Please visit the new home of Majikthise at

« Say what? | Main | Sunday Sermonette: Oliver Willis »

February 25, 2007

Delta Zeta "sorority": No fat chicks

The Delta Zeta sorority chapter at DePauw University has a reputation for recruiting smart women from diverse backgrounds, especially students who excel in math and science.

When the national chapter heard that some psych students at the university were stereotyping the sisters as "socially awkward," the swung into action, evicting all but the skinny pretty white girls:

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 new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit. [NYT]

You really have to read the whole article to get a sense of how egregiously and unambiguously Delta Zeta culled the "undesirables" from the sorority house.

The NYT article gives the impression that the DePauw chapter was a vibrant and supportive community that wasn't prepared to kiss the asses of the national reps:

Robin Lamkin, a junior who is an editor at The DePauw and was one of the 23 women evicted, said many of her sisters bought new outfits and modeled them for each other before the interviews. Many women declared their willingness to recruit diligently, Ms. Lamkin said.

A few days after the interviews, national representatives took over the house to hold a recruiting event. They asked most members to stay upstairs in their rooms. To welcome freshmen downstairs, they assembled a team that included several of the women eventually asked to stay in the sorority, along with some slender women invited from the sorority’s chapter at Indiana University, Ms. Holloway said.

“They had these unassuming freshman girls downstairs with these plastic women from Indiana University, and 25 of my sisters hiding upstairs,” she said. “It was so fake, so completely dehumanized. I said, ‘This calls for a little joke.’ ”

Ms. Holloway put on a wig and some John Lennon rose-colored glasses, burst through the front door and skipped around singing, “Ooooh! Delta Zeta!” and other chants.

The face of one of the national representatives, she recalled, “was like I’d run over her puppy with my car.”

The national representatives announced their decisions in the form letters, delivered on Dec. 2, which said that Delta Zeta intended to increase membership to 95 by the 2009 anniversary, and that it would recruit using a “core group of women.” [NYT]

Good for these young women for standing up for themselves. Delta Zeta didn't deserve them.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Delta Zeta "sorority": No fat chicks:

» DePauw Kicks Out Delta Zeta from The Debate Link
Via Sacha Zimmerman, apparently DePauw University has kicked out the Delta Zeta sorority, which had made news after its national HQ expelled a significant portion of its house members on-campus. The exiled women included pretty much anyone who was no... [Read More]


I have to admit: I don't entirely understand the rationale behind this pogrom -- probably because I don't really understand the rationale behind sororities generally. Is a sorority a kind of value-added branding? "Oh, wow, she's Delta Zeta! She's worth two Omega Alphas!" Is it like a real-estate market, where value is dependent on the value of proximal properties? "Have you seen the latest Delta Zetas? They've dropped from an average of 6.3 to 4.8 on"

This behaviour is just counter-intuitive. What adult behaves like this?

I've always felt that fraternities and sororities should be one Greek tradition we should abandon. Call me cocky and arrogant, but I always felt that it was never necessary to buy my friends when I was in college. Hopefully this story will help more young people realize this.

The Greek system never appealed to me in the slightest. I know some people who've had really good experiences with it, usually people who belonged to organizations that were somehow "alternative" relative to mainstream fraternity culture.

It sounds like the girls at DePauw created a kind of "geek" sorority, which the national chapter quickly moved to squash because it threatened what the organization was really about which was making geeks feel bad. The national chapter's actions reinforce all the worst stereotypes about sororities, including deceitfulness.

As an alumna of this Delta Zeta chapter, I can tell you that what attracted me to the greek system was this house, where women who cared more about personality, academics, community involvement, openness and giving spirit than money or looks. Although we were the smallest house on campus, we did cut women in recruitment - not based on their outfit, but on things like attitude, campus involvement, community service and grades. We were about quality and giving back. We were small, but proud because we honestly felt we had the only genuine sisterhood built on mutual respect and unconditional support for one another.

It's not only upsetting that our national organization clearly doesn't care about any of these things, but also that the women who were evicted joined the house based on its honesty and openness, only to be told they didn't deserve it.

I was a fraternity member in my college days and most of my experiences with that group were very positive. Many things I learned thgough my Greek days have led me to where I am today. Most fraternity and sorority members are very good and caring people. What the Delta Zeta nationals did to this chapter though is deplorible! The most appropriate thing for DePauw to do would be to revoke this chapter's charter. This is an embarrasment to the Greek system as a whole. Please do not think negatively of other organizations because of DZ's shortcomings.

"This behaviour is just counter-intuitive. What adult behaves like this?"

