Playboy-Themed Register Cancelled

Cooper Josephs, Assistant News Editor

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“You’re surrounded by a bunch of bunnies, and no … you’re not at a petting zoo, you’re in the [Fraternity] Mansion.”

Before the bunnies hopped onto the dance floor, a student-led initiative forced Sigma Chi Fraternity to second-guess–and ultimately cancel–their Playboy-themed register. More than 150 students and faculty members petitioned the event in a letter addressed to the fraternity, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), and the Panhellenic Council (PHC).

“The letter had a huge impact on fraternity leadership,” Dean of Students Susan Lantz said.

The letter started as a Google document and rapidly gained publicity after continuously being shared by members of the campus community.

“We believe that this theme fuels the atmosphere of sexual assault that is already a severe problem on this campus … Requiring women to wear black tights and bunny ears in order to imitate porn stars simply goes too far,” the letter said.

The petition referenced a 2011 co-agreement between the IFC and PHC that banned themes deemed to be degrading to women to support their argument.

“We didn’t anticipate the letter to go viral. It did have an interesting effect, because the party was canceled before we officially sent it in,” petition initiator Justin Eyster ’17 said.

Eyster explained how reluctance originated from the Facebook event’s description, which required women to sport a sexually charged costume to gain entrance to the party; the party’s theme was not necessarily the problem.

“No man should force a woman to sexualize herself in order to get into his party … that’s what we had a problem with,” Eyster said.

Sigma Chi made the final decision to cancel its register.

“We believed changing only the theme undermined the situation and people’s efforts,” Sigma Chi President Michael Sahagian ’15 said.

The letter’s purpose was not to stifle sexuality or attack Sigma Chi.

“We did not intend to suppress a woman’s right to her own sexuality in any way whatsoever,” Eyster said.

Campus administration’s role was advisory.

“We wanted to have a chance to talk to the fraternity members about how this could affect the community … we did not cancel the party,” Lantz said.

Sahagian sees this as a learning experience and an opportunity for the Greek community to rise to the occasion. The fraternity plans to host a forum about campus climate in response to recent events.

“We are always looking for ways to better the community … I know change will happen,” Sahagian said.

While more thought should be put into themed parties to align more with egalitarian views, this event has spurred campus conversation, Associate Professor of Psychology Bill Flack said. 

“Frankly, I don’t think serious cultural change happens without people getting angry … this has produced conversation that might otherwise not have happened,” Flack said.

Flack referenced how social media, such as Yik Yak and Facebook, might be hindering the transparency of communication on campus.

“We need to communicate more openly and honestly than we do,” Flack said.

To view the petition letter and Sigma Chi President’s response to it, visit The Bucknellian’s website.

 

To view the petition letter, click here

 

To Sigma Chi President’s response, click here

 

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