No More Delta Zeta at DePauw: University Severs Ties to National Organization

By Christine Cupaiuolo — March 12, 2007

Some good news concerning the national sorority that last month ousted almost 23 members at DePauw University based on their appearance and popularity.

DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms made it known today that the university is severing ties with Delta Zeta sorority. The decision was announced in a letter delivered this morning to the sorority’s national president, Deborah A. Raziano, in which Bottom noted, “[We] at DePauw believe that the values of our University and those of the national Delta Zeta Sorority are incompatible.”

As you might recall, university officials had been engaged in a public dialogue with Delta Zeta’s national office about its treatment of the students since December. In a statement released Feb. 28 (scroll down), the university addressed why it did not immediately revoke Delta Zeta’s charter:

Initially we hoped that we could reach an acceptable resolution for our students by communicating on their behalf with Delta Zeta national officers. When that did not occur, a formal letter of reprimand was sent by President Bottoms to the national office outlining our dissatisfaction with Delta Zeta’s treatment of our students. As this issue has continued to unfold, we have tried to be sensitive to the remaining student members of Delta Zeta who continue to live in the chapter house and to the DePauw Delta Zeta alumnae who played no role in their national office’s decisions.

Though admittedly we were skeptical this relationship could (or should) be salvaged, it looks like the final straw was the decision by the national Delta Zeta office to publicly criticize the students it ousted on its website, along with their campus supporters. I can’t get on to the Delta Zeta site (update: it’s reportedly “undergoing maintenance”). But according to The New York Times today, Delta Zeta published the following:

“Delta Zeta National apologizes to any of our women at DePauw who felt personally hurt by our actions,” the sorority said in a message posted earlier this month on its Web site. “It was never our intention to disparage or hurt any of our members during this chapter reorganization process.”

That apology, however, did not bring reconciliation at DePauw.

“It’s like a thief who’s sorry that he got caught, rather than for what he did,” said Rachel Pappas, a junior who left the sorority before the evictions and organized a campus event about it last month.

In addition to the apology, the sorority also posted on its Web site statements critical of the women who were forced out of the DePauw chapter, and of faculty members who supported them.

Bottoms also alluded to the website in his letter — along with Delta Zeta’s decision, as of March 1, to stop communicating with the news media:

Now, three weeks after my initial letter to you, my dissatisfaction with your organization continues to grow. I am proud of our DePauw students and the way they reacted to an unwarranted situation. Our students have shown a maturity beyond what one might expect of undergraduates. Yet postings on your Web site attempt to discredit any DePauw student critical of your actions. Your Web site has also been critical of our faculty for their willingness to openly discuss the way the membership review took place within the Delta Zeta chapter.

In summary, we at DePauw do not like the way our students were treated. We also disagree with your portrayal of the University in the media. We are opposed to your media freeze. One of the foundations of a university is free and open communication, which has been a hallmark of how we at DePauw have responded to this situation. We also vehemently contest the assertion on your Web site that “at all points in this process we (Delta Zeta) have worked with the University, sought their advice and acted upon their advice in our reorganization efforts.”

Sheesh. Delta Zeta’s actions just might inspire one of the other 165 campuses with Delta Zeta chapters to re-think whether this is a sorority with supporting. With sisters like that, who needs enemies?

Plus: Check out the published letters of support for DePauw from Delta Zeta alumnae.

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