Vital Signs

Mason v. Mason

The members of George Mason University's Sigma Chi fraternity had little reason to believe their annual "Dress a Sig" fundraising event was politically incorrect. To those present last April 4, the proceedings seemed innocuous if a bit raucous. Participating sororities paraded members of Sigma Chi in women's clothing across a stage, eliciting hoots and applause from the boisterous crowd of Greeks. Among the contestants was a "Sig" whose corresponding sorority had dressed him in blackface and strapped a pillow to his backside. After the men strutted their stuff, the audience voted for the "ugliest girl" in the bunch. The event helped to raise over one thousand dollars for the Cleo Wallace Center, a home for abused children.

It is doubtful that Sigma Chi or the cooperating sororities had racist or sexist intentions. With its 25 percent minority membership, Sigma Chi is one of the most integrated fraternities on campus. One of its members, Archibald Kao, of Oriental descent, is serving as the president of George Mason's student government. Gamma Phi Beta sorority, which dressed the fraternity member in blackface, has minority members in several leadership positions.

The Greeks could not have known they were inviting the wrath of George Mason University. The event had been approved by university officials, and the "Dress a Sig" contest of the previous year had been conducted...

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