultural identity. Additionally, we are partnering with the Intergroup Relations Program next week to facilitate a dialogue concerning masculinity among our chapter leadership. We have also developed a long-term strategy that will foster greater philanthropic engagement, diversity and racial awareness in our community. This plan will include a number of need-based scholarships and will introduce communitywide educational programs regarding race and social issues.

Transforming organizational culture takes a long time, and to those who feel our efforts are not nearly enough, I ask for your assistance. We would love to partner with you or your organization in educating ourselves, and if you have ideas about how our community can improve or would like to be a part of the upcoming town hall, please do not hesitate to contact myself or other IFC executive officers. Know that we are trying, and our ultimate effort is to create an excellent community that will benefit all Bruins.

Derek Bergmann

Interfraternity Council President

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