Daily Egyptian

Fraternities, sororities campaign for discrimination awareness

By Diamond Jones, Daily Egyptian

SIU’s Inter-Greek Council joined the movement toward freedom of speech and expression with the “I Won’t Stand For” campaign to combat racism and other social issues on campus.

Greek students who participated Thursday received shirt that reads “I Won’t Stand For ___.” They then used a marker to write a social issue they oppose. 

The campaign started with USA Network’s Characters Unite, which lets anyone join the fight against intolerance and hate. 

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“When people are expressive, it sparks other people to be expressive and be involved in the conversation about issues that we face on campus,” said Rose Weisenstein, executive director of the Inter-Greek Council.

MORE: Minorities at SIU feel ‘accepted but not welcome’ | Chancellor responds to Facebook video detailing on-campus racism

Weisenstein, a junior from Belleville studying human nutrition and dietetics, said she wants to show people that fraternity and sorority students engage in more than partying. She said with this campaign, she wants to show that any acts of discrimination are unacceptable, especially when it’s done by Greek members.

“It’s been a long time coming to address these issues,” Weisenstein said. “I know racism has been on this campus for a long time and in the shadow, and now it’s finally getting light.”

Weisenstein said more than 500 shirts have been distributed to students and more were ordered. Students covered their shirts with phrases against violence, homophobia and bullying.

Characters Unite is also an award-winning public service program with the support of leading national nonprofits, which backs activities and messages that prevent these acts. The organization goes against prejudice and intolerance while promoting understanding and acceptance online and in communities across the country, according to its website.

“I stand against malice, which is any wrongful intentions on another person,” said Logan Anderson, a sophomore from Rockford studying business in health management. 

Anderson, who has experienced bullying, said participating in such events has made him stronger and more involved campus.

Mustafa “MJ” Abdullah Jr., a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity, said SIU has a sense of unity, but he thinks it can be more connected. 

“We all got accepted here and we should work together and accept everyone no matter what background, so that we can all be better together,” said Abdullah, the assessment and recognition coordinator for the Inter-Greek Council.

Abdullah, a senior studying marketing, said the recent racism and discrimination on campus awakened him to the reality of issues affecting black students such as himself.

He said as painful as it may be for the school, people must accept that these issues exist and use these conversations to make the university better.

Anderson, the issues and awareness coordinator of the Inter-Greek Council, said on-campus racism is seldom acknowledged without proof. He said if students stand up, make videos and speak about it, they’re guaranteed to be recognized.

“Your campus should feel like your home, and there’s so much diversity and minorities on campus, and for them or anyone to feel discriminated against is terrible,” Anderson said.

With this campaign Weisenstein and Anderson want to make Greek life appear more positive. Anderson said people see the organizations as predominantly white filled with partygoers who are bound to drop out. 

He wants people to know Greeks care about the community.

“We hope that this movement keeps going and others have the opportunity to speak out and continue to spread awareness,” Weisenstein said. 

Diamond Jones can be reached at [email protected]

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