Adults behave like this constantly. Sororities and fraternaties are social networking organizations where one can develop relationships that, later in life, will be useful both in one's career and in one's personal life. Most professional adults belong to organizations that allow them to develop relationships that will be useful to them, both economically and socially. And every organization needs some form of demarcation to signifiy who is in and who is out. Some organizations are wide open and accepting, others are strict and limiting. How an organization limits membership shapes what kinds of relationships one can expect to make by belonging to that organization. For instance, if you are a photographer, you can join the ASMP. You will meet many other photographers in that organization, and some of those contacts might prove useful to you, but since the ASMP allows anyone to join, there is no certainty that the people you meet are talented. Another kind of organization might strictly limit membership. Some recreational community sports teams are like this. Because the membership is limited, you can expect the members to more closely conform to whatever the expected attributes of members are.

Adults behave like this constantly.

Yes, indeed they do -- sadly. Perhaps I should have written, "what intellectually mature, modern, self-respecting adult woman behaves like this?" I wasn't trying to imply that people who join groups are immature -- people can't help but join groups. My question was directed specifically at women organizing to maximize their commodity value. It seems to me that these invaders came to correct the character of the particular chapter, such that it realigned from the "women with freedom to become who they want" back to "women who are maximally attractive to powerful men." This is a retreat from fifty years of hard-earned social progress.

I am certainly glad that this Greek B.S. has never really taken hold significantly in Canada. When I attended my university, there was talk of a possible fraternity opening, but it was thoroughly discredited, and subjected to popular scorn and ridicule before it had a chance to gain any momentum.


That fraternity you were in must have had an extremely liberal vetting process.

Delta Zeta is hardly the only Greek organization that has behaved in the manner of the bratpack of "Lord Of The Flies". If the excluded women were pledges (and not full-fledged members) the sorority's "leaders" might be able to mount some sort of tortured defense for their actions. It certainly appears that they simply got rid of people they did not like. Shame on them and shame on you for being their apologist. I suspect the memory of their Greek experience for the greater number of brothers and sisters is, at best, somewhat fuzzy.

Dan Dunn

Is your argument that this sort of thing is OK, because it's a common practice? I have been listening to those in power for years explain away their own reprehensible acts by saying they are just part of "human nature". These same people, of course, depict homosexuality, alcoholism, battered women syndrome, and poverty as 'lifestyle choices' or character flaws.

Given the nature of the media images of women and girls that we are spoon-fed in heaping quantities that glorify and objectify women's perfect and non-blemished bodies, almost all white and thin, it's not difficult to understand how a group of young white college women could make a decision to jettison the sorority defectives. Add to that the perfect young white female bodies that are imbedded in the brains of young white male college students by the industries of objectification and pornography, these young women were simply living up to what they believe are natural and mainstream, and standardized for them by male privilege and image-making. Unfortunately, it's all too convenient for most men and way too many women to deny these realities. The culture of male violence and female oppression in this country won't end any time soon as long as we all buy into the paradigm.

Hey democommie,

I think you meant the reply you addressed to Elisabeth for Dann Dunn. The ruled lines in this thread design can be a bit confusing.

Stephen, it wasn't the young women who kicked out their own sorority sisters. It was the "adults" from national HQ who kicked the girls out. Half of the girls who were allowed to stay resigned in solidarity with their jettisoned sisters.

I was impressed that the entire campus stood behind the evicted girls and condemned Delta Zeta. The head of the college rebuked the organization, 55 faculty members signed a petition, and students who weren't in the Greek system stood up for their classmates.

Delta Zeta: Servicing Football Teams Nationwide.

As a current member of a national sorority I am disgusted by this story, however, I am not that surprised. Delta Zeta Headquarter's actions were, I believe, first motivated by the money - a small chapter means less in dues, and less for the National Headquarters (which are not non-profit, by the way). ]

What is deplorable about their actions is that instead of cultivating a chapter that is based on enjoying a diverse society of women and marketing that experience to a specific audience of women, they chose to prove that ugly stereotype of Greek life true and base membership solely on looks. Although every sorority claims to select members based on different aspects of character, honor, integrity, achievment, etc., this story goes to show what a sham that is. I have enjoyed my time in my sorority, mostly because we have tried to resist the importantance of looks and popularity, but in the end I feel I cannot be proud of my affiliation.

Hey Democommie. Read my post again. No, that type of thing is NOT OK. I don't know how much more clear I could have been. Yes, there are many stereotypes of Greek students, just like the ones you posted. Unfortunately, the actions of DZ give people reason to believe that all that much more.

I can assure you that most fraternaties and sororites do not fit that negative, shortsighted image. I thought the same as you about fraternities when I first entered college until I got to know some of them. I was an all out liberal and punk rock fan, and yet a couple of them invited me to join them.

The actions of Delta Zeta are a black mark in what is otherwise still a good system. Go see for yourself and open your mind before casting all Greeks in that impression of yours.

Having had several close relatives go to DU, I'm very glad to hear that so many of the sorority members (and the larger community) stood up for their fellows. It can be a cliquish place.

I would also note that many at DU join fraternities/sororities in part because that's the housing. They don't have dorms to house most students. It's basically a Greek house or a rental in very-small-town Greencastle. The fact that the National tried to evict them mid-year (per the NYT article) is especially scummy, in this light.

