Sorority's discriminating days are numbered

Delta Zeta gets the boot after kicking out members based on looks.

Published March 12, 2007 6:32PM (EDT)

Delta Zeta, infamous for booting members of one of its Indiana chapters based on looks, weight and race, is making headlines again. This time because it's the sorority that's being shown the door: DePauw University announced today that it will no longer recognize the sorority.

In a letter to the sorority's president, DePauw president Robert G. Bottoms wrote: "We at DePauw believe that the values of our university and those of Delta Zeta sorority are incompatible." We hope that's true. But before national sorority leaders pushed for the chapter's makeover, it was known for housing a diverse group of intelligent and academically driven women. It doesn't reflect too well on the university that the chapter was derided by students as the "dog house" or that interest in purported philanthropic student groups critically lags without the additional bonus of raging keggers. Delta Zeta responded to insufficient enrollment by trying to make the chapter over in the image of the other sororities on campus. Sure, it's disgusting -- but the larger campus culture shouldn't get a free pass, either. Is Delta Zeta out of step with DePauw because it discriminated based on appearance or because it did so brashly, attracting national media attention?

Just yesterday the Associated Press had an odd piece using the Delta Zeta shakeup as a way in to discussing a cultural obsession with looks and an increasing willingness to mock those who don't measure up. As much as some of the cited evidence seems appropriate -- the nasty judges on "American Idol," for instance -- the piece ultimately takes on a detached "kids these days" tone. For instance, young adults are "more narcissistic and materialistic than their predecessors," the piece intones.

That may be true, but let's also not forget that we're talking about the often (and historically) image-obsessed Greek system. What's next, citing an episode of "The Real World" as a lead-in to talking about the prevalence of hot tub orgies among the 20-something set? A little perspective, please!

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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