Panhellenic conducts census to highlight academic diversity

Sororities at USC are hoping to prove their diversity with the results of a recent census that surveyed the majors of members of Panhellenic sororities.

Hitting the books · Members of Delta Gamma study at their house. Panhellenic recently surveyed its members to demonstrate its diversity. - Katelynn Whitaker | Daily Trojan

Ayushi Gummadi, vice president of scholarship for the Panhellenic Council, organized the census to provide support for the claim that Greek houses are now more diverse than ever before.

Of the five houses that responded to the census, approximately 60 different majors were represented. There were 503 responses, though the number is inflated because some women had more than one major.

Representatives of the sororities were quick to point out the range of majors within their own houses.

“We’re pretty diverse,” said Sagan Blue, vice president of Intellectual Development for Alpha Chi Omega sorority. “We have representatives from most of the schools, from accounting to gerontology. We’re pretty well representative of most of what USC has to offer.”

Diversity within the house is often touted as an important goal of all sororities. Though there are no diversity quotas to influence selection of girls, all houses emphasize the value of having a variety of majors among members.

“It’s important because it allows us to experience and interact with different people,” said Charlotte Chan, scholarship chair for Gamma Phi Beta sorority. “We don’t live in a bubble where everyone is interested in the same thing. We have the opportunity to become friends and spend time with people who have different interests.”

Gummadi said the results of this census are also important in combating the stereotypes about the Greek community.

“There is a perception that all Greeks are communication majors, and that’s not true,” said Gummadi. “There are so many different types of majors, people doing so many amazing things. It’s really important for the university to know that.”

Still, the census might not reflect diversity as well as the Greek system would have liked.

The two most popular majors, by a large margin, were business administration and communication. Seven of the majors were studied by more than 20 girls: psychology, journalism, engineering, international relations and those who identified themselves as undeclared, in addition to the business and communication majors.

More than half of the majors included in the census report are being studied by less than five women.

Donald La, a junior majoring in business administration and accounting and not affiliated with the Greek system, said he thinks there are some stereotypes associated with the Greek community and that this census might not do much to fight them.

“There are definitely stereotypes for girls in Greek houses,” he said. “It depends on who you talk to. Some people will stereotype and some won’t.”

La said he’s not sure the census data means much.

“Based on the census statistics, that doesn’t give them a right to say that they’re diverse,” he said. “I think they’re just stating that they’re diverse so they can get more people to apply.”

But Gummadi said the data does help fight preconceptions.

“I think the data disproves stereotypes,” she said. “Marshall and Annenberg are two of the top schools. Obviously people are going to take advantage of that; but looking at the census data, there are so many other majors represented as well.”

Ashley Prescott, a senior majoring in communication and a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, said she hopes the census helps disprove the stereotypes because she feels they don’t hold true.

“I don’t like the stereotypes and I hate that communication is always seen as an easy major because it’s not,” she said. “From my perspective, there is a lot of diversity, but there are major groups. We have the business [administration] major group, we have a group of communication students, and then we have a group of engineering students and some bio majors.”

Gummadi said the Greek system is merely keeping pace with university trends.

“I don’t think it’s something to be surprised about,” Gummadi said. “It’s not unique to the Greek community. The Greek community is a microcosm for the university as a whole.”

Chan said this data shows a change even over the past few years.

“There’s been a big change,” she said. “Even from when I was a freshman to this year … So many members this year just have more diverse majors.”

Chan cited two possible reasons for this change.

“Either the girls in general are branching out and trying different majors, or more specifically there could be another possibility — that Greek life is attracting different kinds of girls,” she said.

A number of sororities are hoping the census will help change student perceptions of Greek life.

“I think it’s important for people to have an accurate view of sororities,” Blue said. “That we aren’t just all the same — that even within the houses we’re not all the same.”

Editor’s note: Photographer Katelynn Whitaker is a member of Delta Gamma Sorority.