A Media-created crisis? The Delta Zeta Sorority Problem

February 28, 2007

A crisisblogger commenter requested my take on the Delta Zeta sorority crisis, and as I have had my head down in two solid days of meetings, I have to admit to only hearing a passing reference to some sorority problem in conversation. And that comment was, interestingly, that they kicked out everyone who wasn’t pretty.

So, I thought I would look at what this is all about. I found the New York Times story which ran on February 25. Then I looked up what Delta Zeta might have to say about this. What I found, from this quick little review, is a crisis vulnerability that faces far more organizations than most realize. At this point, I would put this one in the category of a media-created crisis and not a crisis created by egregious action on the part of the organization.

What the Times said happened: Some psych prof at DePauw did a survey and found the perceptions students had of the Delta Zeta sorority were “socially awkward.” The sorority, concerned about its image, responded by dumping all the less than attractive and popular women, all the overweight girls, and picking particularly on all the members of non-white races and colors.

Wow. Pretty damning. That is one bad bunch of ladies. They could only find a dozen that fit the profile of members they wanted, however half of them were so upset by the profiling and evictions that they quit. The president of DePauw was so upset at them that he wrote a long letter of reprimand. Then the newspaper story goes on to list the long history of other racial offenses this DePauw university chapter has had over the year.

Is this the truth?

Let’s hear what Debbie Raziano, the National President of Delta Zeta has to say:

– because of recruitment problems the organization voted to close the DePauw chapter last year to relieve the few women there from the duty of active recruitment

– The university denied the request saying that if they left now they couldn’t come back. The university asked the chapter to do a “membership review.”

– Based on this request the chapter asked who would be willing to aggressively recruit new members. The women who were “evicted” decided they did not want and therefore were given a certain period of time to leave.

– that was the sole basis for determining who would go or who would stay

If you look closely at the NYT story, you see that explanation barely covered in there. But it is completely lost in the spin of the story. Now, I am going to take what the sorority president says at face value here, partly because it makes sense and partly because the media’s behavior here falls so typically into the way the entertainment-based “news” media operates that this is too good to pass up.

The story the reporter had in mind was clearly made before he did any interviews. He was careful not to let the facts of the story interfere with the story he had already created in mind. Yes, he offered their explanation. But only after he says the officers “declined to be interviewed” but then provides emailed answers to questions (apparently to this reporter, only talking to him on the phone counts as an interview. Warning to communicators–beware the reporter who does not treat your email communication as legitimate response because you have a high degree of likelihood that they do not want a written record of what you provided. Gives you basis for complaint about being misquoted.)

In short, this looks to me to be an all too typical hack job. From the NYT no less–but after watching the three part series “News War” on PBS, my trust suspicions and mistrust about the news media has been amplified.

If what Delta Zeta says is right, there is a real problem with the president of DePauw. He might have had the opportunity as an objective third party to stop this train wreck from happening. If they are right in saying it was his actions that prompted their membership review and he put the pressure on recruitment, then for him to stand on the side and say oh my god look at those bad ladies is political but not honorable. I’d love to see his explanation.
I may not have this right at all. In my take on this, the NYT put the black hat squarely on the sorority and got complicity from the university president. If they are right, they not only don’t deserve this but the black hat should be squarely placed on the NYT. As for their crisis management of this–not good. If my understanding and interpretation is right, a lot stronger sense of righteous indignation against the paper and the university would be necessary for people to understand that this is one more example of name calling in order to grab headllines. What they did right, however, was put their statements–very poorly written and constructed–on their website and made them accessible to people like me sitting on the sidelines and making probably incorrect judgments about it all.

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50 Responses to “A Media-created crisis? The Delta Zeta Sorority Problem”

  1. Julie Artz Says:

    Thank you for pointing out what has been so painfully obvious to Delta Zeta alums since this crisis began: The media and President Bottoms share much of the blame for what happened to the women of Delta Chapter.

    I doubt many DePauw alums would deny the statement that Bob Bottoms would prefer to see the Greek system at DePauw be disbanded. He has systematically dismantled several houses in the twelve years that I have been associated with the University, despite alums testifying again and again not only that they want the system to remain, but that their continued financial support depends on it!

    The best anyone can do now is stop the media feeding frenzy surrounding these women and let them get on with their lives and their educations. Thank you for providing one of the few balanced assessments I’ve seen of this sad situation.

    Regards,
    Julie Altman Artz
    Class of 1997
    DePauw University

  2. Amy O'Donnell Says:

    As a Delta chapter alumna and a former television news producer, I’m simply sickened at the way this story has evolved into a ‘sorority scandal’. ‘Were girls asked to leave because of weight and race?’ That’s the question Good Morning America asked…it’s a headline I’m quite confident was designed solely to garner ratings points and not at all to objectively investigate the real issue at hand. Anytime there’s a potential discrimination case (think Wal-Mart), it’s a story, but now that there are college girls are involved (and we all know what a driving force image is in our society these days), it’s a ‘sexy’ one…and the proof’s in the byline stating the women were ‘kicked out, some say because they weren’t popular with men’. This is not a mystery for the media to decipher…just a poor excuse of a strategy to keep the Anna Nicole/Britney/sensationalism-hungry audience to keep watching.
    I echo my DZ sister Julie’s sentiment about letting the girls get on with their lives. They’re at DePauw for an education and an experience, not to get hounded by the press and their peers when it’s other parties that need to stand up and take accountability for their actions.

    Sincerely,
    Amy O’Donnell
    Class of 1997
    DePauw University

  3. Sarah Wurrey Says:

    Excellent post, Gerald. I probably would have accepted the NY Times piece at face value if I hadn’t read your insights…One interesting point, I read the DZ response on their site before finishing your post, and I had a hard time focusing on the merits of their arguments due to the poor writing. Just more proof how fundamental quality writing is to public relations effectiveness, particularly during a crisis. Bravo on this post!

  4. Ashley Ziya Says:

    Thank you. Thank you for stepping outside the box and understanding that you can’t believe everything that you read or hear.

    I am past Chapter President of the Gamma Pi Chapter of Delta Zeta at Western Michigan University, and current Panhellenic President at Western Michigan University. People have said to me in the past few days, “Ashley, we know you wouldn’t do that but what about that national organization?”

    My response to this burning question on everyones mind is simply this, if I would not do this, I would never be a part of an organization that does this. I believe in Delta Zeta, my fellow sisters, Greeks across the country, and those six women continuing to be active members at Depauw University.

    Ashley Ziya
    Gamma Pi Chapter
    Delta Zeta

  5. Mekea Says:

    While I do not deny that much of this situation is due to the media, I do have to question why 6 of the women who were asked to stay voluntarily gave up their chapter association if this is entirely a media created farse. And why would members that have been “evicted” still be concerned with supporting an organization who choose not to support them? Also if my understanding of Greek Life is correct, Since when can a University stop an organization from shutting down a chapter-is that not a decision supposedly agreed upon by the chapter/national governing body? A university can deny a guarantee of re-colonization/re-admittance, but they cannot tell ABC sorority they cannot close it’s doors.

  6. Jessica Blevins Says:

    Finally! Someone is listening and a response makes sense!

    I, like Amy O’Donnell above, am a TV news producer and I can’t believe these publications and stations bought into this sensationalism brought by these young girls.

