Bottoms: Race not factor for Delta Zeta

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
DePauw University president Robert Bottoms speaks to the media Monday.

Race did not play a factor in the eviction of 23 women from a DePauw University sorority house last December, according to officials on both sides of the issue Monday.

DePauw President Robert Bottoms said during Monday's press conference that he does not believe Delta Zeta officials engaged in racial discrimination against students when asking them to leave the campus house.

"I talked to no student who felt it was a racial issue," Bottoms said.

Delta Zeta officials also refuted racial claims via a statement issued on their website Monday.

"Despite media accounts to the contrary, Delta Zeta national leadership undertook the membership review and made decisions thereon based solely upon each woman's commitment to Delta Zeta's recruitment plans moving forward," sorority officials said.

They went on to state, "Delta Zeta National apologizes to any of our women at DePauw who felt personally hurt by our actions. It was never our intention to disparage or hurt any of our members during this chapter reorganization process."

Weeks after news of the sorority reached the pages of the New York Times, which led to the campus being swarmed by the national media, the DePauw community seemed ready to move on Monday afternoon.

A former resident of the Delta Zeta house declined to be interviewed by the BannerGraphic Monday after the press conference and law enforcement have been stationed outside the sorority house to shield the remaining students in the house from any more attention.

Bottoms said Monday that most of the women who remain in the Delta Zeta house -- less than half a dozen -- will graduate at the end of the year. Only two women are juniors and will return to campus as seniors next year. The university intends to find adequate housing for those women, Bottoms said.

Another sign that the students and the university are moving on: Bottoms announced Monday that plans for a new organization to takes its place on campus are already under way.

Bottoms alluded to the plans when he said there is talk of students organizing a new, independent sorority or co-op house on campus.

University officials said it would be up to the students and their adviser to organize those plans.

Meanwhile, Delta Zeta's 98-year run on the DePauw campus will officially come to an end when the sorority house closes its door at the end of the academic year.

The decision to close drew criticism from Delta Zeta's national headquarters on Monday.

"Delta Zeta national leadership is extremely disappointed that after 98 years, university officials have unilaterally closed the chapter and still refuse to meet with us," the sorority announced. "The situation concerning Delta Zeta at DePauw University continues to be mischaracterized and is harming all parties involved."

Had the university not decided to sever its ties with the sorority this week, Delta Zeta would have reached its 100th year on campus.

Bottoms said the university has reprimanded sororities and fraternities in the past, but has never taken such severe actions in the university's history.

"We've simply not been put in this situation before," he said.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: