ASWSU calls for sensitivity training for Greeks

Atop WSUs College Hill, Greek Row is home to many of the schools fraternity and sorority organizations.


Atop WSU’s College Hill, Greek Row is home to many of the school’s fraternity and sorority organizations.

 ASWSU President Jared Powell released a statement yesterday afternoon urging Washington State to implement mandatory annual cultural competency and sensitivity training for all Greek chapters.

Additionally, the statement calls all students to delete the anonymous social media app Yik Yak from their phones, citing its inappropriate content and negative effects on the community.

Powell referred to a racial incident which took place at a social function in Phi Delta Theta’s house on the night of February 21. This was the first in a series of events that influenced the call for training.

“We find the words and attitudes of the fraternity member reprehensible,” the statement said. “We are pleased with Phi Delta Theta’s decision to expel that member immediately.”

This incident inspired a group of individuals to start WakeUpWSU, a movement intent on defending underrepresented groups. A silent protest titled the “Funeral of Ignorance” was held on Todd Steps the Wednesday after the incident to raise awareness.

Former ASWSU Vice President LaKecia Farmer, who was referenced in the statement, stood alongside ASWSU in support of the vigil.

“It’s great that people are speaking up as persons of color on campus,” she said.

Since the protest, Yik Yak has played a subtle role in fueling conversation about both the incident at Phi Delta Theta and the movement WakeUpWSU. ASWSU does not support any of the posts shared.

“This app full of anonymous, poisonous drivel has done nothing but weaken our bonds of community and denigrate members of our community,” the statement said.

Powell referred to the Panhellenic Council’s move to “Release the Yak” last semester, which resulted in a campaign lead by former Panhellenic President Madi Phillips, as an example to follow.  Current Panhellenic leadership supports this motion.

“We’re looking forward to working with ASWSU and the multicultural community to make our campus more culturally aware,” Taylor Christensen, current Panhellenic president, said.

Zak Cherif, Interfraternity Council president, similarly responded to the ASWSU statement, but would like to see it applied more broadly, he said.

“I am in agreement with the idea that cultural competency and sensitivity trainings have enormous value and can help work toward solutions for this campus-wide issue,” he said. “Considering the fact that this issue is larger than any one community, it is important to note that these programs are available for all students to grow and learn, and should be utilized by all students, not only the Greek community.”

Powell agreed it was not a Greek-specific problem, and said they would aim to reach all students if there was a feasible way to do so.

“I think this is a good thing, people think we are marginalizing the Greek community and that’s their prerogative,” Powell said. “That is not what I think we are doing.”

He added that similar trainings do take place during Alive! sessions, but that those are not the most effective way to impact students for this sort of sensitivity training. He said beginning with the Greek community was a good way to impact the community as a whole.

“The Greek community makes up close to 20 percent of the student population, it’s a huge chunk and it’s also the easiest way to engage students.”

Powell’s statement expressed ASWSU’s hope that the entire WSU community follows the lead of WakeUpWSU and makes the university campus a more accepting one.

“No student should ever be made to feel unwelcome at WSU,” the statement read. “We are all Cougs, and it is high time that we come together to help solve this persistent and pestilent problem.”

ASWSU will continue to sit down with leaders from the multicultural community and listen to how they believe ASWSU can improve their inclusion of all community members.