Body Buzz: Delta Zeta Sorority: Kicks Out “The Socially Awkward Sisters”

February 27th, 2007 // 29 Comments

For many, sororities are for women who want to be a part of a sisterhood. Through the help of the organization, one may participate in campus activities, community service and of course the be a part of the social scene in college. I was in a sorority in college and it was the greatest time of my life. I believe it taught me a great deal, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships with other women.

Every national sorority is different, with each chapter on each campus widely known for a distinguishing characteristic within the Greek System. And as much as the stereotypes often attributed to each group of girls can often have a grain of truth in them, they can very often lead to interactions reminiscent of high-school bickering, overshadowing the positive qualities associated with sorority membership.

Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University, which maintains a 75% Greek population within the student body, 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 thirty-five DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment.

According to the New York Times, they judged twenty-three of the women to be insufficiently committed to the organization and later told them to vacate the sorority house. The twenty-three members included every woman who was overweight, as well as 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 twelve remaining members were so infuriated they quit.

Is it a coincidence that Delta Zeta “cleaned house” and got rid of the “Socially Awkward Girls,” and that those who remained all belonged to such a specific demographic? This is a terrible situation for the Greek System–exactly the kind of incident that fuels the fire about the negative aspects associated with sororities.

Sororities need members that actively participate in the events, hold offices and promote the sorority as a whole on campus. As much as I am outraged by the possibility of such a blatant case of discrimination, I still feel the need to play devil’s advocate. Is this just the media speculation? How do we really know that these women were actively showing up for meetings, doing the things that were expected of them or promoting a positive sisterhood? Could an overweight sister be just as likely as a skinny blonde sister to shirk her responsibilities?

However, it does seem a little too convenient that these women paid money to belong to an organization and get what they thought was a lifelong bond of sisterhood and friendship only to be stripped of it allegedly because of their looks. If these girls who were dismissed didn’t represent the organization in the way they hoped to be portrayed how did they get accepted in the first place? Sororities reorganize all the time, if you are not hitting your ceiling (your total membership that you are allowed to have) and your new member classes only consist of two to four women then there is something wrong with your rush program and you should fix it. Sororities are not just for “Barbie Dolls”, they are designed to turn girls into women and create women of character, poise and purpose.

(Source: Indianapolis Star)

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  1. Alye

    Oh please. Since when is this new? This has been going on forever in Sororities and the only reason this story made the news was because of the “minorities” they singled out. I agree that SOME sorities are great, and I’ve had a few friends say nothing bad about theirs, but mostly all I hear is negative. The day sorities make girls into women of poise, character and purpose is the day I, a geek that’s not “barbie perfect” gets accepted into mine.

  2. eva

    sororities have changed over time. they USED TO be about encouraging civic responsibilities, turning girls into women. most of the women in my family were part of a sorority, so i joined up when i started college. i found that my sorority was not as positive as they used to be. they only encouraged civic responsibility because they HAD to, and spent most of the time focusing on self-image and other self centered behaviors. i was encouraged to leave my job (it wasn’t classy – i worked in retail through college), lose weight (i wasn’t fat), and hover around scum of men. the only benefits i recieved were ‘how to do something and look like you like doing it,’better study skills, and a decent hairstylist. i could understand changing yourself for a greater cause, but this was beyond reason. i left the sorority after 2 years.
    i’m sure that thousands of girls benefit from participating in a sorority, but i am also sure that number is dwindling.
    delta zeta, huh? how ironic.

  3. Pepper

    I went to a school with a DZ chapter. All I can say is that the DZ girls were all relentlessly good looking and pretty much physically perfect. That particular aspect of the sorority really stood out to pretty much everyone. In short, this story doesn’t surprise me at all.

  4. As a proud alumna of a Greek letter organization and an active advisor for a local Chapter, this story makes me both sad and angry. Sad for the women who feel marginalized and discriminated against and angry at the national organization for perpetuating the stereotype that sororities are about looks and size and money.

    It’s a shameful day for the Greek System at DePauw. I certainly hope that this serves as a wake-up call for all national Greek organizations.

    And finally… the media loves to play up the awful stories about Greek life because it garners readers. The truth is, for every rotten, horrible, awful Greek story, there are another hundred that never get told.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m in a sorority right now and I’ve got to say, out of the 5 sororities at my school, DZ is by far the most discriminatory. The one at my school wouldn’t kick anyone out, though, because they wouldn’t let those type of people in to begin with. I’m sure Delta Zeta isn’t the only sorority to be superficial like that… but they’re pretty bad. Nationwide.

