It is no secret that Greek life organizations across the country have struggled to implement a strong sense of diversity and inclusion on college campuses: Auburn, unfortunately, is no exception.
Though many sororities and fraternities have expressed a desire to increase diversity within their individual chapters, few men and women of varying minority groups choose to go through formal recruitment.
Cydne Wright, an Auburn senior majoring in journalism, has broken barriers for inclusion in Auburn’s Panhellenic system as the first African American woman in her sorority and first African American Pi Chi.
The 21-year-old describes how she has flourished in the Greek community, how she struggled and the reality of what it is like to go through Panhellenic recruitment as an African American woman.
After attending Camp War Eagle, the Atlanta native decided to go through recruitment as a quick and easy way to meet people before the school year started.
Like many women, Wright describes her recruitment experience as an exhausting process, though she admits that her race remained a focal point throughout the week.
“All throughout the week I would hear that I’m going to get asked back to a sorority because I’m black, or I’m not going to get asked back because I’m black,” Wright said. “Everything was connected back to my race, but I think that is a consistent trend with what is happening with minorities today.”
Wright explains that her recruitment experience mirrored the type of circumstances she expects to face in the real world. She finds that often times both her successes and failures are linked back to the color of her skin. However, she was able to break free from this stereotype as she took on the highly competitive role of Pi Chi.
For two years in a row, Wright was chosen to disaffiliate from her sorority and represent Panhellenic to women going through recruitment for the first time. She describes it as one of her most rewarding experiences at Auburn as she formed unforgettable relationships with her groups of potential new members.
“I think it’s amazing to create these wonderful bonds that go so much deeper than something as shallow as skin color and for them to see that Panhellenic really does accept all,” Wright says.
Wright was recognized by the director of Greek life for her natural ability to lead, the care she provided for her group members and her professional representation of Panhellenic.
“It was so fulfilling because during the week it was no longer that I was the black Pi Chi but rather that I just did my job well,” Wright says. “I was a good Pi Chi because of me, and it had nothing to do with my skin color.”
Wright’s goal was not only to excel at her position but also to show minority women that an African American can be accepted into the Panhellenic organization and also be chosen to represent it. She encourages minority women who are considering going through recruitment to keep a positive outlook on the process and remain confident that they belong in the Greek community as much as she did.
“Don’t look around and think that you don’t belong because someone doesn’t look like you,” Wright says. “You might have in the back of your mind that what happens to you is because of your skin color, but push through and find a group that accepts you for who you are and what you look like.”
There is no doubt that the senior has made a lasting impression on Greek life as a whole and has pushed for progress toward diversifying sororities at Auburn. Her vibrant personality, charisma and ability to thrive in trying situations have won her friendship and admiration from peers in the Panhellenic community.
“I’ve created a place for myself where yes, I’m black, yes, I’m in a sorority and yes, I don’t look like everyone else,” Wright says. “But this is what the real world looks like, and if I’ve been able to find my place here, I can find it anywhere.”