Open letter to the community

Earlier this week Phi Psi Fraternity distributed bids (invitations) to members of the college community to join the fraternity. Since before 2006, the fraternity has used this bid template, the image of which the school is now familiar: a mosaic of small photos of nude and semi-nude women that collectively compose the fraternity lettering.

We recognize that many members of our community are upset and hurt, and regret that we didn’t consider the harmful nature of these invitations. The images and the messages they send are degrading to women and offensive to the campus community at large, and for that we sincerely apologize to all.

Last spring, students raised concerns with the practices and attitudes of our institution, including heteronormativity and the objectification of women. We intend to change this perception, as well as work to eradicate sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination not only in our house, but also throughout campus.

The overwhelming response from the community has prompted us to begin extensive internal conversations, and we are making a wholehearted effort to better our understanding, respect, and appreciation for these issues. Our conversations have begun with developing a new recruitment policy that fully reflects our commitment to reinforcing the values of the College.

Additionally, we look forward to engaging with the entire student body in future conversations. We are in the process of developing a clear partnership with the administration, one that can foster action and education for our group. To this end, we’d like this letter to be the beginning of a new norm of communication from Phi Psi, one that handles criticism seriously and with grace.

Some of our current in-house initiatives include collaborating with other campus groups to bring Jackson Katz, the well-known anti-sexist activist, to campus, and mandating diversity and consent workshops for all pledges. We would like to add to this list as the year progresses, and are open to suggestions from the community at large. On that note, we would appreciate that public criticism not implicate individual members, but instead be directed to Phi Psi.

Finally, we understand that the process does not end here; that the aforementioned sentiments are real, entrenched problems in the Swarthmore community and in the world.  It is our duty to hold ourselves to a high standard of behavior. We have failed to do this. Moving forward, we welcome constructive criticism and are committed to pursuing open dialogue with the campus community.

 

Zach Schaffer ’14, Phi Psi President

Ishaan Sutaria ’14, Phi Psi Vice-President