  6. MElizH

    While I think this entire situation is truly sad and deplorable, I also think that many of the comments above are just as judgmental, misguided, and cruel as what the national leadership of Delta Zeta did to the women of the Delta chapter at De Pauw. How is stereotyping the entire Greek community as stupid and superficial any morally better? Unfortunately, we live in society that is obsessed with beauty and appearance, and I’m fairly certain NONE of you are immune to that fixation. Sorority/fraternity life is merely a microcosm of the way the world works. Unfair, sure. But true? Absolutely.

    And yes, I am a proud “sorority girl.” In fact, I am a Delta Zeta.

  7. GAVNO

    In college, I was a Frat Rat… a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon.

    In the ’70s, on my campus the Phi Pigs were the ONLY fraternity that had Black members. We didn’t have a single Jock, or so-called “Campus Leader” in our ranks. You didn’t have to be a spoiled, socially climbing yuppie rich kid to become a Phi Sig. A lot of our guys were geeky, and even more were independent thinkers and unconventional. Even among other chapters we were unusual… but welcome in the fold just the same.

    If our National had the brass balls to come in and try to tell us who we could and couldn’t have as members, living in our house, the National reps would probably have been run out of the frat house at gunpoint (we did a LOT of hunting in my fraternity!).

    The next thing that would have happened would have been a meeting for a vote to DROP our national affiliation; our chapter started as an independent, and going back to that status because we didn’t agree with the National’s policies wouldn’t have been that big a deal.

    THAT’S the kind of independent thinking and group loyalty the Greek system is SUPPOSED to be fostering. It’s called “character”.

    It seems to me that the De Pauw Deltas have opened themselves up to a few LAWSUITS, and thier National backed them right into that particular blowtorch.

    First things first tho…

    Unless De Pauw actually believes in this sort of discrimination, it’s time to kick the sorority chapter OFF CAMPUS.

    If they don’t, it’s a sign that De Pauw is proably comfortable with going back to the days when MANY campuses accepted chapters of the Ku Klux Klan as legitimate fraternities… and those days aren’t THAT long ago.

  8. Anne Turnbull

    I wanted to compliment you on your role of “devil’s advocate”. I am a Delta Zeta alumnae who had an incredible experience at my chapter and am sadend that this localized instance is reflecting on not only Delta Zeta, but also the Greek system as a whole.
    I joined the house a quarter late, choosing to live in an apartment “all on my own”. In my apartment living, I went from a 3.8 GPA in highschool, to a 1.5 in college. I joined the house, needing stability. They instantly raised my GPA to a 3.5 by the next quarter. The sorority enforced a required study hall for me, and provided tutors to help in all my classes. Their main focus was grades, not looks. We had a wide range of girls in the house, and NEVER discriminated against girls by race, pocket book, or appearance.
    I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We don’t know the whole story here, and in my opinion it was poor journalistic research on the NY times. It’s not an easy task explaining Greek life to those not involved, especially to those who left the house. There are certain things that you learn through the years living in a sorority, things that don’t become 100% clear until well after you’ve graduated and left the house.

    Thank you for at least acknowledging that there is possibly more to the story, and that we all shouldn’t assume that because it involves the Greek system we’re watching yet another scene from National Lampoon’s Animal House!

  9. BK

    I am a Greek alumna and former Panhel member from DePauw. What DZ is doing is nothing new. We were told during recruitment to “look cute” and “wear makeup and do your hair.” When we went out, we were told that we were representing our sorority and to dress accordingly. It’s tough being the lowest sorority on the totem pole. I understand how DZ nationals felt, which is a very strong organization nationwide. It’s tough to change the perception of a sorority. And, let’s face it, these houses are run more like businesses than places that foster philanthropy and sisterhood bonds. If nationals felt that the chapter wasn’t recruiting enough women (or the wrong type to continue a strong recruitment class), what they did made business sense. Does it make common sense? No. But, like one poster mentioned earlier, sororities are no longer about sisterhood and turning girls into women.

  10. missy

    i have friends in sororities and have nothing against members, but jesus christ i could never put up with the bullshit of pledging. at usc, girls must always “look pretty” while wearing the required sorority logo wear during pledging and after on certain days. i have gorgeous friends who have been yelled at numerous times for not dressing up enough, meaning ridiculous hair and makeup, while wearing their fucking sorority wifebeaters. that’s classy. and no offense to the thetas, but i thought i kept running into the same girl 5 times when i first transferred until i realized that all the thetas look exactly alike: thin with long blond hair.
    it seems there’s always the diversity sorority and frat, and then the rest are all barbie and ken dolls.

