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Coed engineering frat practices sexism

By Sarah Stewart
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 25, 1999
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Due to an error in re-typing the submission, the March 25 letter to the editor "Coed fraternity practices sexism" incorrectly stated the manner in which the writer left the fraternity. She withdrew her own pledge. The Wildcat regrets the error.

To the editor,

I have grown up thus far predominantly treated with respect as a woman. Attending a public university, I assumed that this would continue. Until this semester I had no reason to complain. This semester, I decided to pledge for Theta Tau, the professional coed engineering fraternity on campus. The group of people I met impressed me in many ways but extremely disappointed me with the rigidity with which they refuse to change their sexist tradition.

At the pledge class introduction, the 28 male and seven female active members said that they accepted us "men" as pledges. They called me pledge "brother" and in meetings they suggested that I grow up to be a good "man." Men and brother were the terms used to describe us.

I knew from the beginning that I was working to join a fraternity, founded on brotherhood. This is a concept that I understand. I do not, however, understand what it is to be someone's brother. I could have been a great sister to the members of Theta Tau, but I know now that it really was not important to them to make women feel welcome.

When I first voiced my concerns, they referred me to the regent who told me it was just a "concept" that they were after and that women currently involved did not seem to mind. One of the female members told me that she would not want to be called a sister because it would somehow imply that she was held to a different standard. I cannot understand why being called a woman makes you any less than a man or why any woman would not be proud and refuse being called anything less than what she is, a woman.

After my talk with the regent, I wrote many letters to active members asking their opinions and requesting this change, at least at the local level. I was asking for only two words: woman and sister. But to the Chi chapter of Theta Tau here on campus this must have seemed monstrous because my request was completely ignored. I never received a reply and was de-pledged.

It upsets me that the opportunities this organization provides are not available to everyone. They are not attainable for women like me, women who are proud of what they are and refuse to be called anything different.

Guys, just think for a minute about how you would feel if there was a great opportunity in your field that you thought was open to everyone and when you showed up for the first time they called you a woman.

If you feel that female engineering students should be more welcomed into this organization and referred to correctly, please let them know.

Write your concerns to the Theta Tau Central Office at 655 Craig Road, Suite 128, St. Louis, Missouri 63141-7168.

Sarah Stewart
Chemical engineering sophomore