Abolish IFCPH movement gains steam on campus

Ori Tsameret, Intersections Editor

This summer, several Instagram accounts centered around the abolition and removal of Greek life organizations, specifically Interfraternity Council and National Panhellenic Conference organizations on different campuses, started taking off. This summer, a similar Instagram account and GroupMe message popped up calling for the disbandment of Tulane’s own Greek life system. Annie Buck, a Tulane student and part of the organizing team behind Abolish IFCPH Tulane, stated that the movement on Tulane’s campus took inspiration from and collaborated with students conducting similar work at similar institutions such as University of Richmond, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis.

The student makeup of this movement consists of individuals from a variety of involvements on campus, drawing Undergraduate Student Government, Tulane Black Student Union, and Community Engagement Advocate program participants, among others. Additionally, several of the student activists involved have also done work with the Student Action Group and the movement to Abolish TUPD as “IFCPH organizations are not isolated from these larger systems of oppression that are affecting so many people,” Buck says.

The immediate campaigns that Abolish IFCPH Tulane have been pushing have been centered on pushing individuals to disaffiliate from their respective IFCPH organizations as well as pushing individual organizations to disband. Noting that there are already Greek organizations that are officially disbanded but continue operating “underground,” the students involved are also hoping to hold Tulane accountable for their presence on campus. In the long term, however, the end goal of the movement is to sway the administration into eradicating IFCPH in its entirety.

In response to claims that Greek life offers an avenue to involvement in philanthropic aspirations, Buck said that “Even though these organizations are involved in philanthropy, it’s philanthropy that mostly supports white people, and is not necessarily invested in the city. Based on my [prior] experience in Greek Life, there really isn’t an investment as a collective to understand the racial and class dynamics that define New Orleans and have defined New Orleans for so long.” She offers an alternative perspective, as upon disaffiliating with IFCPH herself — she began donating her dues. “Philanthropy is not restricted to these organizations and can be done in a better and more sustainable way outside of these organizations,” she said, “especially when we look at mutual aid organizations that are popping up around the city.”

As with many of the other campuses involved in this movement, Tulane is a predominantly white institution, and the racial element within the Tulane Greek community is at the center of this movement. “My understanding of IFCPH organizations is that they were created out of exclusion as white social clubs to preserve wealth and hegemony within white, elite groups of people,” Buck said. “We still see that that’s how these organizations are functioning today.”

This mindset is reflected in the group’s official Instagram account, where a post titled “How do fraternities and sororities support White supremacy” has been posted and shared by several students. Citing ableism, transphobia, homophobia and classism as other concerns, Buck says the students involved believe these kinds of organizations have no place on campus. Given Tulane’s complex racial history, this is another call on the administration to take a stance against the harmful culture on campus, and Buck believes that the work to dismantle Greek life falls upon white students who ultimately created and benefit from the system.

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