Sigma Chi under fire after Derby Days
Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016
By Michael Quirk
The Eta chapter of Sigma Chi at the University of Mississippi is under fire following comments made at the annual Derby Days event over the weekend.
Derby Days is a yearly philanthropic event that raises blood and financial donations for a local children’s hospital. Each sorority choreographs dances and puts forth a Derby Days Queen candidate who is then quizzed. While $25,000 and over 1,000 units of blood were raised, it’s the quiz portion that has the fraternity in hot water.
According to a Facebook post which has since gone viral, members of the fraternity asked candidates questions such as: “which Sigma Chi they would go down on,” “what’s your fondest memory of the Sigma Chi basement” and “what type of sausage do they prefer: linked or Sigma Chi?” Since the initial backlash, another post from a female Ole Miss student has been shared dozens of times.
“No one is trying to negate the fact that Sigma Chi raised $25,000, but to act as if women can’t, to put it plainly, be pissed off and expect the fraternity to be held accountable because of that is inane,” wrote Alexis Smith. “And because Sigma Chi fraternity won’t come out directly and denounce the sexist and misogynistic bull that was spewed at the philanthropy event, because they keep insisting that the questions were “fun” (guess what? those questions were NOT fun), they are implying that they do not actually care about apologizing to the women affected, humiliated, and objectified. They are minimizing what they have said and disregarding their opinions.”
Sigma Chi’s national office is based out of Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and home to Northwestern University. Executive director Michael Church is traveling on business during the week and as such was unavailable for comment. On Saturday, however, The University of Mississippi released a statement saying representatives of the Title IX Office are investigating the matter.
“The university takes the report alleging a hostile environment very seriously,” said Rebecca Bressler, director of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance at UM. “It is important that members of our community feel safe and supported – actions that undermine that goal will not be tolerated.”
Any official or unofficial Derby Days activities have ceased as per the direction from the school. Also according to the statement, if the allegations are substantiated, the behavior will have violated campus policy.
Despite the trending posts on Facebook, met largely with support and encouragement, there is still a feeling of silence on the matter among many at the university. As a precaution, many Greek organizations have pledges agree on Bid Day to not discuss controversial matters with the media or face consequences from the organization. Smith, on the other hand, elected to have her voice heard.
“I am not proud that I know tens of women who have been harassed and assaulted within the walls of fraternity houses, I am not proud that during rush week boys call girls derogatory words from their truck windows, I am not proud that asking girls about oral sex at a philanthropy event was even considered acceptable,” she said. “We can do better than this and should.”