  11. Melissa

    I am proud to say that I am a HISPANIC alumnua of Delta Zeta Sorority. Many sororities, like Delta Zeta, have problems concerning loyalty and committment. What Delta Zeta is doing is nothing new; usually during a the rush period undedicated women are cut. Delta Zeta is not discriminatory nor judgemental. Delta Zeta builds character and cultivates the deepest and truest friendships among members no matter what size, shape, or ethnicity.

    In the flame,
    Melissa

  12. Lily

    Ouch. I’m a DZ alum… and I hate reading things like this about sororities. Especially MINE. Our chapter was always one of the top on campus – and I can tell you it’s because our membership was diverse and extraordinary young women. Not everyone was attractive, or had a perfect body. From athletes to beauty queens to couch potatoes… we had it all. And it WORKED, because we were all there to be friends, meet people, and have fun.

    DZ was an amazing part of my life. I sincerely hope that this isn’t true, and you can bet I’ll be contacting National to find out. The way to be the best isn’t to discriminate, it’s to include and celebrate our differences as women.

  13. Allie

    I graduated from DePauw and was a member of a sorority. I am so disappointed in DZ, my school, the greek system, etc. I really enjoyed my time in the greek system, but the longer I’m out of school, the more critical I am of this system. I remember crying my eyes our during rush when I got cut from houses, not being invited to frat parties because my sorority wasn’t cool enough, guys asking me what house I was in before they asked me my name, etc. Despite my good memories of the greek system, I have to admit I wouldn’t want my daughter to go through this. I wish I never fell prey to this ridiculous system.

  14. Sarah

    Yeah, for $400+ a semester and $50 for not attending a meeting, I could foster some sisterhood too…

    Most of the sororities on my campus have turned themselves into a complete joke by “house cleaning”. My friend was a DZ and kicked out because she wanted to play rugby too. Was it conflicting with her schedule with the sorority? Nope. Was she being less dedicated? Nope. They just didn’t want their name associated with, and I quote, “a bunch of dykes”.

  15. Hey

    Come off the PC BS. There’s no such ting as “conventionally” pretty. You pretty or you ain’t. Judging by the pics from the NYT, the girls that were cut were Omega Moos.

    DZ did a poor job in handling their problems, but let’s not deny the facts. Nobody likes a fatty.

  16. Jo Armstrong

    Sororities are lame and every cool chick knows it! I went to Yale and every chick that was in a sorority was either clueless or a wanna be. They are the girls that still talk about their glory days in college and high school. Sororities and frats should be outlawed, but then again, it is a good way to judge people. If I meet anyone who was in a sorority or frat I know immediately to run, and run fast!

  17. Greek Alum

    National panhellenic sororities ARE run like businesses and they have every right to be run like that. If I contributed $50+ every month to an organization that somehow connects myself to a bunch of other girls, then I would definitely want other people’s perception of those girls, and therefore myself, to be at least positive. This is also a smart business move. The sorority then attracts more girls thus allowing them to eventually raise their quota and bring in more money to the sorority. DZ’s ability to attract girls became compromised so actions were taken. The girls that were kicked out should have their past dues refunded since they shouldn’t have been allowed to pledge anyways :)

  18. Carolyn

    I go to an Australian university and to tell you the truth the whole greek system sounds crazy to me. All the clubs on my campus are open for membership, any who wants to join is in for a nominal yearly fee (AU$5). I do theatre, comedy, sport and music related things, each contributing to my social group at uni and my sense of belonging. Most people I know now live in share houses with people they met doing one of these activities. It’s possible to get all the positive things of sororities without all the craziness of an actual sorority. Anyway, we’re adults now, it’s time to embrace individuality and stop letting others dictate our lifestyle.

  19. Proud DZ

    This whole ordeal was HEAVILY miscontstrued. I attend the chapter nearest to DePauw, and was present at recruitment. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean I know everything, but at least I have a much better understanding than the NY Times.
    1.)The girls they kept looked just like the girls that were given alumni status. I don’t mean this in a positive or negative way, it’s just a fact. Girls of different sizes, etc.
    2.)All three parties could have improved things to avoid this whole mess; -sisters could have ACTIVELY been contributing to the chapter (they couldn’t even get an executive board together b/c no one wanted to run for a position. -DZ could have been clearer in their intentions, and -DePauw University could have given DZ the opportunity to close and recolonize, instead of just refusing (That chapter was founded in 1909).
    3.)My chapter is made up of over 100 girls of different races, body types, and interests. Engineering majors, women’s soccer team, homecoming queen, chorus members, and many girls who could care less about their appearance on their way to class. And I shouldn’t have to defend them. We bring out the best in each other, and we have succeeded as a chapter b/c: -we’re diverse, -we actively participate in campus and DZ events, and -we CARE about the success of our chapter.
    4.)As a tiny addendum, I loathe being labelled a “plastic Barbie doll”.