    I am a Delta Chapter of Delta Zeta initiate of DePauw University. I graduated from DePauw in 2003.

    The women who are claiming they were discriminated against voted to CLOSE the chapter! They did not want to have anything to do with the reorganization.

    I support Delta Zeta National Sorority and their efforts to help Delta Chapter at DePauw and the rest of the sorority across the country.

    I have faith my chapter will remain open and reorganize at DePauw in light of what these girls…and I do stress the word girls here…said and did.

    Delta Chapter turns 100 in 2009! What an amazing feat that will be and I will return to campus to see it.

    Jessica Blevins
    DePauw University ’03
    Delta Chapter of Delta Zeta ’00

  7. Anti-Greek Says:

    You’ve got to be kidding-The Media didn’t invent this story. The National office thought that one of thier franchisees needed a make over -just like it was a run down Burger King needing a facelift-only here they were dealing with people’s lives and feelings. The relevent facts are simple and undisputed:

    1. The National office wanted more members
    2. It staged a recruitment meeting in which it brought in prettier girls from The Ohio State University chapter and quarantined the e soon to be booted out sisters.
    3. They 23 kicked out consisted of all the heaver and minority students. (Don’t give me this bullshit about “alumnae status” they were kicked out)

    The National office doesn’t deny any of these facts-It and its its fellow travelers instead blame the media-in a stunt reminicent of Joe McCarthy’s appearance on Edward R. Murrows show where Tail Gunner Joe couldn’t contradict anything Murrow had said about McCarhty but instead called Murrow a commie.

    I don’t think we need any government intervention-but I do think we need the media to let students and their parents who are thinking of joining this entity (which has previously done the same thing at University of Kentucky) is an organization that stereotypes ITSELF as a group of thin hot young women who are sexually attractive to fraternity boys.

    And I don’t want to hear anything to the effect of a “few rotten apples”-because I’ve seen no action from any Delta Zetas to rid themselves of their leaders-thus they must agree with this action.

  8. Anti-Greek Says:

    And Delta Zeta’s criss managers gave them horrendous advice or they ignored the advice which was given. Can any of you experts disagree with this advice:

    1. Find out who instigated the “weight” and “ethnic” cleansing and fire them immediately
    2. Have the entire leadership (lay and professional) tender their resignations
    3. Have new leadership announce that the National office made a huge mistake.
    4. Offer to let any of the 23 either reside int he house or alternatively pay for their alternative living (not the measly $300).
    5. Close the chapter
    6. Retain somekind of professional training to ensure that the lofty goals in the Delta Zetta Motto (which make me want to heave) are fufiled.

    OK experts what do you say?

  9. Wahine Says:

    Wow, what an interesting group of responses, I’m really glad you answered my question!

    I like the additional perspective on the NYT reporter’s methods, but I don’t think the story per se was created by the media. However, I am still interested in how all sororities and fraternities will need to manage this crisis.

    I’ve now read quite a few viewpoints and statements, including that there were existing issues with this sorority and recruitment going back at least ten years. However, no one has answered why, if recruitment was the main reason the 23 were dismissed (rather than looks), why most of the remaining women were seniors (4 of the 6 remaining in the house), who would not be able to lead the following year.

    Nor has anyone defended the choice of the national chapter to run a recruitment event and ask the majority of women to stay upstairs in their rooms, while they imported DZs from other campuses. Nor has anyone responded to the comments that were apparently made, specifically regarding appearance (eg that they should seek to attract male attention, questions regarding the sorority “reputation” and “brand”, etc). Additionally, the timing and wording of the letters sent to the young women does not speak well of the national organization. I think Anti-Greek is correct about some methods that would enable DZ to regain its face.

    As far as the students’ vote on the closing of the chapter — and this should be important to the alumnae who posted earlier — a young woman who elected to stay posted this on another DZ alumnae blog, http://smile216.livejournal.com/70347.html :

    “1. The vote in August that you refer to…Nationals forced our chapter to take that vote. Our options were to A. Close at the end of the year. B. Do recruitment, get over 25 women and remain open or C. Do recruitment, get fewer that 25 women and close. Since we have initiated no more than 20 women in the last few years we decided to spend the year focusing on sisterhood rather than working hard all semester and most likely being closed.

    2. Nationals did not reject our initial vote. Instead, they took our vote to DePauw, who rejected it saying that they would not save DZ’s place to return in the future.

    3. Nationals did not give the goal of increasing membership to 95 until after our letters were delivered. Besides that number, no other goals or plans for the chapter have been provided by nationals….”

    In other words, you should not be blaming the women for planning to close the chapter that year, but wondering why the university and the national chapter couldn’t come up with something mutually advantageous for the chapter, DZ national, and the university.

    Keep in mind that that blog owner also believes that the NYT was in the wrong, and that the national organization’s side has not been heard. I think it has been heard, loud and clear.

    As far as criticism of the university’s attitude towards Greek life … as a faculty brat who went on to work in higher ed for several years, much of the tension between university administrations and Greek organizations is based on issues of hazing, drinking and negative relationships with the greater community. Keep in many of the staff working in school Student Affairs departments, (who then go on to become college presidents and deans) cut their teeth in Residence Life, Housing and other areas where the issues of one rogue group can affect the general university community. That same staff member probably did not live in a sorority or fraternity, but in a dorm as a working residence assistant. They may have an exagerrated sense of the difference between “Greek” and “independent” life.

    And while most sororities and fraternities are positive units, let’s not forget that some of them are not run effectively, and do cause chaos. DePauw is, I’m told, a campus in which a majority (60-70%) of students do participate in the Greek system. That may be very hard to accept for administration members who see the pitfalls, who never lived in a Greek house themselves, and who further got most of their professional training in the average college/university system which is say, 70% independent. On the other hand, the behavior of the national organization seems so unprofessional in their communication, that I wonder about their previous experience before taking on national posts.

  10. Katie Says:

    As a student of DePauw I agree with this careful questioning. Women of Delta Zeta at all chapters across the nation should be outraged that their nationals could make such callous decisions. On campus–we didn’t have our campus newspaper reporting on the situation since it happened near Winter Break and during our January Term when newspaper isn’t running, so we in essence heard rumors but couldn’t confirm what was going on for a long time after it happened. This media crisis is blown out of proportion in a sense that the news is focusing on race/weight. Its all the girls we are worried about and yes, most believe you could pick out the girls that stayed by looking at a composite. You should worry about them, too. To most if not all of us here at DePauw, Nationals is in the wrong, incredibly, dispicably wrong.

    Katie Doogan
    DePauw University ’08

  11. Katie Says:

    s a student of DePauw I agree with this careful questioning. Women of Delta Zeta at all chapters across the nation should be outraged that their nationals could make such callous decisions. On campus–we didn’t have our campus newspaper reporting on the situation since it happened near Winter Break and during our January Term when newspaper isn’t running, so we in essence heard rumors but couldn’t confirm what was going on for a long time after it happened. This media crisis is blown out of proportion in a sense that the news is focusing on race/weight. Its all the girls we are worried about and yes, most believe you could pick out the girls that stayed by looking at a composite. You should worry about them, too. To most if not all of us here at DePauw, Nationals is in the wrong, incredibly, dispicably wrong.

