I am outraged by an article I read in the paper this morning's paper describing how members of Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University were evicted for not being "committed to recruitment," which, in no uncertain terms, meant: too fat and too ethnic.
A psychology professor conducted a survey at DePauw asking students to describe the sororities on campus. Some sororities were described "positively" which Delta Zeta women were pegged as "offbeat hippies" and "socially awkward." The Delta Zeta National Headquarters freaked out thinking a negative review would hurt recruitment, and interviewed 35 DePauw DZ's about their "dedication to recruitment."
The remaining 12 members were "slender," "conventionally pretty," and "popular with fraternity men." Six of those women quit in protest.
Does anyone else find this outrageous? I hadn't realized that DePauw University was stuck in a 19th century time-warp. I thought this sorority prided itself on "philanthropy and service." Last time I checked, being hot and having an nice rack had nothing to do with that.
I have some experience with being in a sorority and my experience was not a positive one. My university displayed much forethought and did not allow first sememster freshman to rush sororities. At the time, there were only three on campus and no sorority houses. Rarely could a second semester freshmen join a sorority; our rush happened at the beginning of sophomore year.
At the time, I had no interest in joining any sorority, but three of my roommates planned on rushing so I decided to tag along. I remember my mom at the time saying, "Why would you do that? Do you really need forced friendships?" and I admit, that stuck with me the entire time.
The three sororities on my school campus were already stereotyped by the time I joined the rush frenzy: the DG's were the "pretty" blonde-haired, blue-eyed types. The Alpha Phi's were the "smart girls" (code for ugly?) and the DZ's were described in much the same way as the DePauw group. As the newest sorority on campus, they had the hardest lot to bear. They needed to recruit actively, which meant, I suppose, that they couldn't be as "choosy" (whatever that means).
I was invited to join the Alpha Phi's, and almost immediately I could see it was a mistake. I had never been around such a backstabbing bunch of women in my life. They admonished us to "never disparage a sister" and yet it seemed they were always fighting with each other. And, any "sister" that was "different" was talked about and looked down upon. After about a year, I couldn't take it anymore and I decided to quit. Something you apparently never do.
I was harrassed and hounded like you wouldn't believe. I had "sisters" calling me, I had people from the national chapter calling me. I guess they didn't like someone learning their secrets then ditching. I think they also missed their $150 a month in dues. That experience only cemented for me that I had done the right thing by quitting.
If I were a member of the DZ's at Depauw, being both over-weight and half-Korean, I'd likely be asked to leave as well. It's too bad that my other "assets"—displayed here on this blog (where I can present myself without having to show off my appearance or my body), in my work life, and more importantly in my children's bright-eyed smiles—would be overlooked.
To the evicted sisters of DZ DePauw, I'd just like to say that I stand with you. As someone who would have been kicked out right along with you, I stand with you. This is an experience that will inform the kind of women you will become. You will be strong, and hopefully, you will be fair.
As a mother of two girls, your experience both angers and saddens
me. I would never want my girls to be judged by strangers who are under
the misguided assumption that they are doing something for the
"betterment" of an organization. I can't believe that in this day and
age, an organization run by women that is supposed to support women and
lift them up would behave in such a manner. Because it's not men doing
this, it's other women.
If some of you choose become mothers someday, you will teach your children that it's what on the inside that counts. You will raise respectful sons, you will raise confident daughters. It I am proud an honored to call you "sisters" in life, and I stand with you.
If you stand with these women, please comment below. I will share this post with these amazing women.
...and I also have a few choice words for the DZ national officers (names and emails here) as well.
[photos: Andrew Hancock for the New York Times