  20. Claire

    I am in a sorority right now and am disgusted by that. Obviously if you can’t fill your quota you can’t run the house. Period. Things will not be run efficiently and it is a BUSINESS. You are paying for your housing, your food, your events NOT your friends. I pay $2250 to live in so that I do live in a nice house with cooks and cleaning and parking. However, if a time ever happened in our house where we couldn’t pay for our rent, our gas bill, our water, etc. Nationals would come in here and ask us why we can’t do this or that.

    However, in no way should any sorority or organization base who should be a sister of a house if they are overweight, underweight, ugly, pretty, smart, stupid ANYTHING! You were chosen for a reason to be in a house, and telling a person who is overweight but a wonderful person that she isn’t a sister compared to the girl down the hall who has an eating disorder with no self esteem that she belongs over the other is wrong. Filling quota is one thing, being a morally corrupt individual is another.

    And “Hey” go suck a dick. You were obviously the guy who wanted to get laid by a sorority girl but the acne drove them off. Actually I’m sorry. That was mean. I’m sure Craig’s List is working great for you.

  21. sorority girl with a friend

    This story is a sad one indeed. I think, though, that in a time like this, it is important for people to realize that a situation such as the one a DePauw DOES NOT define the organization chapters everywhere else. My best friend is the president of her DZ chapter on her campus. She loves it. She is doing great things with her sisters and they have a quite diverse sisterhood. That’s what it is. It is a sisterhood. Now, on campus, they are getting ridiculed for the problems with their national. It’s rediculous. Stop using one group to define all of the others. I am in a local sorority on my campus that broke away from its national because of the restrictions on who could be allowed into the sorority. But years before, that national was on my campus and my older sisters were a part of it. Now that we are broken off doesn’t mean that our chapter was “bad” because there were problems with a national. It means that my sisters made a choice just as the 6 girls who left the sorority after the clean-up. Moral of the story: stop judging all DZ’s.

  22. Ani

    I’m going to be unPC and whatnot, but here’s the bottom line from what I can see…

    Some sororities don’t like the uglies, fatties or dykes. As such, these sororities don’t accept them. Fine. Big deal. It’s not exactly a surprise to anyone. However, to let someone in and then say “Oh, well, you’re not dedicated enough to laying off the Twinkies, MOVE THE FUCK OUT!” is wrong. Period.

    Are there good sororities? Yes. Are there bad ones? Yes. Spare us your anectdotal evidence – on both sides – and just cut the BS. Either it’s a business or it’s an organization to help girls become women. It’s not both. Stop sugarcoating it already.

  23. I posted a response letter in the NYT to the article. I am a Delta Zeta and disgusted. My pledge class consisted of two handicapped and plenty of “curvy” women. Is this what we want to teach women today? You have to fit a mold? I guess Barbie is alive and well.

  24. GAVNO

    >> DZ did a poor job in handling their problems, but let’s not deny the facts. Nobody likes a fatty. <<

    Speak for yourself, Penis Breath. Not EVERYONE is as SHALLOW and BIGOTED as you apparently are.

  25. smartnactive

    Hi there. I have a question for Proud DZ who said the following:…***…

    Proud DZ said:
    This whole ordeal was HEAVILY miscontstrued. I attend the chapter nearest to DePauw, and was present at recruitment. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean I know everything, but at least I have a much better understanding than the NY Times…***…

    It sounds as though you were one of the DZs from Indiana who was invited to help recruit new members while 25 De Pauw active members were asked to stay upstairs and out of sight. Is this true? If so, what was the reason given, if not because of the personal appearance of those 25 girls? I realize the media can misconstrue and mislead, but I’m at a loss as to how that particular action could be interpreted as anything other than vile rejection on the part of DZ national. Genuinely curious here.

