Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sorority Boots 23 Women From Depauw University Chapter, Possibly Because of Race, Weight, and "Social Awkwardness"

From the New York Times regarding my sister's alma mater, DePauw University, a prestigious United Methodist liberal arts school in Indiana:

GREENCASTLE, Ind. — When a psychology professor at DePauw University here surveyed students, they described one sorority as a group of “daddy’s little princesses” and another as “offbeat hippies.” The sisters of Delta Zeta were seen as “socially awkward.”

Worried that a negative stereotype of the sorority was contributing to a decline in membership that had left its Greek-columned house here half empty, Delta Zeta’s national officers interviewed 35 DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.

The 23 members included every woman who was overweight. They also included the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members. The dozen students allowed to stay were slender and popular with fraternity men — conventionally pretty women the sorority hoped could attract new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit.

It gets better:

A few days after the interviews, national representatives took over the house to hold a recruiting event. They asked most members to stay upstairs in their rooms. To welcome freshmen downstairs, they assembled a team that included several of the women eventually asked to stay in the sorority, along with some slender women invited from the sorority’s chapter at Indiana University, Ms. Holloway said.

This (coupled with my own social awkwardness) is why I never rushed a fraternity. My sister, however, was part of DePauw's bustling Greek community. Her sorority (AOπ) also dissolved its DePauw chapter, albeit more gracefully and with less bigotry.

Like a good United Methodists (or a good person who runs an institution tenuously associated with The United Methodist Church), University president Robert G. Bottoms has "issued a two-page letter of reprimand to the sorority," defending DePauw's former women of Delta Zeta. I suspect that sorority officials will spend more time making cracks about the president's last name than evaluating the content of his letter.


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