    Katie Doogan
    DePauw University ’08

  12. Sandi Says:

    Very, very interesting. I am a DZ, Alpha Tau 1975 (Austin Texas), a house also closed. Going through a house closing is hard and pulls your heartstrings. Of course National or the University are the “bad guys”– You work very hard, you recruite, you do put your “best foot forward” –the friendly, the cute, the crowd pleasures, but sometimes the numbers and the bills simply do not meet.

    I remember the 25 number. We did try, and we fail. I feel for my Delta sisters and it brings a tear to my eye. I wish I had great words of wisdom and hope, only–keep the faith, and hang on to one another, even though we closed a house, many, many of use are still friends, and I can assure you, I can still recall those days as if they were yesterday.

    Finally a word to the “anti-greeks”. Simply, I am sorry. I am sorry that you are opposed to sisterhood and simple friendship. That is really what sororities are for. A “home” for the girls that are very far away. My daughter, 5000 miles from her home, found a different home in sorority life. Will she need this for four years? Only time will tell.

  13. Anti-Greek Says:

    Sandi-

    I’m not a opposed to sisterhood and simple friendship-what I am opposed to is the kind of exclusionary self congratualory organizations that sorieties stand for as evdience by the ethnic and minority cleansing of undesirables by the National.

    The National office has not denied the simple facts that the heaviest and only three minority sisters were cleansed-Take a look at the DZ Motto (or whatever it is) let’s hear you defend these actions?

    As DZ member have you called for the resignation of the National leaders who took this action-I guess not because I’ve heard of no DZ member or alum doing so therefor this is obviously the kind of action which represents the true character of DZ.

    If you care to respond I’d appreciate you defending your position rather than attacking me (although if you want to do both I don’t care since I don’t intend to pledge)

  14. Cathy Sepko Says:

    I have written to the National Organization expressing my concerns about how this decision was made and carried out, especially since my own chapter Iota Pi was also closed this spring due to low enrollment. At one time, it was the largest soriority on campus, but times have changed. And apparently, so has my national organization. I understand that the media may have misrepresented parts of the story; however, the truth remains that various ones of the sisters at DePauw have been hurt by this decision.

  15. Larry Says:

    Hmm–so let’s see, you take with DZ’s president says at face value because it makes sense; that is to say, you agree with her. And you reject the Times story because you disagree with it. I guess that’s objectivity in your eyes.

    What about what the girls directly involved say? What about the six who left on their own? What about the fact (which is not denied by DZ’s president) that all the girls asked to leave were not up to the sorority’s appearance standards? What about the fact (not denied by anyone) that they were too “brainy”?

    This is an exclusionary system that presents itself in other terms showing it’s real face, and then trying to deny it. The media has nothing to do with that.

  16. GB Says:

    While I admit that on first look at the story I looked at what the leaders said and what the Times said, and based on my clearly stated bias about the media tends to treat stories like this, I made my judgment. However, if you look through the comments about this situation on this blog, you will see comments from girls on both sides. They tend to support my initial position (perhaps with some slight moderation) and so I essentially stand by my first take on it: it was a story where the reporter clearly had the real facts, but chose to “spin” in a way that was much more likely to attract readers than if he written it as it actually happened.

    But–I’m very glad to see someone standing up for the media coverage on this. I was losing confidence that someone would do that. Thanks for writing.

  17. kyle Says:

    You have to be kidding me GB. Started to lose faith. It is pretty evident of the “spin” you are putting on this story. Each side has it’s own spin. Unfortunately for you, your “spin” is a little less believable and at this point, much less credible. Looks like it’s time for someone to start stepping down so that the organization can make strides to be a diverse, valuable resource for young women, instead of a bias filled, discriminatory vehicle that only promotes inequality.

    Any talking about poorly written, lets talk about Robert Till. Whoever this guy is, he surely should not have been put in charge of this letter:

    http://www.deltazeta.org/pages_blocks_v4/index.cgi?Key=773&Field=key_field&catg=dz_happenings&Exact=Yes&this_sect=DZ%20Happenings&thisroot=/pages

    I can only hope this individual is not officially represented by Delta Zeta. His response is however included on your one-sided list of articles located here:

    http://www.deltazeta.org/

    …right at the top. Talk about being fair and balanced…how about Delta Zeta start.

  18. C.Rojek Says:

    As in most situations like this, the truth is probably somewhere between what each side has said. My take, though, is that the DePauw administration is a bit closer to the facts.

    As noted by others above, the active members of the DePauw chapter of Delta Zeta didn’t just wake up one morning in August and vote to close, they were instructed to vote by the Delta Zeta national organization, from a limited number of choices provided by the national organization. Reading the postings on the national organization’s website, I wouldn’t have realized this.

    As noted by others above, DePauw did not deny the closure of the chapter (come off it, that doesn’t even sound legal), they denied the National’s request to be assured the opportunity to reopen at a specific point in time (2009, which would have been the centennial year of the chapter). Reading the postings on the national organization’s website, I wouldn’t have realized this.

    As noted by others above, had the removal from active status truly been only about commitment to recruiting, why would anyone have been surprised by the change in status, and why would anyone have felt the need to resign in protest? Reading the postings on the national organization’s website, I wouldn’t have realized this.

    Finally, I believe that the way that the Delta Zeta organization acted also calls their integrity into question. Form letters to the 23 being removed, a week before finals, with no live presence from the national organization, nobody specified to answer questions, no appeal process, leaving them about four weeks to arrange for alternate housing before the next term (at least for those that would be on campus for DePauw’s “Winter Term” in January). Perhaps their intentions were sound, but their execution was insensitive at best. If you read the open letters sent by the DePauw administration to the Delta Zeta national organization, you will find that most of their reprimands relate to these actions. I do not recall that they ever directly accused the national organization of kicking out the less attractive members; the closest they came was saying that the national organization sent “mixed messages” to the DePauw chapter.

    I do not believe that DePauw should escape criticism in this matter. It seems to me that their handling of the situation, at minimum, helped create a sense of urgency in the national organization, perhaps even a sense of hostility to Greek organizations in general, that encouraged the national organization to act hastily. Overall, though, it seems to me that the Delta Zeta national organization bears most of the responsibility for the bad press that they have received. The media may have exacerbated this situation into a crisis, but they did not create it.

    Disclosure: I have no firsthand experiences with fraternities and sororities; I graduated from a college that had nearly no active Greek organizations while I was on campus. Neither am I am directly affiliated with DePauw. My interest in this situation stems, as the saying goes, from the fact that my daughter and my money go to DePauw. I am not sure how things might have worked in the past, but currently, Greek organizations may not rush before February, so my daughter, a freshman, was not directly affected by this mess. Much of my view of these events came through her eyes.

  19. Brittany Says:

    It saddens me as I read some of the posts made here. You do not go to DePauw and most of you know nothing about the university.. so let me tell you a little something! I am a student here who is affiliated with a greek house. .. I’m not going to say which one because these are my views, no my house’s

    It pisses me off to read things disrespecting our president Dr. Bottoms. He is NOT trying to get rid of the greek system, but he is interested the well being of his students. As a greek affiliated student, I have been impressed with every action that Dr. Bottoms has done regarding this situation.

    You must understand that DePauw’s campus is not your typical campus! We are VERY greek.. 75% to be exact. Greek stereotypes sadly are very hard to change because we are so greek.

