Washington University Panhellenic Urges Sororities Not To Participate In “Sexist” Derby Days


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It was only a matter of time until this happened. After last year’s “exposé” that Sigma Chi’s national philanthropy, Derby Days, is “misogynistic and sexist,” coupled with this semester’s incident at Ole Miss, when a drunk Sigma Chi hosting an event decided to ask some ladies some inappropriate sexual questions, it was only a matter of time before we heard the call for the demise of Derby Days. And yesterday we got it, from the Panhellenic council at Washington University in St. Louis.

According to the campus newspaper, Student Life, the Panhellenic board released a statement on Thursday, urging sororities to not participate in this year’s Derby Day’s event. From the statement:

Derby Days does not align with our community values, and we therefore ask that sorority chapters evaluate their participation in the event.

Philanthropy events should either raise money or raise awareness, and many of the activities of Derby Days do neither. We do not believe that doing laundry and buying brothers food in exchange for a hat, or auctioning off brothers are events that support raising awareness for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

We also believe that these events are sexist, as the competition of getting points throughout the week forces sorority women to compete with one another, and certain methods to earn points encourage traditional gender roles that assume women are responsible for things like feeding men or doing their laundry.

According to the paper, there are two events that Panhel particularly took exception to: a Sigma Chi brother auction event and the exchange of special hats throughout the week, for which sorority members could earn points for their chapters. The second one, I kind of don’t get — maybe I’m missing something, but WTF does a hat have to do with fundraising for cancer? But I’m a bit bamboozled about the date auction. Doesn’t it raise money for the cause? Don’t like 95 percent of campuses have similar auctions for a variety of causes? Again, maybe I’m missing something.

Panhel originally offered an incentive to entice the nine sororities on campus to not participate — they said for each organization that did not compete, they would directly donate $100.00 to the Huntsman Institute. But then…

Hold up, wait a minute. In an effort to pacify Panhel, Sigma Chi announced they would cancel both the date auction and the hat exchange. Panhellenic and Sigma Chi then issued a joint statement last night, which states in part, “Sigma Chi has approached Women’s Panhellenic Association to address the concerns with their philanthropy week. Moving forward, the organizations are working together to restructure the week.”

Well, ladies, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if Derby Days is sexist or not. We didn’t have it at my school, and frankly, I’m sort of thankful because it seems like a buttload of work. But here’s an important life lesson we can all take away from this situation at Wash U: apparently, all it takes is the girls threatening not to show up to get the boys to do what we want.

[via Student Life]

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