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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Oct 23, 2013

The PC police strike again…

Oct 24, 2013

Wow, this kind of PC garbage is what is wrong with the country, same a a slave auction? I hardly know what to say to someone who thinks like this. If you want to fight the newest form of slavery in this country, then fight against the Drug War, or the Massive increase in the number of crimes that are felonies instead of misdemeanors of Sin, The enormous increases of bail and fines that create de-facto indentured servitude, or even the Idiotic expansion of Sex Offender Laws. all of these create citizens with a diminished future but Win a Date? You need to start working on things that are destroying lives everyday, not things that might offend someone.


    Oct 24, 2013

    If you would like to discuss my political activism concerning prison abolition and racism and my extensive and ongoing experience working against violence against women, I am open to the discussion. It is narrow minded and presumptuous of you to assume this is the one issue I care about- but yes, I do feel strongly about any event or tradition that directly or indirectly maintains systems of oppression and the objectification of women.

Oct 24, 2013

I lost all respect for you when you decided to compare Kappa Win A Date to a slave auction.

Oct 25, 2013

As the Philanthropy Chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma for the first
Date Auction in 2007 we went through and addressed all of your concerns with both the administration and the individual Greek organizations. We answered all questions and explained why we chose this event. We also pointed out that ABLE hosted a similar event the year before, which is where the idea came from. I would hope that in today’s age we can look past the history of an idea
and retool it for a greater purpose. I do not know of the “harm” you have witnessed from this event, but I do know that we set aside separate funds to ensure that no one would feel unpopular during the event. Happily we didn’t even need to because the campus and members of the Greek organizations enthusiastically placed bids raising even more money for a worthy cause in the process. I understand that not everyone can see past the political correctness, but I believe your concerns would be more effective if you were to raise them to current Kappa Kappa Gamma members or within your own Greek organization. If the idea behind the “Win-A-Date” is so unappealing to the student body then it will eventually fizzle out. Until then, it has been an event that includes not just the Greek community but encourages the rest of the student body to participate in a meaningful fundraiser.

    Oct 25, 2013

    Thank you for your response Leslie. I have personally experienced members of my own Greek organization crying of hurt and embarassment after being “auctioned”, felt personally very uncomfortable while students who did not adhere to traditional american standards of beauty were bid on for significantly less money than their peers, and heard significantly disturbing comments on the part of students who feel they are entitled to or owed sex and other favors from the students they “bought”. I have also worked as a greek advisor at two large universities who do not utilize date auctions as fundraisers for many of the points i have articulated here. I don’t believe people are to be bought, sold, or owned- even for a night, even for a good cause. I hope that this response is not indicative of the reaction a current student organization woud recieve should any ever consider opting out of the event.

      Nov 13, 2013

      I hope people read the comments online, because that information drives the editorial home.

Oct 28, 2013

Whether or not you agree with the writer I would hope that at Knox we would know how to respond respectfully. Even if you disagree with Arianna, the fact is that she’s sharing her thoughts in an effort to create a helpful discourse, which is necessary to create any sort of change. We should be creating and maintaining an environment that encourages people to speak out when they feel uncomfortable or are questioning certain norms and events. I don’t, for the most part, agree with Arianna, but I respect her asking us to take a moment to think about things.

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