Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some more on DePauw DZs

This story continues to bother me for two main reasons: I am a an alumna of Delta Zeta (yes, I was a sorority girl), and in the past ten years, I have spent a great deal of time with undergraduate women, as an undergrad myself and then as a teacher. There is no need for me to add to the general discussion of the Greek system and its problems and inherent flaws. And there is no need to restate how awful it is to exclude people based on appearance--that is clear and has been discussed extensively across the blogosphere and various media outlets.

I've been reading about this event from the perspective of all sides, including the official word from DZ nationals, and what is always at the front of my mind is the humiliation and rejection that these undergraduate women must have felt. Broader issues are certainly at hand, but my mind is on the individuals who were told that they are not good enough. Whether you call it "buying friends" or any of the other stereotypical characterizations of sororities, these young women, away from their families, were looking for a place to fit in and feel loved. And they were cast out by a form letter. Not just out of a club but out of the place they lived! How devastating that must have been for their self images!

There are many sides to the issue and many people to blame (the university, for one, which is up in arms over DZ's actions but didn't mind a few months ago when the whole chapter was about to close its doors and turn its property over to the school). One member from DePauw, pointing fingers at many guilty parties, reminds us that these women were treated badly by their fellow students for years before this happened. It is pointless for me to criticize DZ further for discrimination--plenty of people are doing that already and they, of course, continue to deny it, pointing repeatedly to their constitution and to the history of diversity in the sorority.

I want to say shame on you, Delta Zeta, for not treating these women with the common human decency to speak to them in person and to explain, if there was good reason as you claim, why they were kicked out. (And they were kicked out--we all know that alumna status means nothing when you're still on campus and have been evicted from your home!) Whatever your excuses and justifications, you told 23 women that they were no longer wanted, and you did it in a form letter. You hurt each of those women and they will have trouble recovering from such a blow. You owe them more than that.

DZ has acknowledged that they did not communicate well with the chapter, the university, and its alumnae. And they're doing a pretty weak job of communicating still. But whatever your admissions of guilt are at this point, it is too little, too late. You have done a lot of damage. You are not victims of the media that has "mischaracterized" an "isolated incident." You brought this down on yourself by failing to treat your members with sensitivity and respect and to simply care about the feelings of fellow human beings. I just hope that the solidarity that the former members have demonstrated will heal their emotional wounds and keep them from feeling isolated and ostracized.

2 comments:

SLiK said...

Wow.

David Glass said...

The DZ National organization has acted with complete disregard to the health of its members. Kicking women out of the sorority had everything to do with looks, and nothing to do with brains. If the sorority didn't want smart and independent women in its local chapters ....fine. Dont accept them in the first place. Especially do not kick them out right before finals with the lame excuse they were not committed. It is a bald faced lie. They were not blond, they were not thin, they were not wearing short skirts and going out to party with the Frats, and finally they weren't sexy enough. All this would become completely apparent in a trial. The suit even refers to an incident during recruitment which proves the DePauw defense. DePauw has no responsibility to the National DZ organization, but does have great responsibility for its students...and has acted completely appropriately.
The first contract which has been violated is the one between the DePauw women of the local DZ chapter and the National DZ organization. Even if these women wanted to be part of a sorority after this experience, they can never be, the National took them when it suited purpose, and abandoned and trashed them when it did not. Shame on National DZ. If I were the rest of the "greek" system..I would be looking at controlling the reprehensible behavior of National DZ and putting them out of their misery by denouncing them.
There is no excuse for the rest of the "greek" community at DePauw to have treated this particular house "less than", and they will have to live with it.