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Delta Zeta at DePauw

Although my first instinct was to hold my tongue and let this maelstrom pass, I can no longer refrain from commenting on what has transpired in the past few months at the Delta Chapter of Delta Zeta on DePauw University’s campus. I am an alum of DePauw and of Delta Chapter, and I am saddened by the national media’s predatory instincts and by the University that I have financially supported these past ten years (not to mention tuition dollars paid) taking steps to cover up its own complicity in the situation. For those of you who haven’t read about this, here is a summary of the facts (my opinions to follow of course!):

  • Delta Chapter’s membership has been on the decline SINCE I WAS IN COLLEGE. So we’re talking a 10-year slump, not a momentary bump in the road.
  • The collegians voted to close the chapter at the beginning of this school year.
  • Delta Zeta HQ took that request to the University and was told that they would not be guaranteed that they could reopen if they did a full recolonization (which involves giving all the current college women alum status and starting from scratch with a new batch of members).
  • Delta Zeta is approaching its 100 year anniversary on DePauw’s campus, so this is an important time to make sure that there’s still a DZ chapter at DPU.
  • Delta Zeta conducted a membership review, as requested by DePauw University, and offered all but 12 of the members alum status.
  • Six of those remaining 12 women chose alum status in protest of the other women being offered alum status.
  • Some of the women who left the chapter have been interviewed by or appeared on such shows as Dateline, The View, and CNN, and have been quoted in the New York Times and other major publications.

First let me say that I have utmost sympathy for the women offered alum status. DePauw is predominantly Greek and much of the social life at DePauw revolves around the houses. I would not personally want to be an alum living in campus housing, nor would I want to be separated from my sisters (who are, coincidentally, still some of my best friends 10 years later). Honestly, I believe the timing of the whole process, which happened close to finals, was poor. But I also feel that the University put Delta Zeta in a difficult position: The month of January is a “winter term” where many students are off campus and Recruitment was the first weekend of February. Something had to be done before Recruitment, leaving DZ with little flexibility with regards to timing. I would propose that the president of DPU, Bob Bottoms, has had it out for the Greek system since I was a student and continues to undermine the houses and highlight their problems despite multiple fact-finding commissions that found that alumnae, who financially support the university, want the Greek system to remain in place and would likely sever ties to the University if the Greek system was banned from campus. I would also assert that the national media lured young women who were in an emotionally vulnerable position into providing damning interviews about Delta Zeta. If I were 19 years old, feeling hurt as a result of years of being ostracized by the DePauw community, and was suddenly called by a major network and offered the opportunity to fly to New York to talk about it, I would not refuse. It would be so easy for famous journalists to abuse their fame and influence and get these women to say whatever would make the best story (for example, that the women were given alum status because they were fat, or because they were people of color, or because they were not “sexually attractive” enough). I invite DePauw University to accept the fact that this situation exists and instead of pointing fingers or sending letters of reprimand that completely deny the University’s own knowledge of and complicity in the situation, do something to help the women who were given alum status and the women who have stayed active and are attempting to rebuild the chapter. It is a delicate situation, to be sure, but not an irreparable one. I would also invite those who have callously sent hate mail to my sisters to cease and desist. The alums involved in this situation are not only my friends, but women of immense personal and professional integrity who have dedicated many hours to serving a philanthropic organization. These women are kind and, contrary to media portrayals, concerned about the Delta Zeta women (alum and active) at DePauw. They want the chapter to survive just like I do, and they would never compromise their integrity just to get new members. They acted in the sorority’s best interest in a very delicate situation and sadly, hurt feelings and misunderstandings have arisen and been compounded by the media. I would also invite those members of the public who do not know what the Greek system is like on DePauw’s campus to look at the pictures I have posted of my family. I am an active Delta Zeta alum in good standing and it will be immediately obvious that I do not fit the “Legally Blond” image of sorority life. That is not what Delta Zeta is about (at DePauw or internationally) and the notion that women were asked to leave because of their race or sexual orientation is insulting to all who are a part of Delta Zeta.
Now I challenge the University and Delta Zeta HQ to find a swift resolution so that the DZs at DePauw can get on with what should be their primary focus: their education. And I challenge the media to research their stories before regurgitating misinformation as cold hard fact.
Some additional reading on the topic:

5 Responses to Delta Zeta at DePauw

  1. Natalie

    Sorry, but I found this linked to another message board. I am intrigued that you seem to dismiss the National

    sorority’s responsibility in this matter. The phrase, “they would never compromise their integrity just to get new members” makes me laugh especially,

    since I was a Rho Gamma who had to monitor Delta Zeta during first round of recruitment. Not only did a national representative announce in her presentation

    that the members who were recommended for alumna status had strayed from Delta Zeta values, but I then had to deal with distressed freshmen women who told me

    that the girls rushing them (IU and Purdue DZ pledges) had been told by DZ Nationals that they wouldn’t be initiated if they didn’t help with DePauw’s

    recruitment. I would argue that BOTH of these instances show their LACK of integrity. I won’t even begin to mention the things that the representatives

    said at the “DZ Hypocrits” meeting that completely inflamed the student body as well as were complete crocks of crap.

