I’m speaking out about Derby Days – and others should do the same

‘This is such a big deal because women feel like they don’t have a voice’

It hurts me a lot to see how some of my friends refuse to openly discuss their thoughts about the events at Derby Days this past Friday – whether because they’re personally uncomfortable doing so or because their sororities tell them not to.

As an international student, Greek life is something new to me and to many others as well. While there are some things about the Greek system I am not familiar with, I know every sorority is always encouraging their members to run for Miss Ole Miss or to get involved on campus through ASB and many other activities that empower women.

It is, therefore, shocking how my friends are being shut down, not just by the sorority they affiliate with, but by other people around them; how in this day and age women are still scared to speak out, and how they presume this sexist behavior was somehow “something they signed up for.”

How are you going to ask students – who come to college to get educated, who come to college to make their time valuable, to become better professionals and better people – to ignore this issue?

Derby Days was not just about women being dehumanized, objectified and disrespected. It’s about the aftermath, how everyone was so scared to speak out. Though everyone in the room knew what was happening was bad, nobody stopped it – nobody felt safe enough to stop the whole situation.

The comments made at Derby Days didn’t just affect the girls but the Greek system as a whole, and every student at the University of Mississippi. Parents and kids were at the event, and this may have been their first impression of Greek life at Ole Miss. I know this perception was not accurate, because I have met incredible people that have done many amazing things through and outside their sororities and fraternities.

This is such a big deal because it sheds a light on the fact that women feel like they don’t have a voice. That’s why this has become such a big issue. Not because of anything Sigma Chi specifically did, but because this is the way women feel in society.

We need to give our ideas and beliefs the importance they deserve. The fact that some girls, especially sorority girls, are afraid to speak out saddens me, and I think that everyone – perhaps especially those within the Greek system – should encourage women to speak out and make a change in the world… even if it’s just by talking about it.

I’ve said it before: I already forgave Sigma Chi. I don’t look at them for less than what they are, and I don’t generalize, but we need to talk about it. I am so thankful for what they do for Batson and there are many Sigma Chis that genuinely love Ole Miss. The lesson in all of this is that I, and every other woman at Ole Miss, should feel comfortable enough to speak our minds and ask for respect, and support the ideas we believe in, not feel pressured to stay silent about something which so deeply affects us all.

Ole Miss: University of Mississippi