After creating a scandal that garnered national media attention, Delta Zeta and DePauw University have settled the litigation between them, deciding that Delta Zeta national sorority will have the opportunity to seek a return to campus beginning in the academic year 2010-11.
Delta Zeta, whose national headquarters are located in Oxford, was kicked off of DePauw’s campus when their national headquarters asked 23 members of the chapter to declare alumnae status early, allegedly based on the girls’ appearances.
Susan Vaughn, director of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution and adviser to Delta Zeta at Miami University, said that even though the alpha chapter of Delta Zeta is at Miami and national headquarters are located here as well, the incident at DePauw will have no effect on Miami’s chapter of Delta Zeta.
Vaughn added that the only impact it could have on Miami’s chapter would be if the sorority enacted something nationally.
“It could be that national policies could change,” Vaughn said. “Maybe they’d change policies regarding recruitment and membership.”
Ken Owen, executive director of media relations at DePauw, said that he could not comment on the incident or punishment as a result of the settlement between Delta Zeta and DePauw University. The two sides settled out of court, deciding that Delta Zeta would not have the opportunity to return to campus until at least 2010.
“DePauw values its relationship with its alumnae who are members of Delta Zeta and recognizes that like DePauw, Delta Zeta has an objective to develop college students,” reads a statement on the university’s Web site.
Vaughn said that it is hard to say what reaction Miami’s chapter of Delta Zeta had to the Delta Zeta’s punishment because the chapter at DePauw is so different from Miami’s chapter.
“It’s really hard for our women to relate to it because we don’t have a house,” Vaughn said. “… I think that since they choose who they’re going to live with this is really hard to comprehend.”
Vaughn added that each individual would have a different reaction to the sanction.
“I think some students would say that it’s always wrong to suspend,” she said. “I think other students would say they should have been kicked out and never allowed to come back if they did this.”
Junior Catie Woodruff, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said that she thinks Delta Zeta’s punishment is fair.
“By the time that they’re allowed back on campus it will basically be a whole new group of girls running the sorority,” Woodruff said.
Sophomore Kim Cieslewicz, a member of Gamma Phi Beta, said that assuming the allegations are true, the punishment is definitely fair.
“If that’s what’s necessary to get it started again and be a better chapter then I’d say it’s fair,” Cieslewicz said.
Vaughn said that since Miami’s chapter of Delta Zeta is the alpha chapter, it has met quota every year for the past 42 years so they get the “crÃ¨me of the crop.”
“I think, personally, that when you have organizations that have the ability to be selective there probably are things like this that go on because I think on each of our organizations, whether they be Greek or other types of organizations, take on a personality and so there are certain types of people,” Vaughn said. “I don’t think they discriminate, but I think (they are) just being selective.”
Vaughn said that to prevent an incident like this everyone needs to be aware of what it means to respect other people and cultural differences.
Cieslewicz said she doesn’t think something like this could happen at Miami because Panhellenic Association is competent at keeping everyone regulated and fair.
Woodruff said it is possible, but she hopes it would never happen.
“I feel like there’s people everywhere that judge people on certain things and it could really happen at any school,” Woodruff said.
Vaughn said that the difference between the incident at DePauw and what happened at Miami with Delta Chi’s recruitment T-shirts is different because the T-shirt is a matter of interpretation and what happened at DePauw was much more blatant.
Miami’s chapter of Delta Chi put out recruitment T-shirts that read “No one over 150 after 1:50,” which offended some women on campus, both Greek and not Greek.
“When you’re in a sorority … the other people in your sorority are supposed to be your sisters and are supposed to be people you care about and to tell someone that they have to take alumnae status because of their looks is worse (than Delta Chi’s T-shirt) because (the T-shirt) was more general and wasn’t really directed at a certain person,” Woodruff said.