Derby Days

On Friday night, loud pop music echoed though the Tad Smith Coliseum as armies of sorority girls in tank tops stood in columns and rows dancing and chanting, “Sigma Chi, Sigma Chi.”

This practice, which to those outside the Ole Miss Greek community may seem alien and archaic, served as the final installment of a week of events for Sigma Chi’s beloved philanthropy event, Derby Days.

However, it wasn’t long after the winners’ cheers subsided that the backlash over the event began. On Saturday morning, Sigma Chi went under fire for sexually charged remarks made toward sorority representatives at the event.

As a heated Facebook post which condemned the event grew in popularity, investigations began, opinions polarized, and Ole Miss once again, was put in the media’s spotlight.

The Facebook post criticized the fraternity for allowing such lewdness and reprehended the sororities for forcing their members to participate in such a disparaging and  “humiliating” event.

“After a week long process of all the sororities on campus competing to raise money for Sigma Chi’s philanthropy, the guys proceeded to ask the contestants for their Derby Days queen over the mic at the dance competition where hundreds of women were gathered “which sigma chi they would go down on,” “what type of sausage would they prefer: linked or sigma chi,” and other questions of the like. I attended the event, not out of support for the way Sigma Chi runs their philanthropy event, but to cheer on friends who had put lots of time and effort into the dances (some, not out of choice, but of requirement by their respective sororities) only to be mortified and completely ashamed that I am even remotely associated with such an event.”

Sigma Chi President Clay Wooley has since made a public apology to the women involved.

As a member of one of the participating sororities, yes, I was required to participate in the Derby Days event, but no, I would not have chosen to abstain from the event if given the chance. Our chapter is comprised of over 400 members. Because of this fact, chapter community is difficult come by. Therefore, I would gladly accept an opportunity, any opportunity to spend time with my chapter. The hours we spent in the weeks prior to the event dancing together in parking lots, oftentimes in the rain, were- to me- well worth the time.

However, as a sorority woman, I do not condone any instance in which women are made to feel threatened, uncomfortable, or attacked in any way. As I sat in the arena last weekend, I was shocked and disheartened by some of the comments made and I do believe that the participating members should be punished for their actions.

However, the Greek system is under attack. Once again, our campus has been unfairly placed in the national spotlight and has received negative publicity for an isolated event that does not deserve the reaction its been given.

As investigations continue, I have seen the personal effects on individuals who are being punished for the brash actions of another.

The outcry from this event has allowed for more factions among our campus, in a time where we need to stand united.

On April 22nd at 6:00 a.m. representatives from each fraternity and sorority will meet to participate in Ole Miss’ inaugural Greek Prayer Walk. Parker Hudson, a sophomore Phi Delta Theta, has orchestrated this event as a way for the Greek community of Ole Miss to unite in something greater than itself. “We are asking you what you will sacrifice,” Hudson stated at a religious meeting on campus on Tuesday night, “for something so much bigger.”

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