    I think it needs to be noted that DePauw did not tell DZ nationals that they could not close, they just would not promise them a spot back on the campus in 2009. The problem is that houses do not re-open at DePauw. .. they don’t survive. .. DZ had been shut down before.. and rechartered and re-opened.. their membership was lacking for quite some time. It was not the girls fault that they were having a hard time with recruitment.. DePauw’s recruitment is COMPETITIVE!! you have to realize that it is not like recruitment at a school that is only 20-30% greek (which most schools are). DePauw is the home of 2 alpha chapters and LOTS of greek roots! Every house spends the whole 1st semester of the school year promoting their house on campus to help them have a competitive edge during rush.. Delta Zeta members did this too!! It makes me mad that someone said that DZ members talk bad about the house to sabotage rush, because this 2 is false! I really think that DZ girls did all they could do!!

    Bottom line, what DZ nationals did was wrong! Totally wrong! I support Dr. Bottoms decision to force the house off this campus.. I think it was noble of him to wait and try to do all that he could do support the 6 remaining members, but the whole situation was out of control. DZ reorganizing and having 95 members by 2009 was NEVER going to happen, not at DePauw.. you just don’t understand our greek system.. it wouldn’t have been possible.

    DZ nationals said they looked for commitment .. then why was the president asked (forced) to take alumna status. I know DZ girls that were committed to the house and to recruitment that were also asked to change their status. I did and still do believe that DZ nationals looked for the prettiest girls who could make their house look the best for recruitment purposes. I am discussed with the national organization and have lost all respect for it.

    This is what makes the greek system look bad. DePauw’s greek system is different… it is not the typical greek system.. we have all different types of houses here that range in all types of girls. We don’t haze, we arn’t your “typical sorority girls” but DZ’s nationals took that reputation away from this campus..

  20. Disputo Says:

    Some crisis manager Gerald Baron is: he immediately rejects the the position taken by 29 of the 35 Depauw DZs, the faculty, and the school because of media bias, and yet accepts as “mak[ing] sense” the DZ National argument that they got rid of 23 members because they wanted to increase recruitment.

    LMAO. Sorry, but that, ahem, *analysis* doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

    What makes most sense here is that Mr. Baron is trolling for a new client. Which isn’t that bad idea, because the National org certainly has blown it so far, and could obviously use some advise.

  21. MrNonBiased Says:

    What a textbook situation for rational decision-making leading to an emotionally unacceptable result! As usual, there are more than 3 sides to this story: those of the members, national office, the university, the NYTimes, and everyone else (and I’m sure I could pull a few other subcomponents out if I really tried). Based on 45 min of blog and news scanning, here is what I can tease out of the story.

    1. The NYT author is a typical sensationalist who slanted the article for maximum outrage and effect, not for unbiased empirical value. However, like all news articles, at least the hint of truth is in there.

    2. According to Brittany’s letter above (which is a little rambly, but contains a number of lucid points scarcely covered elsewhere). If the campus has 71% participation as reported on the official DPU website (see http://www.depauw.edu/student/greek/FAQ.asp), and the current members of the chapter were considered to be ‘socially awkward’, according to some survey of the local student body, where were the new recruits coming from? Perceptions being what they were, there is little chance of getting the new recruits in the numbers that were put before them.

    3. The results of the survey were communicated to national office, who reasonably concluded that they needed to step in. Presumably, (like most other non-profits) there are elements of economics involved in this decision since national needs to pay the rent. The fixed costs of running the house dictate that a certain mininum number of residents need to live there in order for it to be fiscally responsible.

    4. National office reviews the situation and the members of the chapter were apparently given an ultimatum of recruiting 25(?) new members or having the chapter close. Again, rational decision.

    5. Based on the recent recruiting trends, the ladies concluded that this was an unreasonable request and voted to close the chapter. Otherwise, they would have to spend hours and days recruiting members but with little chance of reaching the magic number and closing the chapter anyway. Rational, yet again.

    6. National tries to negotiate a plan with the university to essentially put the chapter on hold until they can right the ship. The university stands on a policy that does not offer this as a possiblity. In other words, the chapter cannot be guaranteed a return in a few years. How the few years would have made a difference escapes me unless the national office felt they could wait until the current batch of girls left and replaced it with a new crop of ‘less awkward’ girls, which is possible and maybe even rational, albeit difficult to swallow.

    7. Rebuffed in their efforts to reboot the chapter slowly, the national office decides to kill the current chapter now and try to attract more members now from the less awkward population of the university. Ostensibly, they separated the wheat from the chaff by interviewing the current members to see who is less awkward. Unfortunately, many of the more awkward of the members (in the national office’s eyes) happen to be overweight or minority and they are recommended for alumna status (i.e. kicked out). Is this irrational? Racist? To some degree, yes…and no. Look up research on a term ‘relational demography’ sometime. I’ll give you the short summary: relationships are stronger between people who are of similar age, gender, race, appearance, etc. Thus, this is human nature more than a conscious attack. I know, I know…we should be able to get beyond that (and I’m African American, so I certainly hope we do), but reality says that we are not completely there yet.

    8. Here is the biggest problem with the whole plan: they kicked the girls out – supposedly because they were not willing to help with the recruiting efforts. To have taken over the recruiting efforts, chipped in with an extraordinary level of support (including sponsoring visits by girls from nearby chapters – as they later did) would have been a great move. Helping the young ladies plan and execute more parties (social acceptance) and attract more students in an aggressive campaign to change the opinions of the other students would have been another option (albeit a more expensive one – but how much has this media campaign cost them?). But to have dislodged the girls from the house in such an unpalatable manner led to the huge firestorm that has since erupted. If they had done everything else, but left the girls in place, ore even allowed the chapter to close quietly, perhaps this would have never reached our eyes. However, they are being typecast as Barbie-bigots by this one move alone (which is counter-productive in my opinion…why remove members when you are not getting closer to your goal?)

    9. NYTimes gets involved; writer hacks up a biased report; girls (understandably) are pissed so he gets good ‘quotes’; tensions run high; university has to do something to defend the girls, so they kick the chapter off…which may have happened anyway.

    Bottom line: The university overreacted to the media hype, but they are hardly to blame. The chapter members probably underestimated the national office’s resolve and never thought they could be kicked out – otherwise I think they would never have voted to close the chapter. I don’t know, but I bet someone in that meeting thought there was no way natls would close the 4th oldest chapter. Ultimately, the 29 young ladies (especially the 23 voted out) made a logical decision but failed to see how their decision would come back to bite them. National office made a number of stupid moves that leave them easy to pick on. Yes, they care about the appearance and perceptions of the members – business decision. Unfortunately for them, the timing of their actions and the seemingly uncompassionate manner in which they went about them makes this an easy story to slant against them. In the end, the chapter will close, the house will go over to someone else, and things will end up just as they perhaps were meant to be — but reputations and emotions were irrevocably damaged.

  22. Greek Alum Says:

    I am an alumni of another Greek letter sorority and I completely support Delta Zeta’s actions. If you have never been a member of a greek organization, you can’t understand DZ’s actions. Recruitment is very difficult and if you don’t have committed members, it just won’t work. The president of the university is being very childish by not even speaking with DZ. The press loves to bash greek organizations so I never believe anything I read in regards to topics like this in the liberal media. You never hear anything good about greek organizations. My husband and myself are both Greeks & will be until the day we die. If you aren’t committed, then don’t join. Remember this entire world is about appearances. It may not be fair but that’s just the way it is.

