Following the murder of George Floyd, William Jewell College’s chapter, Zeta Phi, of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (FIJI) organized a fundraiser for the Southern Poverty Law Center and We Love Lake Street and is also creating a new inclusion committee within the fraternity to start in fall 2020. In the letter to The Hilltop Monitor, written on behalf of the Zeta Phi chapter of FIJI, Jamie Briscoe, senior chemistry major, and Jack Still, senior economics and political science major, describe the decisions and the conversations that ultimately led the fraternity to act.
In the weeks that followed George Floyd’s tragic death, the members of our House looked on with both consternation and pride as protesters flooded the streets in support of racial justice. The distress, pain and grief seen on the face of each protester served as a reminder of America’s long history of transgressions against people of color. But, at the same time, the unity and desire for progress displayed through these peaceful demonstrations deeply inspired us just as they have moved leaders elsewhere across the country to initiate change.
Like many others in the Jewell community, we began seeking out both individual and collective opportunities to lend our efforts to the cause. Some of us attended peaceful protests right here in Kansas City, while others donated to anti-racist organizations leading efforts to combat hatred and discrimination.
One thing, however, was clear: our brotherhood – along with the rest of Greek Life and the Jewell student body – demonstrated a willingness to take a stand against racism that has not been seen at such a scale before. It has become evident that our generation will bear the responsibility of finally delivering true equality to all people without regard for their race. And, if the actions taken by Jewell students and young people across the country are any indication of our ability to successfully do so, we have tremendous faith.
It will take sustained and committed action from those who benefit most from the status quo. We must all be willing to exchange our current comfort and privilege for a type of progress that, in the end, frees us all from the unforgiving burden of systemic racism. Here at the Zeta Phi chapter, we believe that Greek Life everywhere has a substantial and unique role to play in fighting for racial equality in communities across the United States.
That is why we followed the lead of many sororities and fraternities nationwide, releasing an official statement attesting to the ways in which our values commit each member of our brotherhood to anti-racism. After a few days, though, we began to realize that it would not be sufficient for us to only vocalize our collective stance outwardly into the community.
Our chapter understands that if we truly hope to make an impact at such a pivotal moment in history, and to achieve a greater level of understanding and acceptance within our own brotherhood, it is necessary that we also look to do our part in serving worthy causes and striving to make the required changes internally.
As a start, we have created a fundraiser to support both the Southern Poverty Law Center – a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that aims to expose hate groups and provide education on tolerance – and We Love Lake Street – a charity seeking to rebuild and reopen small businesses affected by the death of George Floyd. Our chapter plans to match every donation made to this Go Fund Me fundraiser up to $1000. The total amount raised will then be split between these two causes. It is our hope that members of the community at Jewell will chip in what they have and share our efforts to reach as many people as possible.
At the beginning of the fall semester, we also plan to introduce a brand new inclusion committee dedicated to maintaining a healthy and welcoming atmosphere in our House. The history of racial discrimination, homophobia and other forms of exclusion is a story that is all too familiar for Greek Life. Zeta Phi hopes to work with our fellow members of Greek Life and the entire community at Jewell to permanently end this trend and place fraternities and sororities at the forefront of the fight for equality.
Donate to the fundraiser using this link.