Greetings!

On Friday, Phi Sigma Sigma shared the following statement in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement:

Through our Culture of Care, Phi Sigma Sigma is committed to continuously caring for and empowering our members and encouraging ongoing member development programming that addresses issues of equity, social justice and advocacy.

Our hearts are with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Phi Sigma Sigma does not stand for racism, xenophobia, police brutality, the school to prison pipeline and other forms of social injustice that impact communities of color at disproportionately high rates.  

We are sad and outraged, but that is not enough. We must do better to work towards an equitable and just future for all. 

We have compiled an initial list of resources for our sisters who are looking to take action individually or as a group which can be found here. While this list is not exhaustive, we welcome members to suggest additional resources to help members take action, donate, learn and share experiences. 

To our Black sisters, we see you and we are here to listen. We are here for you, however you need us to be. We have provided a dedicated form and email for ALL members to share what you need from us or thoughts and feedback on how we can support you and our Black sisters.

We know our work does not end here. Black Lives Matter and together, we have the opportunity to be a part of the systemic change that is long overdue.

On behalf of the Fraternity, Foundation and National Housing Corporation we are making an organizational commitment to furthering our Founders' values of diversity and taking an active stance against racism in our communities.

In Our Bond,
Katie Vlietstra Wonnenberg
Grand Archon
CURRENT PRIORITIES
This week our team will be focusing on the following:
  • Creating a safe space for groups of sisters/chapters to process and participate in dialogue
  • Providing a platform for affinity groups to connect in a safe space
  • Providing stress management/mental health resources and ongoing check-ins for our archons as they lead their chapters
  • Supporting our advisors and providing guidelines to help facilitate thoughtful conversations and dialogues between members
  • Curating an online library of resources for members to provide education on ways to thoughtfully engage, foster change and support their communities
  • Outreach to chapters with members located in locations of active protests and riots
  • Reading and reviewing suggestions from Black identified members and putting that feedback into action
  • Continuing to research and learn from best practices provided by organizations such as NAACP

For resources, please visit our resource page on the website. We will continue to update this page. In recognition of #blackouttuesday and amplifying the voices of the Black community we will not be sharing our resources on social media today, but will be sure to share them in the coming days.
GUIDE FOR ACTIVISM
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
  • It is your own responsibility to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the Black community. Guide your own education by reading books, articles and studies on the history and effects of injustice, racism and inequity. Learn by listening to webinars, podcasts and watching documentaries and movies.
  • Explore your own identity and learn about your own implicit or explicit biases.
  • Be brave and explore topics that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. That is a part of learning and developing.
  • Highlight and mark areas of interest. Dig deeper and learn the background. 
  • Engage in discussion with your peers, friends and family.
  • Pass on information you’ve learned or found helpful. Share articles, books, documentaries, etc. 

ADVOCACY
  • Explore aspects of injustice (criminal justice reform, school to prison system pipeline, voter suppression, implicit bias, immigration, school reform).
  • Connect with established organizations, advocacy groups and nonprofits already engaged in your community. It is important that you utilize and support existing efforts and not duplicate or create competing messages. 
  • Connect with university partners, departments, student organizations and resources to mobilize efforts on your campus. 
  • Start conversations with your immediate circle of influence, taking into account their level of awareness and openness to the topic. Meet them where they are. 
  • Share what you learn, but make sure you are sharing for the right reasons. We should not be centering our own experiences in the sharing of information.  

DONATIONS
  • Determine national and local opportunities to contribute to the cause/movement. 
  • Research reputable organizations that disclose how the funds will be responsibly allocated. Charitynavigator.org is one resource you can use to check how funds are utilized.
  • Encourage members and community members to donate directly to the existing organization they are passionate about. 
  • While it is important to encourage and inspire others to donate, refrain from seeking credit for your participation. It is not important that you/chapter receive credit or publicity for the donation.  
  • Avoid organizing a fundraiser or promoting the opportunity to donate as a game, competition or chapter fundraiser. There is no reason to pool money together before it is donated. 
  • Efforts to create merchandise, endorse partial proceeds fundraisers or “give back” events, siphon funds away from the cause and limit the overall impact. 
  • Research if the online platform subtracts credit card fees or if the full amount goes to the cause. A greater impact is made when donations are made directly. 

A WARNING ABOUT VENMO: collecting money on Venmo may be a risk to members and chapters and is strongly discouraged. Individuals/accounts collecting money may become responsible for income taxes associated with any funds received. You will be personally responsible to the IRS.

POSTING & SHARING ONLINE
  • Repost statements from campus organizations/departments, nonprofits and community activists. Your platform and audience is an opportunity to amplify the voice of others.  
  • Acknowledge your platform and align yourself as a part of the change that is needed. 
  • Denounce the actions or behaviors of racial injustice and the systems that reinforce them. 
  • Commit to education and action. Recognize Black sisters and community members. Elevate Black voices and organizations that they are sharing. 
  • Honor, using the full names, the victims of racial injustice.
  • Include hashtags and tags to movements and groups such as #blacklivesmatter, #antiracism #justice #[insert names], etc. 
  • Provide action items, resources and next steps to followers.

RESPONDING TO FEEDBACK & OPPOSITION
  • Expect that followers may respond and provide feedback or opposition.
  • Deleting or reporting comments or blocking followers closes off your opportunity to engage in dialog. 
  • When someone does not share the same opinion, use a guided and one-on-one conversation to engage in a productive dialog. 
  • Refrain from asking someone to delete their comment or post. Instead, help them to understand how their post or comments are impacting others. 

VOLUNTEERING & ACTIVISM
  • Identify spaces and organizations offering opportunities to safely demonstrate, support and volunteer. 
  • Create a plan to participate safely including transportation, attire and supplies. In the event you are injured, arrested or sheltered-in-place, you will need to be prepared with snacks, first aid, cash/ID, protective gear, etc. 
  • Observe curfews, restrictions or local directives pertaining to when and where events are allowed to take place.  
  • Check in with the people you attend with. Stay together and identify a “homebase” in the event you are separated. 
  • Be present in the moment. Make time to process and share your experience with others afterward. Thoughtfully use your voice to focus on the impact that needs to be made.  
Phi Sigma Sigma is pivoting our priorities to provide support to our members in the areas of equity, social justice and advocacy. The launch of Phi Sig C.A.M.P. will be delayed as we re-prioritize our focus and ensure our sisters receive the support they need.
PHI SIGMA SIGMA
(410) 799-1224 | phisighq@phisigmasigma.org