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‘By women for women’: Duke Panhel bans mixers with all-male groups

Duke’s Panhellenic Council has voted to no longer allow chapters to host mixers with all-male organizations, part of a move aimed at “refocusing Panhellenic on women’s empowerment,” according to a Sept. 21 announcement on the Duke Panhellenic Association Instagram page. 

An Aug. 31 memo about the changes says chapters have agreed to “not co-host or attend any ‘mixers’ that involve all-male organizations,” nor “utilize any ‘blanket invites’ for Panhellenic hosted events.” 

Mixers are defined in the memo as “exclusive events between organizations.” Chapters that violate the policy “will be put on social probation for the remainder of the semester (or the next semester if late in the semester) and may also incur recruitment restrictions.” 

The memo states that the announcement comes because of all-male organizations’ “lack of accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault, environments that fuel unsafe gender power dynamics, and a social hierarchy that judges women based on their appearances.”

Panhellenic chapter members will still be allowed to “invite individuals belonging to all-male organizations to sorority events,” once events are allowed to resume again.  

Duke President Panhel Kate Chen, a senior, wrote in an email that Panhellenic chapters will be allowed to host mixers with “one another, other co-ed groups on campus, and other female-identifying groups.” 

Chen made it clear that the ban is simply a means to an end: “The purpose is to refocus Panhellenic as a community led by women for women.”

Senior Rohan Singh, president of Duke’s Interfraternity Council—which oversees 13 all-male fraternities and one co-ed fraternity—wrote in an email that IFC’s “respective sexual assault task forces have been collaborating and figuring out what the future of events could look like.”

Singh told The Chronicle last month that the members of the IFC executive board “absolutely condemn acts of sexual assault and are aware that it is an issue that plagues our community.”

“We are taking measures to be proactive about eliminating sexual assault within the IFC, and encourage students to report acts of assault to Duke Student Conduct,” he wrote in an email at the time.

A 2016 Duke survey found that 48% of female undergraduates reported being sexually assaulted during their time at Duke. Most of these incidents happened off campus and involved drug or alcohol use. 

According to the Aug. 31 memo, Panhellenic acknowledges “systemic issues within our own community” and is working on reform, but hopes the changes will “serve as a fundamental shift” toward a purpose of women’s empowerment. 

Despite the ban on mixers with all-male groups, Panhellenic chapters will still be allowed to co-host philanthropic events with fraternities. 

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