Smith College, an all-female liberal arts insitution in Northampton, MA, has had quite a media blitz this week. An unidentified student sent an email to her peers proposing the creation of a chapter of Delta Gamma sororities catering to straight women only. Smith students and faculty, as well as other involved parties, were not pleased.
USA Today reports:
In the e-mail — which was originally posted and later removed on Tumblr by another Smith student known as “aQuieterRioter” — the unidentified author invited her classmates to help her create an “exclusive” chapter of Delta Gamma for “straight girls” with planned activities such as “sorority mixers with Amherst men, weekly dinner dates, weekly photo shoots where we would dress up nice [and] baking nights.”
The self-identifying heterosexual student wrote in the e-mail that she felt “marginalized” at the women’s college of 2,600 and that the straight-only sorority could be a “really great way to socialize with people we identify more with at Smith.”
The response to the email was swift and addressed the issue of privilege in the situation:
“As a straight smithie I have NEVER felt marginalized by the queer community,” @jnims wrote Sept 17. “I can’t fathom how you see it as a source of oppression. Being straight isn’t a burden, not at smith, anywhere.”
Public outcry was so strong that the Smith College student who leaked the e-mail removed the original post, apologizing for the subsequent “witchhunt” against the author.
Plans for the all-straight sorority was news to Delta Gamma’s Mary Ellen Hardies, the national chapter’s director of communication, who told USA TODAY Delta Gamma first heard about the Smith student’s e-mail from a Google news alert.
“Our attorney has been in contact with the university trying to figure out what the heck is going on, who this girl is, to what extent things are happening” Hardies said of the unidentified student’s e-mail. “That sort of approach does not fall in line with our values at all.”
Smith’s Student Body President, Augusta Gronquist, emailed her own words of support to her peers.
“Incidents of this type go against our understanding of what it means to be a community,” Gronquist wrote. “People in our community are hurting right now; many issues, a lot of which are unspoken or frequently ignored, have been raised and need our attention.”
The author of the original email remains unknown. Do you feel for her, or do you think the public outcry is warranted? Sound off in the comments.
Photo courtesy of PolicyMic.