Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Celebrates Centennial

“Oh, what a wonderful time to be a Delta!” will likely be chanted across the globe in the next week as the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta celebrate 100 years of sisterhood, scholarship, and service. Founded on January 13, 1913, by 22 Howard University women students, Delta Sigma Theta has grown to become the largest predominately African American sorority in the world, with more than 900 chapters in the United States, Germany, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Japan, South Korea, England, Jamaica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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The Department of Education released last week the list of 55 schools currently under investigation for mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases. Now, one of those schools is stepping up with an unusual measure: Amherst College is banning all fraternities and sororities from its campus.

To be clear, Greek life at Amherst has been officially banned for the past 30 years. But an underground Greek scene has been alive and well, led by popular fraternities such as Chi Psi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and OT.

But that’s all about to change. On Tuesday, the school’s board of trustees made it clear that they would no longer tolerate this unofficial Greek life. In an announcement to the students, the board affirmed that anyone who joins “off-campus fraternities and sororities, and fraternity-like and sorority-like organizations” is subject to suspension or expulsion.

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The Sorority Body Image Problem

I should have known sorority life was not for me.

My gut reaction was telling as I walked down the checkerboard floors of the veranda at the Carolina Inn. I sat at a small table, one of 20 or so, in one of the Inn’s elegantly furnished banquet halls. I was provided with a glass of water, a box of tissues, an index card on which to list my sorority preference, and an attentive alumna ready to help me make my choice. It was the fourth and final day of rush at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I had a decision to make. Having only been called back by one sorority out of 10, I would have to choose whether or not Greek life would be a part of my experience as a student. I hesitated as I ran my finger across the blank space on the card where my signature would be. I signed my name and then I cried.

As a young woman born and raised in North Carolina, attending UNC had always been a dream of mine. In the fall of 2011, I took my chance and transferred in as a junior. I tried to do all the things a new Tar Heel is supposed to do, including rushing a sorority. Close to 12 percent of UNC Chapel Hill’s undergraduate students go Greek, but, surrounded by fraternity and sorority houses, the campus seemed optimized for Greek life. So, I became a part of a system that not only promoted outdated gender stereotypes and an attitude of exclusion, but is also correlated with members having increased episodes of poor self-esteem and disordered eating. And during the spring of 2012, these tendencies of the Greek system came barreling into my personal life, when my sorority sisters started discriminating against me because of my weight.

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I recorded myself reading that crazy sorority email that was going around today because it’s the best and the girl that wrote it is totally the Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross of her sorority and also because I don’t get enough occasions to put on a smokey eye and too much bronzer.