I wanted to update you on the selection of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and steps we are taking as a Fraternity moving into our next biennium. Rather than quickly adopt changes, we have taken the time to listen to our membership, learn and investigate our history, and determine how we can make lasting change. We have all seen corporations and organizations that have put out great statements of support, only to stop that support when the camera lights dimmed or when the work required actually changing. That’s not in the nature of our Fraternity, but the real change we seek is a long-term project.
DEIA Task Force and Call for a Constitutional Change
Below are Brothers who have been selected to serve on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy Task Force. This group will help determine the charges and selection of members of a standing committee that we will bring forth for adoption at our upcoming National Convention. The mandate for this task force is limited so that our active membership can have a voice in how we move forward, rather than the National Council simply mandating action from our perspective alone. As leaders we recognize that many voices need to be in this work for it to last long past our own terms of office.
The selected members of the DEIA Task Force are:
- Leigh Ann Brook (Epsilon Epsilon)
- Laura Hatcher (Nu Nu)
- Donald Lee, Jr. (Chair, Zeta Eta)
- Laurenté Oby (Nu Psi)
- TarShae Odom (Zeta Eta)
- Alyssia Price (Gamma Nu)
- Joseph Valdecanas (Alpha Omega)
- Shamara Williams (Lambda Eta)
- Marysa Young (Nu Gamma)
Creating Positive Changes in Kappa Kappa Psi
- Jessica Lee, National Vice President for Colonization and Membership, has set in place new processes for choosing advisors for new chapters, choosing investigators, and for our other volunteer roles. This included mandatory training and certification for investigators, creating teams for new chapters that include Brothers from chapters with different backgrounds and traditions, and making the diversification of our volunteer corps a high priority. She has also worked with Directors to improve the vetting process for colonization applications, resulting in colonies from 5 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 1 minority serving institution, and 3 predominantly white institutions this biennium. This work has also identified other constitutional and operational changes that must be made this summer, including replacing all references to terms like “colonization” and looking at the use of gendered pronouns across the organization and its governing documents.
- Mike Napolitano, National Vice President for Programs, has taken a critical eye to our national awards, programs, and recognition to identify barriers for entry that keep some chapters from being recognized and areas of bias where chapters may be discriminated against in their applications for awards and recognition. That work has also included how we celebrate chapters and publicize our national programs to work for a more diverse pool of applications and broader participation.
- Bang Co, National Vice President for Student Affairs, has presented at least one DEI-focused workshop and follow-up panel discussions for each of our six districts. This was a strategic effort to ensure that our districts were prioritizing these conversations and initiatives. It helped lay the practice that DEI should be incorporated into all aspects of the district operations and structure, and not just an isolated conversation or item on a checklist. He has worked with the Student Advisory Council and students across the country to develop DEI resources for Active Members to have access to and leverage. This is an ongoing initiative and evolving resource for our students that will assist chapter officers, district officers, and future VPSAs to continue this important work. These resources can be found at https://www.kkpsi.org/diversity-equity-inclusion/. With the Student Advisory Council, he helped develop chapter officer training resources that all students could access. This was built off of the resources that were created last biennium. The SAC believed it was important that we lowered the barriers by creating easily accessible content that students could go through at their own pace/own time and at no extra cost. The next step is the addition of captions and updated virtual resources. These resources can be found at https://www.kkpsi.org/videos/. Finally, he worked with the previous SED President, TarShae Odom to hold several open discussions and Q&As with HBCU Chapter Presidents from across the country. It was from these conversations that public discussions (i.e. TalkTalkks, VPSA Chats, district panels) were able to become reality.
- Anthony Falcone, National Vice President for Professional Relations, has helped in strengthening our connections to Band Directors at HBCUs and Minority-serving institutions and has helped in the advocacy for using the National Intercollegiate Band and the National Commissioning Project to feature conductors and composers of color. As the National Council’s resource and connection with the Band Director profession, these connections and this advocacy has a major impact on our relationships with bands and on how Kappa Kappa Psi can shape the College Band world and push for meaningful change.
- The National Committee on Nominations was charged with breaking down numerous barriers to entry for diversifying our National Leadership, including removing financial barriers and benefits, identifying ways to elevate all candidates prior to our National Convention and limiting unfair advantages that exist in terms of insights and access for candidates. The majority of the committee is made up of active members and a constitutional change will be recommended to mandate not just diversity of geography in their selection but to follow the model of this biennium by mandating diversity of experience and background in all of our committees to reflect the diversity of our Brotherhood.
- The National Committees on Communications, Ritual Performance and Education, and Curriculum Development, have not only helped us navigate the pandemic but have improved the visibility and access for all brothers and elevated the voices of Brothers of color, women, and other often marginalized populations. These committees are advised by National Council members who have helped advocate for change and assisted in making reforms possible.
Professional Fraternity Association DEI Initiative and Fraternity Climate Assessments
As a member of the Professional Fraternity Association (PFA), Kappa Kappa Psi has invested in a new initiative across all PFA organizations to conduct assessments of organizational climate and unconscious bias as phase 1 of a long-term PFA initiative. That work also includes educating our leadership and membership with new programming, training Kappa Kappa Psi facilitators who can work with chapters and districts on DEI issues, and helping our organization to look critically at our operational and education documents and resources. This multi-year project will help us make needed improvements, while educating our leaders on how to make sure those changes are not just cosmetic.
The first phase of that initiative will begin soon as all active members are asked to complete an assessment of their own values, biases, and beliefs. That assessment will be analyzed to provide us with an idea of where we are as an organization in advance of our National Convention. We hope to use the results to inform our DEI Task Force and a possible DEI Committee in its work and to guide the National Fraternity in areas of concern nationwide where resources and education are needed.
By joining with the Professional Fraternity Association (rather than moving quickly on our own), the work we do will mirror work being done by many organizations that are also on our campuses, which should give our chapters a lot of possibilities on your campus to host joint workshops, collaborate across Greek life, and provide a consistent message across our music and band programs and across many majors and professions. PFA members include Mu Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Iota, Delta Omicron, and Tau Beta Sigma, as well as profession-based societies for a number of disciplines.
Change is necessary and the commitment being made is to make permanent and continuous change to our organization in keeping with our values. This change is difficult, methodical, and requires connecting us with many partners who can help educate our membership and leadership based on their professional and personal expertise. Thank you for raising your voices to advocate for changes to our organization and for the many who offered their time and insights to help move Kappa Kappa Psi forward into a better century.
Marco A. Krcatovich II (he/him/his)
Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity