Sig Chi’s ‘Derby Days’ stirs controversy, ire
February 19, 2008
p. Complaints about fraternity Sigma Chi’s Derby Days philanthropy have led to discussions with the Inter-Sorority Council and leaders of the fraternity.
p. Derby Days is a week-long national philanthropy and is one of the largest in the country, according to Sigma Chi Philanthropy Chair Spencer Tawse ’10.
p. Derby Days is “a competition between different sororities or groups of girls to support the Children’s Miracle Network,” Tawse said. CMN is a non-profit organization that funds hospitals and medical research.
p. Competitions at Derby Days include creating banners, performing skits and lip-syncing.
p. The philanthropy became the source of some controversy this year when the ISC received complaints from females about Derby Days, ranging from the setting to the tasks assigned. Respondents to an ISC survey said that the philanthropy “is degrading to women who are judged by men of a fraternity” and is designed “to impress members of Sigma Chi.”
p. In response to the complaints, Tawse and Sigma Chi’s president Jonathan Anderson ’08 and former president Bryan McDermott ’07 met with the ISC to go over the complaints and the ISC’s proposals.
p. Tawse said that he knew of the problems with Derby Days when he signed on as Sigma Chi philanthropy chair.
p. “The previous philanthropy chair had worked on bringing Derby Days back to what it had been,” Tawse said. “I had come into this position with the goal to [continue] that.”
p. Tawse said that the ISC meetings were highly successful and that Sigma Chi and ISC worked out solutions to most of the issues discussed.
p. The ISC report indicated that murky scoring were a problem for many participants, who felt that Sigma Chi may have been awarding points based on criteria not in their guidelines. More than 75 percent of respondents also felt that the non-public venue for Derby Days’ activities “encouraged inappropriate behavior.”
p. In response, Tawse told The Flat Hat that many of the changes recommended by the ISC would be implemented.
p. “A lot of the recommendations were really simple, like a public scoreboard,” he said. Sigma Chi is now planning to hold the lip-sync performance as a concert in Lodge One.
p. To address complaints that participants were unsure of where the money for Derby Days was going, the first day of the competition will feature a presentation by the Children’s Miracle Network, Tawse said.
p. In addition, Tawse said he was happy with the ISC meetings and expects Derby Days to be a success this year.
p. “I think everyone came out of that meeting excited for Derby Days,” he said. “We feel like we have an opportunity to come out [of] this with a better philanthropy.”