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Phi Delta Theta Takes Immediate Action to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

08.05.2020

To address the racial equity issues within our society and any diversity and inclusion concerns within Phi Delta Theta, the Fraternity recently formed a Diversity Working Group that focused on two distinct areas: education and programming and policy and communications. Approximately forty undergraduate and alumni volunteers, representing diverse demographic backgrounds and unique perspectives, participated in discussions related to race, equity, and the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion within the Fraternity.

As a result of these conversations, a summary report of participant feedback and a list of recommendations was created and then submitted for review by strategic advisors Dr. Michelle Allen, Diversity Education Director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Marlon Gibson, experienced fraternity and sorority professional and doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia. The recommendations were then provided to the General Council for consideration.

The General Council met July 16–17, 2020 and thoroughly reviewed the report. After careful consideration, the General Council took the following immediate actions:

  • Created the volunteer position of Diversity and Inclusion Commissioner and appointed Brother Austin A. Deray, Mercer ’10, to serve in this capacity. In addition to advising the General Council and General Headquarters staff, the commissioner shall be responsible for overseeing all educational programming, policy recommendations, and communication efforts related to diversity and inclusion initiatives on behalf of Phi Delta Theta.
  • Designated and defined an undergraduate role (chapter officer) responsible for advocating for diversity and inclusion within the chapter, on campus, and in local communities.
  • Approved the recommendation from the Diversity Working Group and the Survey Commission to adopt new terminology for burgeoning groups. The use of Colony will be replaced with Emerging Chapter and initial members of these new groups will now be referred to as Founders.
  • When evaluating recipients of chapter excellence awards, the Awards Committee will include new criteria in the application that places value on the promotion of diversity and inclusion efforts and programming.

Other areas recommended by the working group for continued review and consideration by Brother Deray, the General Council, and the General Headquarters Leadership Team include individual, new member, chapter, and conference education with a focus on cultural competency and implicit bias training, specific language to adopt that would explicitly prohibit the display of divisive symbols on chapter premises and at Fraternity-sponsored events, collaboration with interfraternal partners, diverse identity and first-generation scholarships, and enhanced communication strategies featuring members of color.

We are grateful for the interest, efforts, and insights of all those on the Diversity Working Group. Though these actions represent significant progress, we realize there is more to be done, and we look forward to continuing our work together to create positive change and a culture of diversity and inclusion for every member of Phi Delta Theta.


Diversity and Inclusion Commissioner – Austin A. Deray

Austin A. Deray is a PhD candidate in cultural studies at George Mason University, currently working on his dissertation research on students of racial and ethnic identities within historically White fraternities. He received his MA in European history with a concentration in medieval history, and an MA in gender studies, and his thesis entitled: “The Old Boy Mentalities a Look into Southern Fraternities,” at Armstrong State University, where he was a lecturer in the gender studies department from 2014–2018.

Brother Deray currently works in the Office of Graduate Student Life at George Mason, working on all leadership and advising initiatives for his unit. He is the adviser to the Graduate and Professional Student Association, the student government for graduate students, and his portfolio includes the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within this office. Austin is a frequent facilitator and mentor within the LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) office at George Mason, facilitating groups and conversations around diversity and inclusion topics including: oppression, racism, Blackness, policing, racial triangulation.

Brother Deray was initiated into the Georgia Gamma Chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Mercer University in February 2007 and held officer positions in both his chapter and on the IFC board. He was hired on, after graduating in 2010, as the Greek life intern at Mercer for the 2010–11 academic year. Deray has served the Fraternity as chairman of the advisory board for both the Georgia Epsilon Chapter and the District of Columbia Alpha Chapter and is now the Delta North province president. He has served as a faculty member of both the Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute and the Presidents Leadership Conference and presented on “Recruiting Students of Diverse Identities and First Generation Students” at both.


Working Group Membership:

Education and Programming:

Braden Ash, Puget Sound ’20
Collin Bell, Wabash ’17
Christopher Chambers, Hofstra ’20
Lawrence Daves, Hofstra ’13
Kwesi Essilfie, CSUN ’15
Jelani Gandy, Stockton ’21
Josh Gastineau, Washington College ’22
Carlito Herring-Forchion, IUP ’20
Aaron Hollis, Valparaiso ’17
Joshua Langston, Dalhousie ’21
Richard McCoy, San Francisco ’21
Oscar Moncada, Georgia Southern ’21
David Ndozi, West Georgia ’18
Donald Schenk, McDaniel ’71
Todd Simmons, Akron ’17
Moe Stephens, Southern Indiana ’99
Adeyemi Thomas, Chicago ’21
Devin Thornton, Georgia Southern ’19
Matthew Wittress, Butler ’23
Brandon Wong, Idaho ’19

Policy and Communications:

David Almacy, Widener 92
Daniel Baluch, Seton Hall 22
Steffan Barahona, Washington College 21
M. Keith Brown, West Texas A&M 91
Andrew Crosby, Puget Sound 17
Felipe Cuatecontzi, Wabash 17
Christopher Dann, Chicago 21
Austin A. Deray, Mercer 10
Michael Dike, Mercer 22
Rob Eberly, Kent State 70
Malique Elder, Nova Southeastern 18
Carlos Gregory, Hofstra 21
Justin Holmes, Campbell 17
Pierrie Jefferson, UNK 15
Javier Jurado, Johns Hopkins 21
Dustin Liu, Cornell 19
Sammy Mah, Kettering 82
Anthony Mai, Wichita State 18
Gerrin McKinnie, Millersville 19
Reganold Robinson, Stockton 22
Greg Rush, UNC Charlotte 19
Rasheen Underwood, Montclair State 21
Paul Vernick, George Washington 21
Bob Wolfley, Southern Indiana 10

 

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One thought on “Phi Delta Theta Takes Immediate Action to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Congratulations and Kudos Brother Deray for taking on such a monumental and important role. Indeed it’s a good direction and bold undertaking that will strengthen Phi Delta Theta. No doubt your path will be challenging, but not un-travelled. I remember years ago when the Fraternity made another monumental pivot, and that was to go dry, implementing aggressive anti-alcohol policies in all its chapters. It was a bold step then, and one I feel the organization has benefitted from.

    As you embark on this journey,I hope you will consider the most glaring form of discrimination in the Greek system today…the role of gender. As a new father of two girls, I now find myself at odds; wanting to support my old Chapter but knowing that my girls will not be able to benefit from my patronage. Sure opportunities exist in Women’s Fraternities, but should we not be moving past any forms of institutional discrimination? After all, our workplaces and public institutions are not gender specific, so what is the purpose in teaching our youth how to lead in a gender specific environment?

    It would be a bold step for Phi Delta Theta to become gender (and otherwise) inclusive, and certainly full of challenges, but as my favourite saying goes…fortune favours the bold! I hope you will consider my comments with an open heart and open mind.

    Best of luck in you new role! Yours in the Bond,

    Josiah Jordan
    McGill 2006
    QUA 1040