AIO joins DG and ZBT DM team to increase inclusiveness

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Campus Editor

South Asian-interest fraternity Alpha Iota Omicron, a member of the Multicultural Greek Council, will be joining the Delta Gamma/Zeta Beta Tau Dance Marathon team to increase the event’s diversity and inclusiveness.

The DG/ZBT team has been the top fundraising group in DM’s large-group category in recent years, raising $154,319.34 during DM 2014.

“I think probably the biggest reason that some people don’t get involved is that they think if you’re not in a Greek organization it can be really intimidating,” said SESP sophomore Jenny Halpern, DG’s director of DM and a member of DM’s Dancer Relations Committee. “By adding AIO to our team, it not only serves as an example for other groups but also to any individual who wants to participate.”

DM organizers are working this year to be more diverse both multiculturally and socioeconomically after many student groups published a letter to the editor in The Daily saying the philanthropic group was not inclusive enough.

“The organization historically privileges students with racial and socioeconomic advantages on campus,” the letter said, adding the group’s “socioeconomic inaccessibility and culture of social exclusivity … result from the marginalization of non-Greek students.”

DM spokesman Ross Gordon, a Medill senior in ZBT, said although DM doesn’t have control over whether other Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association teams will incorporate multicultural Greek organizations, he hopes others will follow DG and ZBT’s lead.

AIO president Vivek Magati, a McCormick junior, said the fraternity currently has 15 members and is aiming for 100 percent attendance at DM this year. He said the fundraising requirement and substantial time commitment can make it difficult to participate in DM, but he decided to become involved at the urging of his friend, ZBT president Alex Diamond, a McCormick junior.

“I think this is a great integration of all the different facets of Greek life,” Magati said. “When you’re a part of Greek life, you want to share that connection with as many people as possible. This is a huge step forward.”

ZBT philanthropy co-chair Isaac Rappoport, a Weinberg sophomore, said he began considering diversity and inclusion in his DM team last year. The chairs, along with the DG and ZBT presidents, asked the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life which groups would be interested in joining their team.

About 30 ZBT members and 80 DG members participated in DM last year, Rappoport and Halpern said. This year’s beneficiary is Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest, an organization that works to improve the lives of children with chronic illnesses.

Magati said he doesn’t want DM’s inclusion efforts to end with AIO joining the DG and ZBT team.

“This will be really inspiring to other MGC fraternities and sororities,” he said. “I’m sure that IFC and PHA will really be inspired as well. It will lead basically to a domino effect.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @olivesocean