  23. Greek Alum Says:

    One more point, greek organizations don’t get money from the government only from supporters and Alumni. They are private organizations and they can do whatever they choose to do as long as it’s legal.

  24. gbaron Says:

    This is directed to Disputo: one of the rules of commenting on crisisblogger is mutual respect. I don’t know why you are so angry, but whatever the reason personal attacks against me or anyone else participating in this discussion will simply not be allowed.
    I refer you to one of my first posts: Why are bloggers so angry?
    I heartily welcome any and all perspectives, providing they demonstrate respect and the right of all to express opinions without fear of having motives judged or their character assassinated.

  25. DZ DePauw Alum Says:

    What DePauw University did is wrong. Bottom line. I am no longer proud to be a DePauw graduate, but I am a proud to be a Delta Zeta.

  26. Greek Alum Says:

    DePauw Univeristy created this mess by refusing to understand or consider the needs of their organization. It’s interesting out the DePauw University staff member who recommended the reorganization process seems to have completely vanished.

  27. Another DZ DPU Alum Says:

    The Delta Zeta National Organization was concerned with the reputation of the Delta Chapter moreso than the wellfare of the girls who were members. No, DZs were not the prettiest girls on campus. As a DZ, I am allowed to say so. Yes, some girls were “socially akward” and we were not always the favorites of all the fraternity boys. But we also were not whores or sluts. The National Organization encouraged the girls to go out and party more, to be seen at fraternities and such. That was not who these girls are, and what we all liked so much about Delta Zeta was no one told us who to be, or how to dress, or what activities to do. I had the best of everything when I was at DPU in the Delta Zeta house: I lived with my friends, I knew girls with every different major and minor, I could learn something from every one of my sisters. We were not the typical sorority because we were not all rich, thin and white and because we weren’t, we did not have the recruitment numbers of other houses. It is a shame, but it is the truth. What bothers me so much is that the National Organization realized this and tried so very hard to change it. Nationals cared more about quantity than quality, and that is the basis of the problem. While I can understand the National organization’s push for more members, why recruit girls who will not care about their house and only end up quiting or being expelled from the sorority for inappropriate behavior?

    The National organization decided to grant 23 girls alumni status and then operate on a skeleton crew to increase the recruitment numbers. How can this be the best course of action? Any potential new initiates would be fools not to be concerned about the same thing happening to them in 2 years. Nationals also based their decision on how willing the girls were to actively recruit new members. However, the National organization misrepresented themselves to the chapter. My example is the big vote that everyone talked about. Yes, the actives voted to close the chapter house. What everyone should know is that the National Organization promised the girls they would be able to reopen the house without first confirming with the University that this was the case. Also, the girls did not vote easily or quickly. The first vote was a tie, after which all the girls then reconsidered their options and voted again with a one vote margin to close the house. Furthermore, Nationals told the girls that the house absolutely would not be able to function without at least 25 new recruits. Oddly enough, the day after that vote the housing corporation (those responsible for the finances of the house) informed the girls that yes, the house could continue to operate for a few more years easily, even with the low recruitment numbers.

    The New York Times reporter did not get the full story from the girls at Delta Zeta. Neither did any of the other reporters. However, Delta Zeta’s website is not exactly honest or helpful in the matter. While I agree that the NYT reporter may have not told the full story (or even gotten most of it right) he did bring to light a situation that warranted some attention. The women of Delta Zeta at DePauw University are first and foremost STUDENTS whose lives were disrupted horribly by the actions of an organization which is supposed to exist solely for their benefit. They were kicked out of their home because they were not pretty enough to go recruit more members. It was never about race, but it was very much about IMAGE. It does not help that the National Organization did not release any information to the public either, and the statements on its website are not all correct.

    Oh, and one last comment directed towards Greek Alum. I agree with you that private organizations can do what they like so long as it is legal, and sororities are definately private organizations. However, by forcing the 23 women to move out of the chapter house, the National Organization was in breech of contract with all of those women who signed their housing contracts — which is a one year, binding contract that the girls will live in the house from August until May.
    Even women who deactive and move out of the chapter house are subject to fines much like if you break a lease on an apartment. So, Nationals didn’t follow all the rules, did they?

  28. Kathleen Lewton Says:

    As a sorority woman (not DZ) AND a PR professional, it’s amazing to me that so many of you, including Mr. Crisisblogger, are blaming the New York Times for this mess, as if absolutely nothing happened at the DePauw chapter. If nothing had happened, if the women didn’t feel that they were treated badly (“stay upstairs while we have a party”), there would have BEEN NO Times story. If the women had been treated decently, they would not have complained and the reporter would have had nothing to write about.

    Beyond that, DZ HAD THE CHANCE TO TELL THEIR STORY TO THE TIMES, and as anyone who read the entire story can read, DZ refused to talk to the Times. If you refuse to talk to a reporter, then it’s childish to whine that your point of view isn’t included in the story. Any crisis PR professional knows that it is incumbent upon the company or organization to tell their side of the story to the press — or face the consequences of silence.

    What is so troubling is that after refusing to talk to The Times, the “newspaper of record” for America, they then had a representative on CNN with Paula Zahn, and on Good Morning America. What a decidedly odd media strategy — refuse to talk to the newspaper that will break the story of record that will shape all ongoing coverage — and then do interviews on TV, which are seen/heard and then evaporate. Clearly DZ either had no PR counsel or they were ill-advised — but if they had presented their side of the story to the Times, at least their viewpoint would have been included, side by side with the women’s comments, and thoughtful readers could have drawn their own conclusions. By ignoring the Times, the DZ leaders made a critical mistake that will haunt them going forward.

    And by refusing to talk with the press initially, whatever the reason, they gave the impression that they either had something to hide or they didn’t really care what people thought. This was as damaging to their image as their actions at DePauw.

    Finally, in yet another PR mistake, they used their website to attack the University and the president. When the first Times’s story ran, the DePauw president was still giving them benefit of the doubt — he said the University was investigating. So it seems that there was still some room for negotiation and salvaging the situation. But I’m sure when the University trustees and management saw the hostile comments on the DZ website — the public part of the site, not the members’ only part — that probably did little to make them want to work with DZ.

    It appears that the Delta Zeta leadership have made one mistake after another, from the decisions made about the members, to the way the notification was handled, to refusing to talk to the Times but doing interviews on TV (where the DZ rep was truly embarrassing), and then to pushing the University into a corner . . . . and then complaining about the outcome. If anyone created this crisis, it was most certainly NOT the New York Times — the Times was just a bit player in this situation.

    Unfortunately, DZ has tarnished the reputation of ALL sororities and ALL sorority women, and that makes me extremely angry.

    And to Mr. Crisisblogger, do you really think it’s smart crisis management to let a story go to press, in a publication like the New York Times — knowing that the other side has presented its views — and to refuse to comment or speak with the reporter??

