According to a report from the University of Mississippi’s NewsWatch, many campus sororities responded to the backlash against Sigma Chi’s sexist Derby Days competition by instructing their members not to share the initial Facebook post about it, or publicly comment on the incident on social media or to the press.
A now-viral Facebook post from student Abby Bruce described a competition where sorority members were asked questions like, “Which Sigma Chi they would go down on,” and “What type of sausage would they prefer: linked or Sigma Chi?” The incident has prompted a Title IX investigation from the University.
The television station was reportedly sent screenshots of such messages from Delta Gamma, Phi Mu, AOPi, Tri Delta, and Kappa Alpha Theta. NewsWatch reportedly asked for comment from each chapter president, the majority of whom did not respond; sororities typically have policies in place prohibiting their members from speaking publicly on issues pertaining to their chapters.
Jezebel followed up with the majority of these chapters, as well as their national headquarters, but has not yet received a response. Separately, sorority Alpha Omicron Pi issued a statement on its Facebook page that reads in part:
The Nu Beta Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi is deeply distressed by the words and degrading actions that took place during the Derby Days event this past Friday night. We hope, because these actions have been brought to the public’s attention, the injustices displayed and the humiliation which resulted will be addressed. We also anticipate that the members of the Greek community will come together and begin to make changes in campus culture which should celebrate the accomplishments of women instead of objectifying them. In order to aid in this change, the sisters of the Nu Beta Chapter of AOII will work with our fellow Greek students to create a campus culture that is safe and respectful for all current and future students.
The sisters of the Nu Beta Chapter of AOII, have their own opinions regarding what took place that evening, and we respect all of our sisters’ thoughts and views, while also priding ourselves in our sisterhood and friendships. This is achieved through mutual respect and thoughtfulness no matter the situation.
NewsWatch also reported that a sorority member was kicked out of her sorority after posting about Derby Days on social media:
We were also contacted by a former sorority member who was forced to drop from her chapter [Sunday] night after voicing her opinion on social media against Sigma Chi and Derby Days. The ex-member wanted to stay anonymous because she feared backlash.
“There are many sorority women who are rightfully outraged by the events, and are disappointed in this game of Switzerland that the Greek community tries to play in order not to offend anyone or create even more negative attention,” one Ole Miss sorority member who requested anonymity told Jezebel via email. “However for many, this whole ‘playing safe’ deal seems to perpetuate frustration, as the sexualization of women keeps being taken lightly in Greek communities.”
“Most sororities have about 400 women each,” she continued. “The likelihood of that many people agreeing on a statement is slim, and so it is thought that neutrality or (more likely) the ‘no comment’ option is what’s best for Sorority Row.”
Abby Bruce condemned the silence to The Daily Mississippian:
“It makes it where even women are telling women not to speak out about injustices they see, because they don’t have the authority to do so.”
The university’s administration would not comment on the Title IX investigation other than to confirm that it was happening and that the university had not imposed any kind of gag order on the greek organizations. A spokesperson emphasized that the university does not have any policy that might limit students’ speech.
“Those are things that never should’ve been said,” Sigma Chi president Clay Wooley said in the news report. “Putting it into the category of rape culture, though, that is extreme, like you said. It’s supposed to be done out of innuendo and fun and it got carried away too far this year and shouldn’t have taken place.”
Update (1:35 p.m.): A representative from Delta Gamma’s national headquarters responded to Jezebel’s request for comment with the following:
The chapter was given the direction to, as always, send media inquiries to our office so we are able to provide the Fraternity’s response; individual members are always encouraged to speak up when they feel uncomfortable.
Delta Gamma does not condone the use of sexually aggressive language that disrespects members. As Article II of the Delta Gamma Constitution states, the objects of the Fraternity shall be to foster high ideals of friendship among women, to promote their educational and cultural interests, to create in them a true sense of social responsibility, and to develop in them the best qualities of character. Events that do not align with these values are contrary to the mission of the Fraternity. We encourage our members to speak up when they are uncomfortable and lead change on campus.