An honest response to last week’s ‘sorority life’ piece

Dear editor,

In case this message finds its way into the hands of a reader who may not have seen the article I am referencing, yet another uninspired satirical list of offensive stereotypes about sorority life was recently published in the Cynic and it deserves a response.

While I understand the piece is meant to be satirical, I find it not only highly offensive, but an inappropriate and targeted attack on a specific group of students. At UVM, we are so privileged to have the opportunity to participate in over 170 different clubs and student organizations. With 170 choices it is clear that fraternity and sorority life may not be the right fit for everyone. However, our community is fighting an extremely arduous battle with the state of Vermont currently.

Losing our homes is not a laughable issue. Facing the end of our property tax exemption for our organization’s homes would destroy hundreds of years of history that many don’t even know exists at UVM. The property tax issue is deeply important not only to our student residents and members but our thousands of alumnae as well.

Just as the members of the Cynic choose the Cynic as their niche in college, fraternity and sorority life students choose their chapters. Similar to any other organization we are an extremely tight-knit support group for one another as we navigate the undergraduate years.

Unlike many clubs on this campus, our community is faced with the added pressure of the negative stories of other fraternity and sorority communities around the country in the media. Combating these images has become not only exhausting but also nearly impossible, as proven by the aforementioned article.  

To have fellow students and organizations such as the Cynic, which is widely distributed and well regarded by both the University and the public, publish a piece such as the one to which I am responding is a disappointment.

However, “bad press” isn’t what is so offensive about this article. This article isn’t only hateful to our community; it is an attack on the women in it as well. The article contains both classist and sexist elements that are misguided in their attempts at humor.

Categorizing an entire group of University of Vermont women as “raunchy”, defined by Merriam-Webster as “very dirty, dealing with or suggesting sex in a way that is somewhat shocking, obscene,” is a frankly atrocious display of sexism from a fellow UVM student which only perpetuates a campus rape culture that our organizations and many other campus organizations outside of fraternity and sorority life seek to combat.

This type of “slut shaming” is a devaluation of each and every sorority women on our campus, suggesting we are nothing better than “debutant” (to quote the author) airheads who do nothing of great note aside from spending their evenings having pillow fights.

This image is offensive to my sister who works 30 hours a week to pay her dues, to myself as I enter the final weeks of writing my honors thesis and to the countless number of women in my chapter, in other chapters and on this campus who have overcome the horror of sexual assault, which often stems from a gross devaluation of women.

We as University of Vermont students and sorority women are more than “that body all the magazines say you need to be hot,” we are more than an attempt to “tone your thighs” or a “half-squat to look smaller than your friends.”

Each and every student is entitled to their voice; it is one of the most beautiful gifts we are given in this country. However, to have such unfounded judgments communicated to the University community is not only hurtful and disappointing to our organizations and the University of Vermont students who are in them, but it also hinders our philanthropic efforts both on and off campus.

At UVM we claim to be a community who supports each other’s differing interests, our differences are to be celebrated; we claim to be a safe environment for women and to pride ourselves on each of the 170 organizations we offer for students to find a home away from home.

To tear down a fellow student organization is to go against what we stand for as a UVM community and for this type of behavior to be communicated through the most well respected student publication on campus which generally expresses the voice of the student body is to alienate, insult and belittle an entire group of fellow UVM classmates.

The article may be a joke, but the hateful and dangerous messages within it are not, especially those with the sole purpose of erasing female intelligence and value. It is nothing short of disappointing.



Emily Chamberlin

Class of 2016