SIGMA KAPPA Sigma Kappa

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About DEIA

 

The boards and staff of the Sorority, Foundation and NHC remain committed to examining ourselves, our policies and practices to determine whether we are contributing, actively or passively, to social inequity. Sigma Kappa is devoted to providing a welcoming and meaningful experience for all members. While we have made organizational progress, we know there is still much work to be done Sigma Kappa’s success is dependent on the support, feedback and actions of our members.     

Sigma Kappa will do what is necessary to assure our Members of Color and other underrepresented members feel welcomed, included and empowered in our organization. While words matter, our actions matter more. To demonstrate our commitment to action, national council, the Foundation board of trustees, the National Housing Corporation board of directors and the staff of all three entities have been working collaboratively to weave DEIA into all that we do as we make diversity, equity, inclusion and access (DEIA) a priority throughout the organization.   

We want our members to be proud of their association with Sigma Kappa and all that it stands for. We are confident that we can improve aspects of our organization that might prevent us from being fully equitable, inclusive and accessible This work enriches the membership experience for everyone and ensures that Sigma Kappa continues to thrive for generations to come.  

If you are interested in investing in DEIA work, please click here to make a gift to the PULSE annual fund which will help underwrite the programs and resources to support Sigma Kappa DEIA initiatives.   

  

If you have questions or would like to provide feedback or share your stories, please email us at inclusion@sigmakappa.org. 

 

 

DEIA Committee & Charge
About the Committee

The DEIA committee is responsible for researching and making recommendations on key DEIA focus areas identified by boards and staff to ensure that the organization is aware of emerging trendsThe committee will also provide feedback and advice to Sigma Kappa volunteers and staff on specific DEIA issues or projects as requested. 

  • Work alongside the Sigma Kappa Sorority, Sigma Kappa Foundation, and National Housing Corporation to ensure the boards and staff are aware of emerging issues and trends related to DEIA so Sigma Kappa understands how those developments impact the organization. 
  • Work in partnership with entity leadership and staff and engage in meaningful conversations to advance DEIA and support Sigma Kappa as a welcoming and respectful organization. 
  • Study and make recommendations on key identified DEIA focus areas critical to the future of the Sorority experience and its relevance to new generations. 
  • Provide feedback and advice to Sigma Kappa volunteers and staff on specific DEIA issues or projects, as requested. 
  • Attend and actively participate in monthly meetings of the DEIA committee. 
  • Recommend ways to engage and support underrepresented groups in Sigma Kappa.  
  • Follow up on projects and research between meetings as necessary. 

 

 

Calendar of Work 

October-December  

  • Financial Accessibility/Affordability 

  • The committee will make recommendations for how to make the Sigma Kappa experience financially accessible to more women on campus 

  • Non-binary  

  • The committee will research and provide resources to national council on inclusion of non-binary Sigma Kappa members 

January-March 

  • Changing Demographics 

  • The committee will make recommendations on how to educate and empower chapters to prepare for the future and the changing demographics of college students over the next 20 years.  

  • Diversity of membership 

  • The committee will discuss how to define and achieve a diversity of membership while supporting/promoting multicultural & NPHC Greek organizations 

April-May 

  • Housing 

  • The committee will discuss and make recommendations on how the NHC should navigate housing for traditionally marginalized groups and areas of concern (transgender, non-binary, mental health, substance abusers)?  

June-August 

  • Accessibility for neurodivergent members and people with cognitive disabilities  

  • The committee will make recommendations on what Sigma Kappa should be doing to be more accessible to neurodivergent members and individuals with cognitive disabilities  

Communications & Updates
DEIA Resources
 
People First Language

People-First Language is the most commonly accepted standard in speaking to or about people with disabilities, in order to acknowledge the person first, then the disability. 

 

For example: 

Instead of saying this... Say this.
Disabled person Person with a disability
She's disabled She has a disability
Wheelchair-bound Uses a wheelchair
Autistic Person with autism
Hard of hearing Has a hearing impairment

 

Note: While this is the current standard, it is important to recognize the preferences of the specific person you're speaking to! If a person with autism says, "I would like you to refer to me as an autistic person," then do that going forward. This goes for all terms/labels, not just disability-related! 

When in doubt, ask the person how they would like to be referred to.

 

Check out disabilityisnatural.com for more information on people-first language!

Recommended Reading 

Check out our recommended non-fiction book list!

Check out our recommended children's book list!

 
Media

The lists below have shows, podcasts, and movies that either have a focus on DEIA themes or a focus on the most under represented groups in the media.

 
Pronouns
 
Working through Difficult Conversations
 
Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Check out our recommended list for ways to celebrate Black History Month!

 
Additional Resources
DEIA Priorities

National council, the Foundation board of trustees and the National Housing Corporation board of directors continue to review our progress toward the overarching goal of modeling a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible membership experience among women’s fraternal organizations. Below are the focus areas that Sigma Kappa will prioritize based on the action steps outlined in the Sorority’s strategic plan and the 2020-2021 DEIA committee’s additional recommendations. Making these our focus will ensure we achieve the next phase of our DEIA growth and development.  

