DePauw sorority prioritizes looks

It is a fact of college life that fraternities and sororities have certain reputations. And within the greek life of a college, they might even possess certain “sub-reputations,” like the “hippy” fraternity, the “daddy’s little princess” sorority or, in the case of DePauw University’s Delta Zeta chapter, the “socially awkward” sorority.

Upset by the implications of this label – which was released in a study by a DePauw psychology professor – as well as by a recent decline in the DePauw chapter’s membership, the sorority’s national chapter decided to take action.

This past November, several members of the national chapter visited DePauw’s Delta Zeta house and asked the 35 members to submit to quizzes, which were intended to deduce each member’s “dedication to recruitment,” according to The New York Times.

Following the interviews, 23 of the 35 members of DePauw’s chapter were asked to leave the sorority. Of the original membership, the 23 evictees included all of the overweight women and the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members. The 12 remaining members were all slender and conventionally pretty. Of those 12, six decided to quit on ethical grounds.

To make matters worse, several days after the interviews, before the members had been informed of who was going to be asked to leave, the representatives of the national chapter decided to hold a recruiting event at DePauw’s Delta Zeta house. They asked most of the members to remain in their rooms, only inviting a select few – who would ultimately be the members chosen to remain in the sorority – to attend the event. Other attendees at the event included a selection of the sorority’s Indiana University chapter, who presumably conformed to the national chapter’s perception of an “ideal member” better than DePauw’s existing membership.

While we are not aware of the content of the quizzes distributed to DePauw’s Delta Zeta chapter, the national chapter’s decision to “refocus” was presumably an attempt at purging the chapter of all members who did not directly resemble a Barbie doll.

What’s even more unfortunate is that the sorority’s national committee, which is designed to be the moral beacon for all of its chapters nationwide, could commit such atrocious actions. Aside from a campus-wide stereotype of social awkwardness, DePauw’s Delta Zeta chapter also has a reputation for looking beyond sex appeal when recruiting members. Before the evictions, many of its members were science and math majors. The chapter has also embraced students of different ethnic backgrounds and disabled women.

By cleansing its DePauw chapter of anyone not fitting its ideal model of a sorority girl, Delta Zeta has only furthered the reputation held against sororities.

The actions committed by Delta Zeta, which has a chapter at Pitt, are unethical and morally reprehensible. We strongly encourage both Pitt’s chapter and all of Delta Zeta’s chapters nationwide to take action against the national committee, and work toward rebuilding a positive reputation of what a sorority member stands for.

The above column was written by the University of Pittsburgh editorial board. It was published in The Pitt News and was made available through U-Wire.