  29. gbaron Says:

    Thanks for commenting Kathleen. Glad to have a PR professional participate in this lively discussion. The NYT article I blogged on was the first, I believe, that the NYT wrote on this. And DZ leaders did participate in that article. So I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say they refused to talk.They did talk, and their website also immediately had an explanation–a faulty one, in my mind, but they were talking. My criticism of the NYT was because even though the DZ leadership did talk to them and did provide them what I believed then (and still largely believe with some alterations) to be an adequate and thoroughly different explanation about what went on with the DePauw chapter, the NYT chose to bury their comments in the middle of the story and essentially ran with a headline-grabbing story rather than a much more balanced and accurate one. That was my chief concern then, and remains my only real interest in this issue. I hate to see people and organizations unnecessarily hurt in order to attract audiences. Whether such people deserve to be hurt because of other things they did or did not do is not the issue to me.

  30. audz Says:

    Thank you to the PR professional for your insight.

    I am a DZ and have worked in the crisis management business for 5 years. I have beating my head against the wall trying to get someone on National Council to listen to sound strategies that could have helped turn this situation around. Instead of following sound professional advice, they have now filed a baseless lawsuit against DePauw.

    I will never be emabarrassed to be a DZ because there are some amazing women in the organization. I am thoroughly embarrassed by our national leadership. I know that there are undercurrents within the alumnae population to get these miserable examples of leadership removed. I hope these people are successful before DZ is totally buried.

  31. Wendi Taylor Nations Says:

    As a DePauw grad, Delta Zeta and PR professional, I have been throwing a lot of unsolicited crisis communications advice at the University.

    As the story got worse and worse, I thought it would be only fair to give DZ some feedback, as well, after they called for a “media freeze” on their web site. Like Audz above, I reached out to the director of communications and copied Cindy Menges on March 2.

    Here’s my email:

    “As a DePauw and Delta Zeta alum, but most importantly
    because I am a public relations professional, I feel
    like I must respond to Delta Zeta’s call for both
    organizations to stop responding to the media.

    As a communications professional yourself, I have to
    think you KNOW this is the wrong thing to do.

    Delta Zeta could have ended all of this by showing
    remorse and taking responsibility for a solution.

    Instead, you:

    1)Lied about your process to the NY Times and got
    busted for it when they got the letter that told the
    girls they must leave by January 29;

    2)Tried to re-group by saying you had made a mistake
    in not delivering the message personally (which, to
    the media, means “we’re sorry we sent a letter that
    could be shared with the NY Times”)

    3)Made the statement that the media is inaccurate and
    mischaracterizing the situation while not giving proof
    points about exactly how the media is wrong (countless
    consumer surveys show that “blame the media” and “no
    comment” really mean the person or organization is
    guilty of what they are accused); and

    4)Belatedly tried to establish criteria for
    deactivating the girls who refused to agree to
    “day-to-day recruiting” (every reporter I know who has
    been a part of the Greek system has wondered exactly
    what this is, as this was never an expectation for
    them, and it wasn’t for me, as well).

    Have you been reviewing the media at all? DePauw
    isn’t getting blamed for this mess, Delta Zeta is and
    everything you’ve done with the media suggests that
    Delta Zeta indeed DESERVES the blame.

    NOW you’re trying to say with this “media freeze”
    statement that it’s all about protecting DePauw? Any
    savvy reporter can see that this is about protecting
    Delta Zeta’s reputation, not DePauw’s.

    You have a great deal of vulnerability here, given
    that you paid to post the remaining girls’ statement
    on Business Wire not 36 hours before you’ve called for
    this freeze.

    If you were my client, I’d tell you to get somebody
    out there to take responsibility and show remorse,
    fire the person/people who made this happen, and work
    with the media instead of trying to get DePauw to
    agree to stop talking to the media. Jet Blue is a
    great recent case study of how this is done.

    Also, quit reinventing your past actions. You didn’t
    really want to negotiate with the University until all
    this media happened. Start talking honestly and
    openly about next steps and quit trying to spin that
    you’ve done that in the past.

    You would do well to proof your statements before you
    post them. I believe you meant “undue” instead of
    “undo”. Very amateur and the media has been punishing
    you for it.

    One last thing: Get Cindy Menges media training. Her
    performance with Paula Zahn was appalling.

    Good luck.”

    So, I KNOW they’ve gotten good crisis communications counsel. What is their PR firm thinking by allowing them to keep this story alive by filing a lawsuit against DePauw? If the agency is giving them good counsel and Delta Zeta is ignoring it, the agency should resign them.

    I’d like to clarify a comment made by my esteemed colleague, Kathy Lewton. Delta Zeta did communicate with the NY Times. They just refused to do a live interview and instead responded to written questions. As Kathy so accurately pointed out in an email between us, that is a method guaranteed to piss off a reporter, but nevertheless, they did respond to Sam Dillon.

    I respect Mr. Crisisblogger’s reasoned perspective on the seminal NY Times article (and violently agree with his comments on Delta Zeta’s writing abilities!), but there is one detail I want to highlight. Delta Zeta told Sam Dillon that they had NOT told the girls they needed to leave the house. When the girls supplied the letter to the contrary, DZ was caught in their lie. To me, this lie colors all subsequent communications and I don’t believe a word they say.

    The media didn’t create this crisis. Delta Zeta’s lying and stonewalling did.

  32. Norman Pressman Says:

    Ms. Nations:

    Excelletn analysis. Is Ms. Menges a paid professional or a lay leader? Has any DZ taken any action to remove the curretn leadership?

    You might want to take a few minutes to read the lawsuit-very very funny! Whoever decided to draft this complaint and file it must be an enemy of DZ and the entire Greek system.

  33. Wendi Taylor Nations Says:

    Thanks, Mr. Pressman!

    I THINK (can’t confirm) that Menges’ position is paid, but that the national president position is volunteer.

    As far as I can tell, DZ has NOT taken action to remove current leadership. In fact, USA Today did a Q&A with Menges last week, which probably indicates that she’s not going anywhere.

    I’m glad you’ve read the complaint, too. Have you ever heard a charge of “false media campaign”? When last I checked, the media and reporters are independent thinkers who examine the facts, review multiple sides to the story, and report the news. I sure would LOVE to find top-tier, influential media (like the NY Times!) to swallow my version of a story whole. Just kidding, of course…..I’m just SO appalled by the stupidity of this lawsuit.

  34. Cynthia Pike-Fuentes Says:

    As a Greek alum (not DZ) and a PR professional I am disappointed that Delta Zeta has chosen to behave in a manner that reinforces the decades old negative stereotype of Greek organizations. While private organizations — including those in the Greek system — have every right to operate as they choose as long as it’s legal, they also must live with the consequences of their actions and the resulting impact on their organizational reputation, including their reputation in the media.

    I agree that the unwritten criteria many Greek organizations use in recruiting new members often includes a strong emphasis on an attractive appearance as well as social skills and participation in extracurricular activities which promote an image of success. Having said that, the foundation of all Greek organizations is scholarship, community service and a commitment to sustaining and growing relationships with the members of your chapter and national organization once members are initiated. Very few students would want to join a Greek organization if they believed that their membership status could change at any time if they no longer conformed to a certain physical image.

    As American culture becomes more diverse, Greek organizations must also diversify and re-examine their membership criteria if they want to continue to serve and prosper in the years ahead. Many may well choose to maintain an image and criteria that were acceptable 40 years ago, but they will find that their national reputation will be tarnished and their membership ranks greatly diminished.