  • Create clear expectations for the incoming DEIA committee through written position descriptions and a calendar of work with clear objectives for each topic prior to the formation of the next term of the committee in September 2021.    

    • Complete – see the DEIA Committee & Charge accordion for details 

  • Continue our consideration of a non-binary inclusivity policy and make clear in Summer 2021 updates to the National Policy Handbook that members who now identify as non-binary are welcome, valued members for life.  

    • Complete – Added language to NPH IV.A.2 "Changes in gender identity do not impact membership status."  

  • Continue a critical examination of the purpose and strategy of our social media and other communications to align with our values and commitment to DEIA by Spring 2022.  

  • Conduct a DEIA membership assessment to learn more about our members and what they are looking from Sigma Kappa. The assessment will assist us in making data-driven decisions, guide our work and measure progress moving forward.  

  • Finalize and recommend Bylaws amendments designed to eliminate barriers to membership at the point of entry and throughout the membership experience for consideration in Summer 2022.   

  • Implement recommendations of the Ritual Inclusivity Task Force by Summer 2022 with reprinted Ritual books distributed at convention.    

  • Publish the findings of our History Task Force to acknowledge Sigma Kappa's past as it relates to organizational discriminatory behavior and practices, as well as acknowledge the steps taken by the Sorority and the workgroup to address our inclusion efforts.  

  • Implement our new volunteer appointment process for Fall 2021 and transition the national council to a governance board in Summer 2022, all designed to open leadership roles in Sigma Kappa to new voices and perspectives. Following this, we will analyze the outcomes to make continuous improvements in the process.  

  • Work with an outside expert to provide additional staff support and training for DEIA to align with our organizational goals.  

  • Build on the foundational DEIA training already provided to staff and boards during 2020-2021 and provide DEIA training to our nominating and personnel committees for the volunteer appointment process that begins in 2021.    

  • Examine Foundation emergency grant applications and vice president of philanthropic service materials with a DEIA lens and make necessary improvements.  

    • Complete – Information on considering event themes to make them inclusive and welcoming were added to the vice president of philanthropic service materials  

  • Review Foundation trustee and volunteer expectations to increase access to these roles.  

    • Complete - the board of trustees focused heavily on the financial obligations of a trustee and has made significant changes to this area to reduce the financial barriers to serving in this role. 

  • Investigate possibilities for the Foundation to defray membership costs through tax-deductible gifts that can directly support chapters' educational costs.  

  • Provide Sigma Kappa volunteers with resources that support having welcoming and inclusive living-learning environments. 

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of all Sigma Kappa facilities focused on inclusivity and accessibility. 

History Task Force

Charge:

The objective of this task force is to research, document, and acknowledge Sigma Kappa’s history as it relates to organizational discriminatory behavior and practices, as well as our historical steps toward inclusion. The work of the task force will culminate in a Sigma Kappa Triangle article that is created in collaboration with the Sorority’s communications team, but the group may also make recommendations for how to share information with our membership along the way.

Co-chairwomen:

  • Christy Nielson, Xi
  • Allison Parker, Alpha Gamma

Members:

  • Jeanne Disney, Xi
  • Dana Finley, Delta
  • Stefanie Greenhill, Theta Xi
  • Maggie Morris, Mu
  • Nicole Pawelski, Beta Tau
  • Amanda Perez, Zeta Kappa

Staff Liaisons:

  • Mallory Simmons, Delta Delta
  • Annika Dellert, Gamma Delta
Ritual Inclusivity Task Force

Charge:

This task force has been operating for a year and has reviewed the Sigma Kappa ritual to identify non-inclusive language and information. Its plan for focus groups and education was paused when our in-person Convention experience was canceled. Now, with a focused commitment in our strategic plan to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, we are reformulating the charge for the task force.

The objectives of this task force are:

  • To make specific recommendations to national council about language and information in the Sigma Kappa Ritual that is non-inclusive or marginalizes members and can be modified while preserving the items adopted by the Founders. The task force’s recommendations may also include strategies for obtaining feedback and buy-in from the membership about the recommended changes.
  • To show why any proposed changes do not compromise the integrity of our Ritual, recommendations should be accompanied by a historical timeline and context for items that were added to our Ritual over time.
  • After the recommendations are presented to national council, the council will appoint a work group (which may include members of the task force) to educate the membership on any modifications that are adopted and the rationale. That work may include focus groups and surveys on how to explain any changes, and training that empowers our members with information to understand why any adaptations are appropriate and will ensure the longevity of Sigma Kappa.

Chairwoman

  • Sara Chacon, Gamma Alpha

Members: 

  • Sheila Barnes, Gamma Phi
  • Joanna Cline, Zeta
  • Angela Guillory, Delta Mu
  • Lisa Humenik, Gamma Mu
  • Ashton Kelly, Gamma Kappa
  • Christine Padalino, Theta Lambda
  • Marlee Ribnick, Epsilon Mu
  • Lea Sahgal, Lambda

Staff Liason:

  • Julia Kozicki, Tau