    I am not a Delta Zeta, but some

    of my best friends are. Delta Zeta nationals were not the ones who had to reassure these women that they are good people who hadn’t done anything wrong.

    In fact, the representatives and every other person I’ve encountered from Delta Zeta has just made the situation worse. I’m sorry that as an alumna, you

    are upset by the situation, but do not excuse the actions of the National office. The way to solve campus bias against the women of the house was not to

    come in and validate what had previously been said and to place blame on those members who had been forced into taking alumna status. Maybe if you had heard

    the things that I heard (even from an outsiders’ perspective) you might understand why there is so much outrage surrounding this situation.

  2. julie

    I wanted to let everyone know that I am not in any way excusing the actions of Delta Zeta. Deb

    Raziano (president of Delta Zeta) has herself admitted that the timing and content of the communications to the chapter were not handled well and created

    confusion & hurt feelings and she has apologized for that. And know that many alums have been in contact with HQ to ask for answers, propose solutions, and

    encourage DZ National to do what it can to correct this awful situation.

    What has most infuriated me about all of this is the University’s claims

    that they were “shocked” by DZ’s actions when they were, in fact, involved in the decision -making process that led to the women being given alumnae status.

    This situation, sadly, dates back to well before I was a collegiate (I graduated in 1997). Certain members of the University, including Bob Bottoms, are

    determined to undermine the Greek system. This led to two sororities (AOPi & AGD) leaving campus during my years at DePauw and I just want to protect Delta

    Zeta from meeting the same fate. Having said that, my heart goes out to the women who were given alum status, and the women who have chosen to stay active in

    the chapter. I cannot imagine how awful it was to learn about being given alum status right before finals, or having to take alum status before graduation

    (although this is sadly a normal practice with chapters, not just DZ, who are struggling to maintain membership). There are no easy solutions and I think our

    job now as people who care about DePauw is to try to mend the hurt and allow all of you to get on with your education instead of being pulled into a media

    circus or a power struggle between the University and Delta Zeta.

  3. Delta Zeta Alum

    I recently graduated and became a DZ alum. When I joined Delta Zeta in 2003 as a sophomore,

    I was privileged to become a member of one of the most respected and liked houses on campus. The women were intelligent and motivated leaders who at the

    same time were immersed socially and in the community. Every year at recruitment we filled our quota, with hundreds of hopeful women seeking membership.

    I wish I could honestly say that I am shocked and appalled at the recent activity at DePauw, but unfortunately I am only appalled. Although my

    pledge class was an amazing group of diverse women (both in terms of physical appearance and personality), all of a sudden I noticed that any overweight or

    unconventional women that I fell in love with during recruitment did not get asked back to become a member… and all of a sudden the diversity in my chapter

    began to disappear.

    Today I am embarrassed to wear my letters when I go back to campus for Homecoming or to visit friends. Although we have a

    “beautiful” group of women running around wearing DZ letters, the chapter has fell behind in grades, reputation, and most importantly character. A practice

    of recruiting pretty girls regardless of personality, intelligence, and ambition has yielded exactly what they wanted… a group of pretty, mean spirited,

    and low character women who are slowly losing respect form the Pan-Hellenic community all over the country. This is not to say that the chapter hasn’t

    gotten lucky and recruited beautiful women who also happen to be leaders, but when an emphasis is placed on image and social activities, these leaders are

    few and far between.

    Although I am disappointed in the actions of nationals and the direction that my chapter is headed, I will never regret the

    three years that I spent as an active member. I had amazing times and made amazing friends… unfortunately it seems as if future generations of women at my

    alma madder will not experience the same from my chapter.

  4. Joanna

    As one of the two women who

    “was suddenly called by a major network and offered the opportunity to fly to New York to talk about it,” I want to make it clear that I was never in any way

    instructed to lie about what happend. The statements made both by Lyndsay and myself were reflections of our perception of the events surrounding our

    chapter’s reorganization. Anything to the contrary is completely insulting to our intelligence.

  5. Joanna

    I am not asserting that the national media has not spun what the alumnae women have said, because they have. The most accurate

    representation of what happened would be the interview with Good Morning America, because it did not include any voice-overs or reinterpretations of our

    statements. What we said, include the intent behind it, was what aired. In other media outlets, our quotes were often twisted to express things we did not

    intend to express.
    I’m not saying the media isn’t biased, because it is. In many of my interviews, I spoke with the interviewer for over an hour and

    they only used the most sensational quote I uttered. Also, in each interview both Lyndsay and I expressed that we were unhappy with the actions of the

    National representative, not with the Delta actives, nor with DZ members across the country, but each and every time, this important message was cut out

    because it did not fit the news media’s agenda. I’m glad that you are telling people to stop ridiculing and persecuting the remaining six women and I

    whole-heartedly agree, but that does not mean that any claims that the members asked to leave the chapter were not asked partially based upon appearance.

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