  26. Kari

    I did not join a sorority in college specifically for this reason, I was not going to “buy” my friends. However, this story about the Delta Zetas inparticular saddens me. My grandmother and mother were both DZs, in fact my grandmother was her chapter’s president and continued to attend conventions and such, up until she was physically unable to do so. Heck, if I had ended up in a sorority it would have been this one. (I had a DZ t-shirt on in baby pictures right after I came home from the hospital) Unfortunately, the school she and my mother (and I) attended lost their Delta Zeta chapter in the 1990′s but when my mother was there in the 70′s it was the “ugly girl” sorority. In a similar situation as this current one, the Sigma Nu frat on campus never showed up for their scheduled Date Night as a “protest” to these girls…How incredibly cruel!

    So to come to a point here, while I must say that sadly, a lot of the time I expect this kind of behavior out of many Greeks (NOTE: I realize not all Greeks are like this) it does make me sad to see the sorority my family has belonged to, specifically participate in something so childish and callous.

    There are more important things to life than your chapter’s recruitment.

  27. DZ VP OF MEMBERSHIP

    honestly you people think you are so intellectual saying that sorority girls are dumb, that you’d steer clear from them, and all that. If you really are that way i’d expect more from you. take a good look at those articles, do you see one quote from the Delta Zeta camp? NO. doesn’t that make it seem like the info they’re getting is a little iffy???
    Did you know that the girls that went alumn status did it on their own? They were asked if they wanted to participate in recruitment if they didn’t, that meant they wouldn’t be active, which meant that they would be going alumna status.
    They were not evicted, dz made prior arrangements and payed the difference for these girls to live at the dorms.
    Are you all aware that although I do’t know those girls they are still my sisters? They didn’t have they’re badges pulled. They are still delta zetas.
    And so we’re clear the girls that went alumn weren’t the ones who called the nytimes, it was someone else.
    FINALLY people reorganizations in greek orgs is normal, this one was just blown waaaaaaaay out of proportion, one sided and misconstrued. I’m over all the negativity being thrown at an organization that has helped philanthropically and helped form such poised and educated ladies that will be and already are leaders in todays world.
    So next time you’re as quick to judge make sure you look at what the information your receiving really says, cause all of you who started bad mouthing us didn’t even stop to think that it honestly did lack any point of view from the other side and that it could mean there was something extremely wrong with the info you’re getting.

  28. Anne Turnbull

    Well said, DZ VP OF MEMBERSHIP!

    The articles which have been published regarding the Delta Zeta chapter at DePauw are inaccurate and grossly mishcaracterized.

    The facts are: Delta Zeta DePauw members voted in August to close the chapter at the end of the 2006-2007 school year. The women’s majority vote meant that they could live in the house and be relieved of active membership duties, including the intense work of recruiting on a daily basis. The intent was for Delta Zeta to close and reorganize to return at a later date.

    The University indicated that Delta Zeta, which has been on the DePauw campus for 98 years, would not be guaranteed a return. Then Delta Zeta follwoed the University official’s recommendations to undertake a membership review.

    This review was to see which women could commit to the rebuilding of the chapter. Other members, who no longer wanted to engage in day-to-day recruiting and commit to the rebuilding process, became alumnae members of the Sorority.

    It is here in communicating the results that Delta Zeta made a mistake. Delta Zeta misjudged how these communications would be received.

    A NY Times reporter interviewed one of the 6 remaining girls who continue to live in the house who gave this exact same statement… but they failed to go to print with it.

    I think that the real issue that we should be concerned with is the journalistic integrity of our country. If a front page story in the NY Times only has the one side of the story, what about the other articles? How many other articles are they printing with only half of the story, ignoring the truth?

  29. DZ Spirit Chair

    I just want to say that I think it is completely unfair to judge an entire National association because of the act of one chapter in the country. Also, is anyone here a student at DePaw University? Were you personally there to see this whole thing unfold? It’s doubtful. Most people who talk about this issue really have nothing to do with it. Really, does the media ever tell the complete and whole truth about anything? People like to talk, people like to gossip. I am a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority and at my school, we are the most diverse group of girls on campus. DZ should not be hated because this happened at one university when I am positive most people have not heard both sides of this story. I don’t think it is anyone’s busy to discriminate and talk about something they know little about. Yes, the greek system likes to have a good appearance and wants girls in their sororities to be smart, active, and involved- that doesn’t mean they have to be perfectly fit, barbie doll size, and pleasing all the frat guys! I am certainly not perfect or anything like that, but my sisters welcomed me into this AMAZING sorority and I am blessed to be a part of it! So please, before getting all worked up and talking about how horrible the Delta Zeta sisterhood is, research it a little more and don’t just listen to what the media tells you.

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