Wankers Of The Week

15 comments February 24th, 2007at 06:42pm Posted by Eli

Delta Zeta sorority, national organization. Official motto, “No fat chicks”:

When a psychology professor at DePauw University here surveyed students, they described one sorority as a group of “daddy’s little princesses” and another as “offbeat hippies.” The sisters of Delta Zeta were seen as “socially awkward.”

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 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.

“Virtually everyone who didn’t fit a certain sorority member archetype was told to leave,” said Kate Holloway, a senior who withdrew from the chapter during its reorganization.

“I sensed the disrespect with which this was to be carried out and got fed up,” Ms. Holloway added. “I didn’t have room in my life for these women to come in and tell my sisters of three years that they weren’t needed.”


The mass eviction battered the self-esteem of many of the former sorority members, and some withdrew from classes in depression. There have been student protests, outraged letters from alumni and parents, and a faculty petition calling the sorority’s action unethical.

DePauw’s president, Robert G. Bottoms, issued a two-page letter of reprimand to the sorority. In an interview in his office, Dr. Bottoms said he had been stunned by the sorority’s insensitivity.

“I had no hint they were going to disrupt the chapter with a membership reduction of this proportion in the middle of the year,” he said. “It’s been very upsetting.”


Despite [past] incidents [of racial discrimination], the chapter appears to have been home to a diverse community over the years, partly because it has attracted brainy women, including many science and math majors, as well as talented disabled women, without focusing as exclusively as some sororities on potential recruits’ sex appeal, former sorority members said.

“I had a sister I could go to a bar with if I had boy problems,” said Erin Swisshelm, a junior biochemistry major who withdrew from the sorority in October. “I had a sister I could talk about religion with. I had a sister I could be nerdy about science with. That’s why I liked Delta Zeta, because I had all these amazing women around me.”


In September, Ms. Menges and Kathi Heatherly, a national vice president of the sorority, visited the chapter to announce a reorganization plan they said would include an interview with each woman about her commitment. The women were urged to look their best for the interviews.

The tone left four women so unsettled that they withdrew from the chapter almost immediately.

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 meet-and-greet 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.”


Elizabeth Haneline, a senior computer science major who was among those evicted, returned to the house that afternoon and found some women in tears. Even the chapter’s president had been kicked out, Ms. Haneline said, while “other women who had done almost nothing for the chapter were asked to stay.”

Ms. Swisshelm said she overheard one woman seek to reassure a friend: “I think you’re plenty pretty, no matter what nationals say,” the woman said.

Six of the 12 women who were asked to stay left the sorority, including Joanna Kieschnick, a sophomore majoring in English literature. “They said, ‘You’re not good enough’ to so many people who have put their heart and soul into this chapter that I can’t stay,” she said.


“We were especially troubled that the women they expelled were less about image and more about academic achievement and social service,” [modern languages chair] Dr. [Robert] Hershberger said.


“The injustice of the lies,” [former chapter secretary Rachel Pappas] said, “is contemptible.”

Horrible, awful people. Not only did they hide two-thirds of the chapter upstairs like the fucking Elephant Man, but then they insulted their commitment as an excuse to kick them out. Props to the faculty who signed the petition, the chapter members who spoke out and quit in protest, and everyone else who screamed “This is wrong.”

So the DePauw chapter got a rep as a home for brainiacs who don’t fit in. Big deal. Why shouldn’t smart women have their own sorority? What’s wrong with a sorority that bases membership on something other than looks? It’s like Revenge Of The Nerds all over again…

Entry Filed under: Wankers


  • 1. Will  |  February 24th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    When I was in college at Appalachian State Univ in the early 80’s, there the DZ’s had a reputation of being pretty promiscuous, as admitted to me from a delta zeta transfer in from UNC.

    (for all that’s worth–just a sidebar note)

  • 2. oldwhitelady  |  February 24th, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    It’s too bad all 12 didn’t walk out.

  • 3. Eli  |  February 24th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    When I was in college at Appalachian State Univ in the early 80s, there the DZs had a reputation of being pretty promiscuous, as admitted to me from a delta zeta transfer in from UNC.

    I suspect the national organization would have no problem with that.

    Its too bad all 12 didnt walk out.

    I did kinda wonder what the 6 who stayed were thinking; although based on some of the comments by those who left, it sounds like maybe they didn’t really belong to begin with.

  • 4. bobby  |  February 24th, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    I mean really. What did they think was going to happen when you kick 3/4 girls out? Only 34 gilrs to start anyway dont sound like a big soriority to start with probalby no one but a few in greek community knew who they were to start with.
    But its all about money. It alwasys is, they were half full to start htat means not enough due paying to the national charter. Bunch of women from the 70’s that havent been on a campus since propably through a retro fit and casued this and proably still shaking their heads and wondering what they did wrong

  • 5. DZ  |  February 24th, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Sadly this isn’t the first time HQ has done something like this. They ransacked and destroyed my chapter last spring–technically we are still running, but it’s only a matter of time.

