on sororities

Coming out of high school into college, I was happy to hear the rumor that the reason we didn't have any sororities on campus (there was one fraternity) was that some old alum who'd been spurned by the sororoties had donated a large sum of cash with the provision that all future sororities be banned from campus. Who knows if it was true, but I liked the story.

Today's NYT has a different kind of sorority story: Sorority Evictions Raise Messy Issue of Looks and Bias. Or maybe it's not that different.

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 35 DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.

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.

For the record, my older sister was a sorority girl in college and had an extremely positive experience. Her sorority sisters are some of her closer friends to this day. I'm guessing they'd get along with the 12 brave souls in Indiana who passed the litmus test but quit in disgust. That's what real sisterhood is all about.


Garpu the Fork said...

Good for those 6 who quit. My undergrad school had local sororities and fraternities, but they were pretty benign. CalArts didn't (but we had an ultimate frisbee team). UW obviously does, and I've yet to see any benefit from them beyond a group of people to get drunk with. They certainly don't do very well in classes in my department.

Jason nSJ said...

At UC Santa Cruz, we had a couple of frats and sororities, but there was another group called SAGE--Students Against Greek Establishent, which supposedly had more members than the other combined.

xsquared said...

Holy Cross has no sororities - I believe that Jesuit schools don't allow them.

lma said...

I think it is interesting...in coverage of this that I've seen, the national officers seemed to be concerned that fat, unattractive women couldn't recruit well for the chapter (or at least that's their story and they're sticking to it). However, as the public face of my invitation-only honor society at community college (Phi Theta Kappa) when I was president of the chapter my last year there, we didn't seem to have any trouble drawing recruits despite the fact that I was overweight, not especially attractive in traditional terms, and quite a bit above the traditional college age besides. I ran all the recruitment meetings both semsters that year, and we inducted equal if not higher numbers joining us that year compared to previous years.

Yes, I recognize the difference between traditional Greek-letter societies and honor societies, and I recognize the difference between community college and a four-year school with mostly traditional-age students. I also recognize the difference between a sorority and an organization that opens membership to females and males. Still, I think the officers of that sorority are way too fixated on appearance.