    One final point — while national Greek organizations may not technically operate as a traditional business they must, again, develop a business model of operation and a service mentality if they are going to thrive in the coming years. They would be wise to learn that they have “customers” and key audiences including current members, alumnae, prospective members and the institutions where their chapters are located. Let’s not forget that Greek organizations operate at the invitation and approval of universities and colleges where chapters are located. The presence of Greek organizations on any campus is a privledge granted by that institution, not a right.

  35. Bettyn Says:

    This comment is directed to “audz”:

    As a former DZ whose chapter was suddenly closed after I graduated, I cannot help wondering if the national office also clumsily closed our chapter in much the same manner that it did DePauw’s. (We were a bunch of mostly fine arts majors. “Wonks”, if you want to use that derogatory term. Membership was always an issue.) Also, I would like to know if there is a DZ alum organization that is fighting the national organization over its apparently heavyhanded handling of this unfortunate situation. I have severed all ties to Delta Zeta in reponse to the situation at DePauw University.
    Callously kicking out initiated members of a national sorority because of race, creed, or physical appearance is NOT to be tolerated under any circumstance. If it had been done by the young women of this sorority, then the national office should have yanked their charter immediately. Instead, to have a bunch of grown and supposedly mature alumnae officers do such a thing is immoral and beneath contempt! I have no desire to have any relationship to an organization that would do such a thing.
    I will vigorously support thinking DZ alumnae across the country in their efforts to remove these stupid, superficial, money grubbing and just plain nasty women from the sorority’s national office. It is time for big changes in this organization and the sooner it is done, the better.
    Please respond to me via this website with any contacts you may have with DZ’s that want this situation resolved and these young girls defended.
    Thanks in advance.

  36. Ali G Says:

    This response is directed at the Ugly Bettys who are opposed to DZ’s actions. First off, I would just like to point to the fact that those put on alumnae status indicated a lack of interest in recruitment. A Greek organization has one of its major purposes the attraction of members; to not be interested in recruitment is the equivalent of desiring the benefit without the responsibility. This in itself is enough to settle the whole matter, without getting into appearances.

    Secondly, even assuming, arguendo, that appearance of those dismissed had anything to do with their dismissals, the actions still were proper from a business perspective. One of the greatest attractions ANY organization can hope for is a good reputation. Even assuming appearance had anything to do with the dismissals, why should that be a problem? I personally would look down upon a group of Fatty Boom Booms crowding out the Julies, and apparantly DePauw students felt the same way (hence the “Dog House” reference). Granted, race involvement would have been deplorable, but any race-related problems have been summarily dismissed.

    In sum, DZ’s actions were proper for excluding the unmotivated, and even if they did so because they were also unattractive, it was proper. Unattractive people should just accept that they are not wanted by those who are, and instead, should focus on excelling in mind-related endeavors. In these, they are best suited, as their lack of good appearance allows them to focus more directly upon intellectual success. As a caveat, these uggs should not try to intellectualize appearance-realated things, as one cannot argue with an essence, and they are only setting themselves up for dissapointment.

    Ali G

  37. C.Rojek Says:

    Nice, Ali G. Very nice. Now I understand that the 23 evicted members, and the other six sisters that quit in protest, were clearly in the wrong. Further, because they were in the wrong, what I had interpreted as mishandling of the situation by the national organization (form letters, sent a week before finals, breaking what was expected to be full-academic-year housing contracts, eviction leaving people as little as four weeks to find alternate housing) was actually quite reasonable. Finally, the Delta Zeta national organization’s crisis management approach, which I believed left something to be desired, must have actually been stellar. All those saying otherwise must be Ugly Bettys, Fatty Boom Booms, and Uggs. Many thanks for your illuminating comments; I am sure that you have shared your true essence.

  38. Ali G Says:

    To C.Rojek: Well, surely you must have seen the pictures of those girls right? Is it not a fact that they were the cause of DZ becoming known as the “dog house?” And anyway, what is wrong with Elitism? Do you honestly believe that such a sacred institution, duly founded upon the evolutionary survival-of-the-fittest principle, should now be discarded so those who would otherwise not succeed may be helped along? As to my word choice, I believe that the opponent view has utilized a few reductionary terms as well; what about fighting fire with fire? This is a net forum, not a situation where one should be concerned with PR repurcussions.

  39. C.Rojek Says:

    Ali G, this is a net forum dedicated to crisis management, that is, a forum specifically to PR repurcussions! Please note that, at some point in your life, there will be certain situations where the fittest are those who are able to read with comprehension. Yes, both sides have utilized more than a few reductionary terms. No, you are no worse than the other jerks on the either side of the argument. There are sensible voices on both sides of this argument; please accept my apologies for expecting yours to be one of them.

  40. Ali G Says:

    To C.Rojek:

    In this forum we are DISCUSSING PR situations, not subjecting ourselves to its confines. Regarding reading comprehension, you speak wise, yet your position demonstrates your own inability to do so. For, if this were not the case, you would see that all “written” documentation of this situation has indicated absolutely no presence of discriminatory action on the part of DZ: those asked to leave were so asked because the did not desire “day-to-day” recruiting. It takes an imputation of subjective inferences to come to your conclusion; if you had taken Logic 101, you would already know that you do not get very far with subjective inductions, but rather, only with objective deductions. So, sir, I concur with you on your recognition of the “fittest=reading ability” proposition, for the current i situation itself is evidence enough of it. But, I respectfully must point out that you have shown yourself “unfit” in that regard in this current situation. Apparantly you must be somehow involved with PR to be interested in this whole mess, but tell me, how far do subjective inductions which only acknowledge the feelings of the “underdogs” (no pun intended) actually get you in that career? Surely the greater money is to be found in the big corporations, who are not interested in the underdog’s fate (at least in their heart of hearts, although they may feign so for public image at times), but rather, with promoting their one objective (increase the capital to ultimately make profits for the stockholders).

    My original post dealt with the factual evidence of the situation. The latter part of the post was my “ad absurdum” argument, namely, that unattractive people detract from a good appearance to prospective recruits, and so, the dismissals were justified on that basis alone.

    We need to stop looking at society from a “bottom-up” approach and return to the “top-down” view that made this nation the leader of the world. I realize this is a “grand scale” statement, but if all the cogs in the USA machine were to make this transition, this goal would be effectuated.

    Taking a cue from Darwin, natural progress is not “slowed by too great a concern for the individual.” The PR community needs to (as CB tends to do already) take such a stance, and act accordingly.

    Respect,

    Ali G

  41. C.Rojek Says:

    Ali G

    Sorry again, but there is no “factual” evidences in this case, just what was said by the many parties: Delta Zeta National; purged members;members who resigned in protest; members who remained active; DePauw administration. Saying that Delta Zeta National’s claims are “factual”, while dismissing everyone else, is not very convincing.

    While my background in logic may not be strong, at least I understand that a “reductio ad absurdum” is an apagogical argument, used to disprove a point by showing its absurdity, not to prove one, as you have used it.

    While your reading comprehension may be stronger than I have credited, your speculation regarding the motivation of my interest clearly shows you don’t exercise that comprehension often by actually reading, as an earlier post of mine on this page explains it.

