Statement on Honorary Philomathean Members from Phi Mu Fraternity
June 3, 2020
On May 29, Phi Mu Fraternity released a statement denouncing the recent acts of racial discrimination and violence faced by members of the Black community, a community that includes many of our sisters. We received an outpouring of responses from our members, many of whom demanded action about one particular aspect of our history.
In the late 1860s, the Philomatheans named Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson as honorary members. They did not go through any Ritual Service and these three men were never granted membership status of any type in Phi Mu Fraternity. Regardless, we must acknowledge that this has been incredibly hurtful for many of our members, especially Black women.
On behalf of National Council, I unequivocally denounce the association of these men with our organization. Having these men as honorary members is not reflective of Phi Mu. We cannot change the decision the Philomatheans made, but we can acknowledge the pain that it has caused and how that informs our path forward.
In 2016, National Council created five Ends Policies to set strategic priorities for our organization. I have directed our staff to make the policy focused on diversity, equity and inclusion an immediate priority. They are forming a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group that will focus on ways Phi Mu has perpetuated racism. They will seek feedback from members on experiences of marginalization or microaggression in their chapters and learn from experts on ways we can make Phi Mu a stronger, more inclusive organization.
This work will take time to do well. It will require honest, difficult conversations regarding parts of our history of which we are not proud. We will do these things and more because we have an obligation to our past, current and future members to eliminate all forms of racism and exclusion.
If you have feedback, suggestions or want to be a part of this work, please complete this form.
Thank you for joining me in learning from our history to keep true to the meaning, spirit and reality of Phi Mu.
Yours in Our Bond,
Andie Kash, Delta Eta