On April 10, Tri Delta members joined 250 fraternity and sorority undergraduates and alumni in Washington, D.C., as part of the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition (FGRC) to advocate on Capitol Hill on behalf of the fraternity/sorority experience.
The FGRC is a collaborative effort between the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the Fraternity/Sorority Political Action Committee (FSPAC) which advocates for federal public policies that allow fraternities and sororities to continue their role developing the leadership skills, community engagement and academic support needed to transform today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.
Representing Tri Delta on Capitol Hill were collegiate members: Morgan Bedford, Pepperdine; Jordan Devorak, Kansas State; Megan Krynen, Mississippi; Gina Rotunno, South Florida; and Emily Varady, Arkansas. Joining them were Tri Delta alumnae who serve as volunteers or Executive Office staff members: NPC Delegate and Past President of the FSPAC Sarah Coons Lindsay, Miami/Ohio; Executive Board Director Lenora Oeters, Cincinnati; Delta Xi House Corporation volunteer Teresa McKinney, Missouri; Vice President of Development and Philanthropy Beth Burkes, Wake Forest; Vice President of Marketing and Communications Mindy Tucker, Southern Methodist; and Content Manager Amanda Milford, Texas/Arlington.
Past Fraternity President Phyllis Durbin Grissom, Southern Methodist, is serving as President-Elect of the FSPAC. During the Capitol Hill visits, students and alumni attended more than 450 meetings with members of Congress to advocate to protect students’ freedom of association rights and to eradicate hazing on college campuses. This year, there were three important pieces of legislation being introduced to support these efforts: the Collegiate Freedom of Association Act, the End ALL Hazing Act and the REACH Act.
The Collegiate Freedom of Association Act (CFAA) is Congress’ response to universities – most notably Harvard University – that are trying to restrict students’ freedom of association rights. The CFAA preserves students’ ability to choose the organization that they want to be a part of, protects their right to join a the single-sex organization and provides equal treatment for all student organizations. The goal is to have the CFAA included in the Higher Education Act reauthorization.
Another major focus on the Hill this year was anti-hazing efforts. Research shows that hazing prevention is best accomplished through comprehensive measures, including proactive education, as well as transparency and accountability for organizations that allow hazing to occur. The two anti-hazing bills, the REACH Act and the End ALL Hazing Act, require greater transparency from institutions of higher education and student organizations in publicly reporting incidents of hazing.
The meetings also served as an opportunity for participants to share the value of the fraternity and sorority experience with their elected officials. Tri Deltas shared stories of their own personal growth through their membership and the numerous opportunities Tri Delta provides them for professional development and leadership – including this chance to advocate as part of the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition.
A highlight of the visits for the Tri Delta delegation was the opportunity to meet with Tri Delta alumna Rep. Kathy Castor, Emory, who serves as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 14th congressional district. Reflecting on her experience, Megan shared, “My experience with the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition Capitol Hill visits was amazing! It furthered my professional development and gave me new experiences in a field that I have interest in pursuing in the future. I was able to meet with 10 different offices on the Hill and lead a meeting about a topic I am very passionate about, my single-sex organization experience.”
“The Capitol Hill visits completely blew me away, and standing up for issues I truly believe in showed me that I can make a difference if I am passionate enough!” said Jordan. “I met other fantastic Tri Deltas who pushed me out of my comfort zone and stood by my side even though we had just met. This trip truly showed me how strong our sisterhood is, no matter what chapter we come from.”