Anyway, representatives from national swooped in and summarily evicted 23 members--including all (or, according to some reports, all but one) minorities and everyone who was a little overweight. Of the twelve remaining “sisters,” six resigned in protest over the action.
The heartless women from national evicted these women on December 2, just before finals, as has been widely reported. In an eloquent letter of protest to Delta Zeta’s headquarters from DePauw’s president, Robert Bottoms, he notes that the timing of the notices created “an unacceptable disruption in the academic lives of our students.” I can only imagine the distress of these young women, most of whom care about their grades and their education, upon learning this news just as they were gearing up to study for exams.
This action--and the DZ officials’ lame, double-talking justifications of it on CNN and elsewhere--has only reconfirmed my very worst suspicions of what is wrong with sororities and the Greek system in general. I am outraged at the evictions themselves--so antithetical to sisterhood--and the timing of them--so hostile to education. Susie Bright, so clever and so much brasher than I, writes about how the “Greek system is founded on discriminations of race, class, and family— sugar-coated over the years as a ‘way to make friends.’” Then she gets to the heart of what is so sickening about this action--and so heartening about the admirable, brave behavior of the young DePauw women since. She reminds us how sororities “prey on every freshman's fear of being lonely and miserable.” Furthermore, she says, let us not forget what it means that DZ national so prizes pretty women who are good at “recruiting”:
It's the heightened heterosexual regime of trophy wife assembly. These young women must learn to project the promise of Virgin WASP Money while getting sloshed and performing merit-based blow jobs on a calculated ladder of potential husbands, i.e., frat-brats. Plenty of the De Pauw ‘undesirables’ had boyfriends and sex lives— they just weren't ‘partying’ hard enough. Yep, their booze and tease stats were too low to qualify.Disgustingly put--and deservedly so. Bright’s vulgarity lays bare the vulgarity of how the Greek system continues an old-fashioned middle-class marriage market in which women attend college to secure their class position not through career but through marriage.
I taught at DePauw for four years and I remember Delta Zeta as an all right sorority. On a campus where the vast majority of students belong to a sorority, it was difficult to maintain my natural suspicion of the Greek system. And, as you might imagine, when three quarters of the students are “Greek,” some of the sororities and fraternities turn out to be all right--not as horrific and exclusionary as the usual run of such organizations. Newsweek quotes DePauw’s Dean of Students as praising the old DZ for filling "a great, eclectic niche." That’s not, as Newsweek notes, typical of sororities. Still, the model of houses (maybe) being like special interest dormitories was the one that prevailed when I was at DePauw. And, judging by the school’s memo of its recommitment to Greek Life, it continues to be the hope of the DePauw administration.
I do not see how anyone can continue to countenance that hope in the face of these events. It’s time for the sororities and fraternities to go. It’s time to find a better way to help college students find friends and overcome the social terror of moving from home into the world.
There was a lot of talk all over the web about this last week. MommyPhD does some eloquent hand-wringing over this--she is a DZ alum; BitchPhD praised the sisterhood of the resigning six--everyone’s heroes, for sure; some well-meaning but naïve mothers and boyfriends are quoted over at mothertalkers; Jennifer Weiner is mad, too. And you can find more at the university website and the very good student newspaper.