Discourse / Letters / October 23, 2013

“Win-a-Date” a repeated mistake with repressive connotations

As an alumna of the Knox College Greek Community and an alumnae advisor to two chapters of the Panhellenic organization of which I am a member, I must express my concern for the Kappa Kappa Gamma “Win a Date” fundraising event. Personally, I have witnessed the harm this event has caused to individual students in the Greek Community. On a larger scale, I find the event representative of a variety of forms of oppression against women and people of color. Knox is a community of individuals who often actively work against these systems of oppression and yet this event continues to be held.

The “Win a Date” event is reminiscent of slave auctions, the objectification of women and juvenile popularity contests — whichever way you slice it the event is harmful and problematic. Changing the name of the event from “Date Auction” to “Win a Date” and choosing a women’s organization as the beneficiary of the funds raised does not render these points irrelevant. I am sure I do not need to mention the various other ways a chapter can effectively raise funds for a beloved charitable organization. The “Win a Date” event taints the image of the Greek Community on campus and the Eta Kappa chapter beyond the Knox College community.

The college experience is a time for learning, discovery and growth. It is okay to be 20-something and, with good intentions, make a mistake. It is not okay to continue to make that mistake after peers, alumnae, and faculty have provided clear feedback that highlights multiple problems with this event. The appropriate way to handle such a mistake would be to own it, apologize, create an opportunity for learning and make a plan to do better in the future.

I have many dear friends who are alumnae of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and this is not an attack on the organization or Eta Kappa chapter. I strongly believe that when you care about someone or something, you push it to do better — even when it is unpopular or uncomfortable.  I hope that this letter sparks the Eta Kappa chapter and the Greek Community at Knox to consider the negative, isolating, problematic and oppressive nature of the well-intentioned “Win a Date” event. I implore you, Knox College Greek community and Eta Kappa to strive to do better and be a better representation of what is means to be Knox by abandoning this antiquated and dishonorable annual event.

Arianna Timko

Tags:  Eta Kappa feminism feminist Greek Kappa Kappa Gamma Knox College oppressive Win-a-Date

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