Dedication, diversity, scholarship and service are qualities most Greek organizations look for when seeking potential members. It is repulsive and disheartening when women of sororities shun their sisters for being different from the norm – it’s not very sisterly either.
Recently, the Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University has come under fire. National officers for the sorority evicted 23 of its 35 members from their sorority house after deeming the women “insufficiently committed” to the recruitment process, according to an article in The New York Times. The eviction may have avoided controversy were it not for two significant factors: the chapter suffered from a negative reputation prior to the eviction and the 12 remaining women were all of one type – skinny, beautiful and popular.
The women who were told to pack up and leave the sorority house were the chapter’s overweight, black, Korean and Vietnamese members. Those who survived the elimination, a la Ugly Betty, were placed on pedestals as picture-perfect icons that would hopefully salvage the chapter’s dwindling population by attracting new recruits.
If life has taught me anything, it is that people tend to be intimidated by ideal figures. Individuals are much more receptive to those they can relate to. If a woman were to pick up a magazine and see an Adriana Lima look-alike on the cover, her response might be something to the effect of, “She is so lucky to be beautiful,” rather than, “Sign me up to be a model.”
Still, it is overwhelming trying to comprehend the recruitment tactics of this organization and those similar to it. Didn’t anyone ever tell these girls that variety is the spice of life?
Just imagine going grocery shopping and finding the only loaves of bread to choose from were all the same kind merely because they had been deemed the most popular. What a dull existence.
According to the Times article, this is not the first time DePauw’s Delta Zeta chapter has been in the hot seat. In early February, several 1970 DePauw alumni along with an Alabama lawyer wrote a letter to the university’s student paper about an incident in which Delta Zeta tried to block a woman of mixed heritage from joining its chapter. A black student was also refused membership to the sorority by the chapter in 1982.
Despite previous incidents, the sorority was beginning to embrace diversity by recruiting members of the university’s math and science community – until the sorority’s national leadership decided beauty is better than brains.
It is bad enough that society tells people how thin to be and promotes the rejection of ethnicity as a vital step to success. The world does not need the lunacy of extreme vanity seeping into its nation’s academic institutions and destroyingthe self-esteem of its future leaders.
There was a time when universities and the organizations affiliated with them embraced alternative thinking. The United States is a country booming with women of different shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds. In this case, Delta Zeta sorority served as a substandard representation of a Greek culture I would otherwise be proud to call my own.
The sorority’s public relations representative said the organization’s actions were aimed at enriching student life at DePauw. But when a sorority makes “what-not-to-be” examples of its members and ruins for them one of the most crucial and rewarding experiences in a woman’s life, that goal is hopeless.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” but people should not be punished for who they are – or who they’re not.
Asha Ellison is a junior majoring in mass communications.