    They re-organized our EB and replaced committed, 100% active experienced sisters, with new girls who only had a semester or two under their belt–girls that are proving they can’t hold the chapter together.

    I couldn’t agree more with Bobby’s comment. These women from HQ who never had contact with us before, finally decide to show up, conduct 30 minute interviews with everyone and then two months later decide they know whats best for us and send an EMAIL of all things to let us know their plans.

    They broke so many hearts.

  • 6. Eli  |  February 24th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Sigh. I’m so sorry – they could have made themselves a kind of safe haven alternative, but I guess they decided that would hurt their “brand”.

  • 7. Interrobang  |  February 24th, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    That story is beyond bizarre. It was definitely a shitty thing to do, although to me it sounds like it started out entirely on the wrong foot. The commentary about the sorority at the beginning of the article sounds like what people might say about any sorority, really. (The most common criticism where I’m from is, “Why would I want to pay $800/year to have friends?” but I’m Canadian, and fraternities and sororities are a relatively small presence on Canadian university campuses to start with; even on the campus of the school where I did my undergraduate, which is a notorious “party” or “country club” school.)

    In other words, overreaction, much? :(

  • 8. Eli  |  February 24th, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Even if you grant the premise that they were oh-so-concerned about the numbers, “Let’s purge everyone who doesn’t look like a cheerleader in the most callous way possible” was, well, probably not the best way to go.

  • 9. Ol'Froth  |  February 25th, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Hmmmmm, at my college, the Zetas were the Jockette basketball lesbian sorority.

  • 10. Multi Medium » Un-W&hellip  |  March 12th, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    […] Hey, remember a coupla weeks ago when the Delta Zeta national office booted two-thirds of their DePauw chapter for not being pretty enough, but claimed it was because they were lazy, uncommitted slackers? Let’s see how that’s working out for them… DePauw University severed its ties today with a national sorority that attracted controversy when it evicted two-thirds of its DePauw members late last year. The sorority called the evictions an effort to improve its image for recruitment, but the evicted women described it as a purge of the unattractive or uncool. […]

  • 11. one of the 23  |  March 22nd, 2007 at 1:31 am

    there were 42 girls to begin with, not just 35. I considered all 41 to be my sisters. there were 3 girls who were off campus who NEVER GOT membership reviews. 4 left early. Some of us considered talking about asking everyone who was asked to stay to leave to show that Nationals couldnt F*** with our sisterhood. One thought that she honestly could stay to try to keep some of our memories alive while others i know wanted to give the house a makeover. As for the 6 women who left, they saw who was asked to leave, their friends. They did ‘belong’ with the other 6, as you may say, but they looked and saw the unethical practices and did not want to be puppets for Nationals. At one point, Nationals werent even going to let the chapter decide on issues that pertained to the campus, and not to Delta Zeta. I dont know if this is what happened, but regardless, it’s inexcusable because the consultants do NOT understand our campus. But anyways,also i find it very interesting that they keep messing with their website….

    And to DZ, atleast you got a 30 minute review, mine was only 15 minutes. They ranged from 10-60 minutes, with 1-4 people and Cindy Menges was not a part of most of them as the CNN interview alledged. Also atleast you got an email soon after. we waited till right before finals, with the letters coming a day late and saw all the girls who were asked to leave. Hopefully if they have a chance, they will learn from this and a.)be more tactful, b.) less shady c.) more organized and professional

  • 12. Eli  |  March 22nd, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for weighing in with the first-person inside scoop, One. The DZ mothership just sounds epically shitty. I’m sorry they screwed you over, and I was very happy to read that DePauw finally did the right thing and kicked them out.

  • 13. John M. Nardo M.D.  |  March 24th, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    The Greek system in colleges has always been this way, just not so loud. After college, I realized that it had been a detriment to my own development. I resigned, but it took years and some downright nasty letters to get them to take me off the roles and stop sending their little magazines. The harm extends outside the system to people who didn’t “get in.” The fraternity/sorority system doesn’t need to be reformed, it should be eliminated from college campuses altogether…

  • 14. Dubya Zeta at&hellip  |  March 25th, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    […] clipped from http://www.firedoglake.com Four months ago, the national office of the Delta Zeta sorority, concerned that their DePauw University chapter’s nerdy reputation was affecting recruitment, evicted all of that chapter’s members who were overweight, minority, or otherwise not in conformance with stereotypical sorority norms of attractiveness. Only 12 of the chapter’s 35 members remained, half of whom promptly resigned in protest. To add insult to injury, the national office justified its actions by claiming that the evicted women (who included the chapter president) were insufficiently committed to recruitment. Three months later, after protests, petitions, and phone calls by the former chapter members, faculty, parents, and alumni, and after the Delta Zeta website trashed the evicted members and the faculty petitioners, DePauw’s president kicked the sorority out. […]

  • 15. americawe  |  May 24th, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    scissors is still the dead I never visit a scientist. black musician, every We need

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