The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Local Delta Zetas react to turmoil on national level

By Maja Petersen

[email protected]

Junior Ellen Waldhart joined the Delta Zeta sorority at UW-Eau Claire in spring 2005, where she found a “home away from home,” she said.

“My sisters were welcoming and have been there through thick and thin,” she said.

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The Delta Zetas of Eau Claire are active in many things, such as a Girl Scout troop at Longfellow Elementary School, the Chippewa County Humane Society and social events with other Greek organizations on campus, said Waldhart, the organization’s president.

However, much of the good they do has been overshadowed by national media coverage of an event that occurred in one of their sister chapters, she said.

According to a Feb. 25 investigative report in The New York Times, a Delta Zeta chapter in Indiana asked 23 of its 35 members to leave the sorority during chapter reorganization.

“The 23 members included every woman who was overweight. They also included the only black, Korean, and Vietnamese members,” according to the report. “The dozen allowed to stay were slender and popular with fraternity men.”

Membership at the DePauw University (Ind.) chapter had been down and national Delta Zeta officers warned the chapter that unless membership increased, the chapter could face closure.

In an effort to measure the level of commitment and dedication of recruitment from each woman in the sorority, national officers conducted interviews with each member in November, according to the Times’ investigation.

“They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house,” the article said. Six of the 12 women allowed to stay also quit the sorority at that time.

The sorority had not evicted these women, but rather recommended them for alumna status, said Delta Zeta Executive Director Cynthia Winslow Merges in a statement on the organization’s Web site.

“(The women) in effect, made their own decision to leave by demonstrating lack of commitment to meet recruitment goals,” she said.

The Eau Claire Delta Zeta chapter, which is composed of 29 members, has received some negative feedback as a result of news coverage of the DePauw reorganization, Waldhart said.

“Members of our chapter have been dealing with the criticism in their classes and are personally offended,” she said.

Waldhart said she believes Delta Zeta has been misrepresented in the media. The Delta Zeta chapter at Eau Claire has never asked a member to leave because of her appearance, academic major or minor or ethnic background, she said.

“We all come from different backgrounds,” she said. “We have different ideas and perspectives. We come from different hometowns.”

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Local Delta Zetas react to turmoil on national level