Sisterly Love at Delta Zeta

After this and this, I may look a little obsessed about some women's fixation on outer appearance. Honestly, I am not going out of my way to find these stories. Now there is another one.

DePauw University is a small college in Indiana with the typical assortment of fraternities and sororities. One sorority, Delta Zeta, has been receptive to academically talented young women without regard to their sex appeal, or lack thereof. Members took their studies seriously and were apparently less involved in the more sordid aspects of campus life.

Rather than applaud this commitment, the national headquarters of Delta Zeta chose last year to begin an investigation of its DePauw chapter's failure to meet recruiting goals. The sorority house was only half full. This was unacceptable back at Delta Zeta HQ.

Now let's stop right here and think about this. Freshman girls at Depauw, as at other colleges, have a choice of sororities to pledge. It seems that the one sorority with a reputation for studying more and partying less had trouble attracting new members. What a surprise! Nonetheless, the girls of Delta Zeta appear to be a close-knit group. The fact that other students have misplaced priorities is not their fault.

So, the national office came to DePauw and "interviewed" all the members of Delta Zeta about their "commitment" to the group. They determined that 23 of the 35 members were "insufficiently committed" and asked them to move out of the sorority house. Here is where it gets interesting:

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 recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated that they quit.

"Virtually everyone who didn't fit a certain sorority member archetype was told to leave," said Kate Holloway, a senior who withdrew from the chapter during its reorganization.

"I sensed the disrespect with which this was to be carried out and got fed up," Holloway said. "I didn't have room in my life for these women to come in and tell my sisters of three years that they weren't needed." more

Reports indicate that many of the ejected members had actually been very involved and dedicated; one was the chapter president. Likewise, some of the twelve who were judged worthy of remaining had done little for the chapter - other than looking pretty, that is.

Justice may prevail in the end. It seems that the new, re-invigorated, more beautiful Delta Zeta chapter managed to attract only three recruits for this semester. With the six original members who stuck around, that leaves them with a total of 9. The national office said its goal was to have the chapter at 95 members by 2009.

If they think they had recruiting problems before, they have a real challenge now. Having this story told in the New York Times and syndicated to other papers nationwide is probably not what the Delta Zeta honchos had in mind when they set out to beautify the DePauw chapter. I see on their web site a plea from the Executive Director for all members to send press inquiries to her. Looks like a damage control effort is underway. Good luck, ladies.


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