National controversy surrounds campus sorority finalist

The Panhellenic president said Monday the university was unaware of the controversy surrounding one of the three sorority finalists who could join the TCU Greek community and said the effect it will have on the voting process remains uncertain.The Delta chapter of Delta Zeta at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., has gained national attention due to recent questions raised about its restructuring by its national sorority. DZ nationals asked 23 of the Delta chapter’s 35 members to accept alumna status and vacate the sorority house.

The New York Times reported Feb. 25 that among the 23 women evicted were every overweight, black, Korean and Vietnamese member of the sorority.

“I think that if they are coming to campus, everything will be considered,” said Hannah Munsch, Panhellenic president. “I’m not sure how it will be considered and I don’t know if it will necessarily make or break the decision.”

Delta Zeta is one of eight sororities that applied for a spot in the TCU Greek community, and one of three selected as finalists chosen to compete. Along with DZ, Alpha Phi and Gamma Phi Beta have visited the campus and given informative presentations about their organizations.

Kate Holloway, a senior English writing major who withdrew from the DePauw chapter during reorganization, said she thinks DZ could serve TCU well.

“I think they fully believed they were doing the best thing for the sorority itself and for the Delta chapter,” Holloway said. “But I don’t think it worked out at all because they only got three pledges this year.”

A positive history and success at other universities were both elements reviewed by the Panhellenic extension committee in selecting the finalists for fall recruitment.

Delta Zeta presented Wednesday but did not inform the council about the budding controversy.

The sororities that comprise the Panhellenic council at TCU are voting on which sorority will be invited to campus Wednesday, and DZ may be selected to join formal recruitment in August.

A formal statement to DePauw issued Dec. 20 by DePauw President Robert Bottoms addressed the strong effect this has had on former and current DZ members, as well as the DePauw community.

“As we move forward, the staff is examining what happened at Delta Zeta, how the membership review has affected the sorority’s members and the campus at large, and advising me about potential responses,” Bottoms wrote.

Bottoms also issued a formal letter of reprimand to Delta Zeta’s national headquarters Feb. 19 outlining four major points of contention with the sorority.

The DePauw, the student newspaper at DePauw University, reported that the women received letters Dec. 2 informing them they were invited to stay in the sorority or instructing them to vacate the house by Jan. 29.

Delta Zeta responded to the article on its national Web site by stating: “Delta Zeta finds it offensive that recent reports have suggested that decisions made at DePauw University were related in any way to our members’ races and nationalities.”

Former members, though, feel that DZ has been less than honest about their motives for selecting the members who they chose to leave.

The DePauw reported that the women were being interviewed to judge their commitment to the sorority and recruitment for future years, but many members do not feel that was the case.

The article in the New York Times reported that some former members believed that women who did not fit a certain mold were asked to leave, but not all the former members feel that way.

Joanna Kieschnick, a DePauw sophomore English literature major who was asked to stay in the sorority but resigned, said there were many attractive girls who were asked to leave.

“There’s a lot of conjecture that I don’t know if I necessarily agree with,” Kieschnick said. “I think image perhaps was part of it but not the deciding factor. I’m fairly articulate, so my interview went really well, and I was a little more into partying than a lot of the other girls.”

The New York Times reported DePauw attracted national attention in 1982 when a black student was unable to join the chapter.

According to The Times, a letter was written to The DePauw that accused Delta Zeta’s national leadership of also unsuccessfully trying to block a mixed-race woman from joining in 1967.

Cynthia Winslow Menges, spokesperson for Delta Zeta, did not respond to multiple phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

James Parker, assistant dean of campus life, was not available for comment due to the presentation and tour of Gamma Phi Beta.

“I would like for them to still be considered,” Munsch said. “I would like whatever chapter TCU feels will be the most successful here will be welcomed with open arms.