Some frats are great. My sister and a couple of other women were made full brothers at Sigma Tau at Hobart/William Smith in 1977. The house did huge amounts of drugs, had the highest GPAs on campus and drove the national organization nuts. I'm still proud of them.

This is one of the funniest things I have ever read when it comes to Greek life! They should make a movie out of this!

I personally rejected Greek life in college as I was an athlete and did not need a fraternity to provide "friends" for me. That being said, I had and still have many friends that were Greeks in college, men and women. But this is exactly the type of stuff I wanted to avoid. So ridiculous. Good for those girls for standing up for themselves.

It's like "Revenge of the Nerds" all over again!

This reminds me of why I chose a small college that had banned frats and soroities. Just in time to coach my kids to do likewise.

After everything we have fought for. Equal rights, the vote, etc..........These sororities are nothing but a bunch of witches out to build themselves up by making fun of others! Way to go SISTERS!
What an asanine way to make friends. Get a life!!!

After everything we have fought for. Equal rights, the vote, etc..........These sororities are nothing but a bunch of witches out to build themselves up by making fun of others! Way to go SISTERS!
What an asanine way to make friends. Get a life!!!

Hello, I am a Delta Zeta from Indiana University. I find it absolutely ridiculous that all of you are reading a few stories, and hearing the opinions of a few people and believing them without questioning objective sources!!!

You can cast the stone, even as a Greek insult the DZ organization, but have you really heard the whole story? Do you honestly think people would be allowed to take people out of a sorority merely based on looks without something national like this happen? Get serious. The national went on CNN even saying these women would be gladly received back into the sorority if they agreed to recruit! They wanted the sorority shut down! They didn't want to put their work into it. They were obviously acting very carelessly about the sorority and it's further improvement and furthering altogether!

Here's a clip from the national's letter:
"After years of struggling to recruit, 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.

On September 12th the request for reorganization was denied by the
University. The University indicated that Delta Zeta, which has been on the
DePauw campus for 98 years, would not be guaranteed a return. University
officials asked Delta Zeta to undertake a membership review.

Delta Zeta members, who could support the national plan to actively recruit,
were asked to remain active. Other members, who no longer wanted to engage
in day-to-day recruiting, became alumnae members of the Sorority.

The sole basis of the decision and the membership review was the women's
commitment to actively recruit"

So, what you should learn from this: THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE.

For "journalists:" Get the FULL facts and start practicing objectivity for once. Don't spit out stories just for ratings. That is pathetic.

Did you forget we have Spanish, Asian and even Black women in DZ at Indiana University? Bet you didn't know that because you were too lazy to check and didn't want to do your job. We're also of all sizes. We are very comfortable with each other, wear sweats, eat pizza and are there for one another at all times. This is so ridiculous that people think we would base this on appearance!

Have you even seen the girls they claim as "plastics"? They are my sisters and I do think they are beautiful INSIDE AND OUT, because I know them deep-heartedly. You don't. So stop with your bias and inaccurate opinions, please.

Your reporting and comments makes me sick as a journalist.

In case people were going to take this wrong (along with other "news" lately) the "even black women" was in response to the alleged charges from 30 years ago written in the NY Times.We are accepting of all races and all kinds of people. I can say this speaking on behalf of my sorority that we do not discriminate, obviously as seen by the evidence.

Well Jennifer, as I said in my comments, I have friends who were "Greek" and do not think poorly of them because of this incident. But this incident, even if partially true, shows why so many people are turned off by the Greek system.

If you want to sit on your high horse and proclaim all of us non Greeks to be uninformed, fine. But knowing Greeks in undergrad and seeing how they can treat people, I am inclined to believe this story. And your attempt to defend your sisters is certainly your duty. But there is clearly some questionable goings on at Delta Zeta Depauw.

If your sorority was so well-intentioned, why the outrage by the sisters at DePauw? Why no response from your DZ administration? Your spin on this is noted and taken with a grain of salt. I will await more information on this so I can laugh and laugh and maintain that Greek life is very ridiculous!

I am also just appauled that everyone believes this CRAP!

Come on!!! If you worked somewhere and could not keep or recruit employees and had over half the number of employees as everyone else in your industry you would also have to go and REORGANIZE!

We are a social soroirty based on many things and IMAGE is not one of them! But we are poeple based organization and without people this chapter would have to close. Basically these women were not ugly, they were employees not dedicated to the organizations VISION AND MISSION and didnt want to recruit members to continue the organization!

It is as simple as that!

What I find to be particularly sad is that the media is sticking up for these "overweight, unattrative" girls. These women may have had poor self esteem as a result of their peers at Depauw university who consistently told them that they were not good enough. Now the media is happy to be reporting on their supposed downfalls as well. I saw these girls on CNN. There was nothing wrong with these women. Nationals may not have even realized they were selecting "unattractive girls". Nationals was selecting girls who were tired of being in a sorority that wasn't wanted on Depauw's campus. These girls have absolutely been the victims of discrimination, but not by DZ.

The comments to this entry are closed.