    I question your understanding of Darwin, who noted that, while species evolve, the mechanism of evolution occurs through individual adaptation. Further, Darwin firmly believed that moral sense was evidence of higher evolution: “any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts … would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man”. I do not believe he would have appreciated your using his ideas to justify behavior of questionable ethicality.

    Again, Delta Zeta National was entirely justified in their goal (reinvigorating the chapter) and even in the means (removing members that didn’t meet whatever criteria they established as important), but they did it in an incredibly ignorant way (the “factual evidence” to which you refer includes a public, written apology by Delta Zeta National, so please don’t try to convince me that this is not correct) and they have lost the public relations battle to the Ugly Bettys, Fatty Boom Booms, and Uggs. I do not believe that makes them the fittest; I do not believe it is evidence of “elite” status, justifying their right to “top-down” leadership.

    Believe it or not, I wish them, and you, the best. Sincerely, the least likely way for Delta Zeta National to achieve the best for them is to continue their present course. Equally sincerely, the least likely for you to achieve the best for either Delta Zeta National or yourself is to continue to tell people to take whatever stuff the elite (you?) shove their way.

    C.Rojek

  42. Ali G Says:

    C.Rojek:

    To briefly respond, the reason DZ has suffered in the media battle was not due to prowess of any type on either side being flexed. It was rather due to a deus ex machina — the NYT journalist who sensationalized the whole thing to attract reader interest. After all, that is what the basis for this blog was in the first place. That an underdog group was exploited by a much larger entity than DZ national does not properly reflect any actual ability of either the FBBs or DZ. It aso explains DZ’s so called apology, which I maintain was absolutely due to the negative publicicty resulting from the NYT article.

    As far as Darwin is concerned, it is true, as you say, that individual adaptation is the primary evolutionary mechanism. But this process occurs on the survivial of the fittest schema. As to the “moral nature” — you are also correct in making the statement, but not in the inference you wish to be drawn from it. Morality and conscious that develop properly reflect this survival of the fittest method, and this morality is best suited to follow the truthes of the evolutionary process — e.g. those who will increase an organism’s likelihood of successful adaptation are preferred to those who will lead to its decline (if it isn’t clear to you by this point, the organism here is DZ). This again comes back to my “bottom-up”/”top-down” distinction; the weak and unpreferred will always try to gain an unnatural advantage by trying to convince the strong to “walk a mile in their shoes” or some similar sympathy plea. However, this is also reflected in those who support terrorist acts on the basis of their lessor power in relation to the greater nation (the “use whatever means available” rationale). These FBBs are terrorists in this situation, and they could have harldy chosen a more effective “terrorist” act than the NYT article (again, I realize the NYT journalist probably had his own reasons for doign the article unrelated to helping facilitate such an act).

    For my own edification, as a nerdy freshman in college sitting in Logic 101 at 8:30 a.m., I would also like to address your conception of my absurdum argument. I asked my teacher, and he agreed that, as my “ugly images detract from good appearance” point could only be seen as an absurd statement, absurb because it is so obvious, it disproves the opposite conclusion — namely, that unnattractive people should be allowed to be in public view representing DZ.

    Ms. Rojek, keep it coming, I bore easily, and your motivated responses compel my interest, because you seem to have an understanding of some strong concepts, but it is only your application of them that is unfortunate. Perhaps a further education by me is necessary?

    Ali G indahouse

  43. Norman Pressman Says:

    Hello again-I just did a google search for Delta Zeta and guess what the story has vanishd from the headline and back pages (correct me if I’m wrong). From where I sit, had the national office not filed the lawsuit this incident would be soon relegated to the fading memories of all. Now we’ll soon see answers, motions to dismiss and maybe even a live trial (surely DZ’s national isn’t stupid enough to let this go to trial if they meat the University’s obvious forthcoming motion to dismiss).

    Whethr one supports the sorority or not is there anyone out there who things the lawsuit was a good idea from a pr viewpoint?

  44. Ali G Says:

    Yes Norman, it was. A lawsuit means vindication (unless you lose, obviously) and here there is no factual evidence of wrongdoing on DZ’s part, but there is at least an indication that the DePauw jumped the gun, as it acted upon — at most — conjectural evidence. If they win, they will be able to dismiss unenthusiastic members in the future, which is a goal of all motivated “businesses” (and we are thinking of DZ as a business in the sense that they are managing their PR right now). If they were to not take this to court, they would be subject to the whim of the media and their ex-members… However, you are correct to point out that if they do lose, they will look pretty goofy, as if they protesteth too much. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  45. Norman Pressman Says:

    Ali G-For Delta Zeta winning this case (even if they are legally correct) involves pretrial motions and the resultant publicity. Then a trial. If their complaint withstands a motion to dismiss (in essence a legal “so what” saying the complaint does not state a cause of action) then they have a live trial. Such a trial would almost certain not take place for at least 18 months. Then even if they win its probably a year for a ruling by a court of appeal. So they keep their name in the news for at least two and a half years- even if they win they lose.

  46. Wendi Taylor Nations Says:

    Ditto to what Mr. Pressman says. We’re talking brand perception here, not evidence or lack thereof wrongdoing, aka reality. From a public relations POV (the topic of this blog, of course), the lawsuit is a stupid idea. If Delta Zeta wins or loses in the courtroom, they still have the right to dismiss members, like any business, according to whatever policies and protocols they have in place. It’s not the action of dismissal that’s at issue…it’s the cover-up of the reasons for, exacerbated (proven!) by the lies to the NY Times, and the process of the dismissal.

  47. Norman Pressman Says:

    Hello all. Have you noticed that Delta Zeta’s 15 minutes of infamy seems to be over-We’ve had Imus and more Rosie stuff and even some real news like Virginia Tech. But for the lawsuit-Delta Zeta’s mistake would be almost ancient history remembered only at DePauw (where it wouldn’t make any difference because there be no chapter.) Further although many people will have some vague memory of blubbergate I’ll bet in a year of those who remember the incident less than 10% will remember that the sorority was Delta Zeta but soon there will be court action and more publicity.

    The only thing bringing their name back in the news will be their ridiculous lawsuit. I’ll bet their national convention (I think its actually summer 2008) will have to credential journalists.

  48. Norman Pressman Says:

    in case anyone is still following this blog-

    Its interesting tht there has been virtually no mention of blubbergate in the media for several months. I just check on the Court web site and the Delta Zeta Depauw trial is set for trial in September of 2008.

    How stupid is this from a public relations view? By then few people will remember blubbergate and I’ll bet of the ose that do few will associate it with the Cro Magnons (reference to Geico Commercial) at Delta Zeta but there iwll certainly be more media attention.

    Even if the suit had any merit can anyone give me a good reason why DZ is helped by the suit?

    • Tracy Tamela Owen Says:

      I read your response and it is as silly as the day is long. I think many out there are starting to realize how poisonous the Greek system really is. After an altercation with the Delta Gammas, I certianly have. To me the Greek system is nothing but an upper class exclusive gang who is allowed to exist because of their numbers and their money. As I stated in a letter to the Delta Gammas if you do not want trouble do not invite it in. You have certainly invited it in many times or a long list of your legal battles would not be on the internet for all to see.
      That is all I have to say.

      Your wacky friend,

      Tracy Tamela Owen
      408.368.0347
      tracyowen07@comcast.net


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