The Delta Zeta Chapter at DePauw University has stirred up national controversy with the eviction of several members earlier this year, all of whom were overweight or minorities.
In August 2006, the national representatives of Delta Zeta told the DePauw DZ chapter if they were unable to substantially increase their membership before DZ’s 100th anniversary in 2009, they would be forced to close the chapter at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year.
In an attempt to save the chapter, a team of national representatives came to the sorority house in November 2006 to interview every member individually, asking them a series of questions concerning their dedication to DZ, according to The New York Times.
A couple of weeks after the interviews, the team of national representatives came back to the house to hold a recruiting event for prospective members.
However the DZ members of DePauw were asked to remain upstairs in their rooms during the event. The team of national representatives brought in slender DZ’s from Indiana University to talk with the freshmen.
In early December 2006, 23 members of the sorority received letters from Delta Zeta’s national headquarters which read, “The membership review team has recommended you for alumna status. Chapter members receiving alumnae status should plan to relocate from the chapter house no later than Jan. 29, 2007.”
The 23 Delta Zeta members who were cast out included every overweight member as well as the only Vietnamese and Korean members.
The dozen girls allowed to stay in the sorority house were all described by ex-members as “slender and popular with the fraternity men,” according to The New York Times. Outraged with the unfair eviction of their former sisters, half the girls asked to stay left the sorority as a sign of solidarity.
“Virtually everyone who didn’t fit a certain sorority member archetype was told to leave,” said Kate Holloway, one of the sisters who withdrew from the chapter during its reform.
As a result of the massive eviction, many of the former DZ members suffered from self-esteem issues. Many of the girls withdrew from their classes, and some even suffered from depression.
Holloway described the experience in a New York Times article, saying, “they had these unassuming freshmen girls downstairs with these plastic women from Indiana University, and 25 of my sisters hiding upstairs. It was so fake, so completely dehumanized.”
After reports surfaced of the evictions, many furious students and parents accused the team of national representatives of selecting the girls who were perceived to be more attractive as active members of DZ.
In response to these allegations, the Executive Director of DZ, Cindy Minges, stated in a recent press release that, “despite media accounts to the contrary, Delta Zeta national leadership undertook the membership review and made decisions thereon based solely upon each woman’s commitment to Delta Zeta’s recruitment plans moving forward. No other factor was considered,” according to The NY Times.
President of DePauw University, Robert G. Bottoms, announced the expulsion of the Delta Zeta Chapter on Monday at a news conference.
He told reporters that, “We at DePauw do not like the way our students were treated. We believe that the values of our University and those of Delta Zeta sorority are incompatible.”
The same day Bottoms withdrew DZ’s status as a recognized campus organization. The sorority is required to leave at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year.
Minges responded to Bottoms’ actions in the press release, stating, “Delta Zeta national leadership is extremely disappointed that after 98 years, University officials have unilaterally closed the chapter and still refuse to meet with us.”
John Carroll University Assistant Director of Student Activities Rebecca Jamrozik refused to comment.