We discussed the Delta Zeta incident a bit today in two of my classes (the Times article and growing publicity was on everyone’s mind, except for one freshmen who had somehow remained oblivious to the entire incident) , somewhat more extensively in one than another. In one, we talked about families of choice, including those created at college. One student pointed out that the women who left Delta Zeta, while no longer living together, are closer than ever. The feeling of family, of pulling together, of mutual support, has been strengthened by adversity.
I’m very proud of the two excellently-written letters from DePauw students in today’s Times; the other two, one from a parent, made important points as well.
CNN did a report on the situation (without acknowledging the Times piece, I believe) this evening on Paula Zahn’s show. The piece itself was OK, especially the moving clips of some of the women discussing their situation. Paula Z was appropriately confrontational with Cindy Menges, the Delta Zeta national executive director, who continued the blame-the-victims spin approach Delta Zeta as taken. When Zahn asked if there are any minority students left at DePauw’s Delta Zeta chapter, Menges absurdly claimed not to know (after all this barrage of publicity?).
Neither Zahn nor anyone on the panel (none of whom seemed to have thought through anything about the situation in advance) picked up on the assertion reported in the piece that the national office had encouraged the women in the chapter to do more drinking at fraternity parties, be more sexual in their interactions with fraternity men, and, by implication, sleep around more.
Menges kept claiming that the women ousted from the chapter had refused to agree to the “recruitment plan.” Well, if the plan required dressing more suggestively, doing more drinking, and sleeping around more to “improve” the chapter’s image, then no wonder these smart, academically-oriented women didn’t buy in.
The reporter’s piece was pretty good. Zahn and, especially, the panel (Dad called to tell me they all seemed like idiots) were poorly prepared, and no one showed any evidence of having carefully watched the piece or thought intelligently about it. It was a clear example of the low standards of much of the discussion on cable news channels.