Why I hate sororities

Dateline: Mon 26 Feb 2007

During a visit to the DePauw University campus in preparation for teaching a class Feb. 16, I read in the student newspaper that 23 members of Delta Zeta sorority had been asked to leave the chapter. The national leadership took action because the 23 young women did not fit the national's idea of "image," according to the DePauw newspaper.

Altho the story ran on the front page, the tone of the article was somewhat mysteriously understated. Image -- what did that mean? The young (male) reporter who had researched written the story happened to be in the media center that day, so I asked him: What is "image" code for? Did the young women sport big hairy ugly tatoos or numerous body piercings? Were they a bunch of drunken partiers? Had they become known as the campus fill-in--blank it's OK to hate them -- lesbos, sluts, or femme morons?

Actually and alas, image means image. The women of Delta Zeta were known on campus, the reporter told me, as the Delta Dogs. They were "ugly." Or fat. Or ethnic. Or all three.

Unbelievable, I told him. How on earth, I pondered, could this happen in this day and age, after the 60s killed the 50s and everyone lived happily ever after?

"Yes, you're the second reporter this week to take an interest in this story," he said. The other was a journalist from the New York Times who happened to have been visiting campus, he added, and was asking a lot of questions.

So here is the Times' story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/education/25sorority.html?ex=1173070800&en=c5e69c176014de9e&ei=5070&emc=eta1

My good buddy and brilliant reader Jim Burns sent it to me yesterday, picked up from the Sunday paper. The Times report says it all, except of course for expressing the outrage many of us feel. The photos are also very telling: beautiful smiling healthy looking young women, well-dressed, beaming. These are the Delta Dogs?

'Tis true. Reps from national visited the campus when the numbers of recruits weren't quite good enough. Then young women were asked to leave because they were overweight or ethnic minorities and not "cute" enough. Koreans did not make the cut; blacks either. A young woman who tips the scales too high is deemed a loser, despite outstanding scholarship or personality.

This is why I hate sororities and perhaps why we should all hate them. The actions by Delta Zeta on the DePauw campus have exposed the cancer, which would be silly and laughable if it wasn't so hurtful. These young women were literally asked to leave their home. The upside is that many professors and staff have rallied around them.

Perhaps the next move should be to examine this primitive lifestyle form: young men and women trudging off to campus, and their first lesson in life is not intellectual but as shallow as the looking glass. Are they pretty, slender, macho or jock enough to fit in? I was told about 70 percent of the 2000 or so DePauw students pledge; maybe it's time they did not. Once again, Indiana is looking bad. But not for the reasons the DZ leadership thinks.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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