Greek Life Vision continues to progress, almost one year later

Baylor houses nine Panhellenic chapters which all strive to improve diversity and inclusion. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

The Baylor Lariat published an article on Sept. 2, 2020, about the new Greek Life Vision—a plan by Student Activities that was designed to improve Baylor’s Greek life with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). While the original goals of the plan were meant to be seen three to five years after it was implemented, this year’s update discusses the small and big changes made on Baylor’s campus since the article’s release.

National Pan-Hellenic Council president and Aurora, Colo., senior Sam Onilenla spoke on the changes he has seen at Baylor since the fall of 2020. The NPHC was originally mentioned in the article with the hopes of highlighting its organizations through the lens of the Greek Life Vision.

“For Black History Month, they were definitely proactive in making sure student voices were heard in why Black history is important to us and exposing the campus to more Black history,” Onilenla said.

During Black History Month, on Feb. 22, multiple chapters within the NPHC were highlighted in a “Baylor Proud” article. Another specific highlight Onilenla spoke of was a video called “What is stepping?” Uploaded on March 1 to Baylor’s Youtube channel, the video spoke about the history of stepping—“a historical form of communication and storytelling widely performed by Black Greek organizations that belong to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.” The caption of the video states that it features Dahron Mize of Tau Alpha Alphas, or Alpha Phi Alpha, which is a chapter within the NPHC.

Onilenla spoke about specific examples of highlights and increased DEI that have happened for NPHC and the organizations within it since the implementation of the plan. One such example was Student Activities funding the Royal and Pure Homecoming Stroll-Off—an in-person event showcasing step-dancing or strolling, an integral part of historically African-American fraternities and sororities.

Onilenla also commented on changes within the Baylor community as a whole, speaking on his own experiences the past few weeks.

“Even the Interfraternity Council president, Jackson Anderson, he’s definitely been more engaged in our council,” Onilenla said. “We even had a talk about how our councils have similarities and differences … and how we could break the barrier that’s there.”

Onilenla said there are multiple organizations besides the IFC that have more engagement in conversations and a desire to collaborate. Onilenla highlighted the importance that having such conversations holds in continuing to bring DEI into situations.

“It’s just having the conversation,” Onilenla said. “That’s all it took Jackson and I to understand each other’s councils and understand what we wanted to do … It just takes, on an individual basis, those conversations to happen for diversity, inclusion and equity to be brought up to the table.”

Black Faculty and Staff Association president Jasmine Jennings also spoke about increased equity and inclusion on campus overall.

“I’ve been working here since 2019, and I feel like every year the conversations have increased, whether in my own department or the entire university,” Jennings said.

Student Activities was unavailable for comment, but its five pillars of change according to its Greek Life Vision are to tell the story of Greek life, celebrate diversity, engage advisors, provide safe spaces to gather and continue training and advocacy.