Mar 28, 2012 0
By Kristine “Sumitra” Aguilan, Staff Writer
With the explosive popularity of social networking and media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube, viral videos and Internet memes (i.e. concepts) spread like wildfire from one side of the globe to the other. Insults, name-calling and crude behavior have become popular topics and are shared to spread the so-called hilarity. One example is the spread of “Shit [blank] Says,” in which a gender, race or both would be featured and then poked at for fun. Unfortunately, Illinois State University’s Delta Phi Lambda chapter became a small target of this Internet joke culture.
As seen in the screen capture to the right, the title of this video is “Sh*t Nobody Says at ISU” and in it, the student is holding the Delta Phi Lambda rush flyer while proceeding to say, “There’s [sic] so many hot girls in my Calc III class.” Because Delta Phi Lambda is the only Asian-interest sorority on ISU’s campus, it gives the impression that the stereotype of Asians having strong skills in mathematics would place them in this class, effectively making Asians “not hot,” since it is considered the reverse of what ISU students would say. In essence, not only are Asian girls good at math, they are not good-looking.
Because it gained such popularity on Facebook quickly, ISU alumna Bernice “Ribbons” Yambao caught sight of the video and was understandably upset about its controversial commentary. “It’s only funny when it’s generic stuff, but I caught it real quick.” She and fellow alumna, Kristen “Blossom” Lee, emailed the University Greek Council. Upon bringing this to the attention of President Whitney “Airyn” Newton, she stated: “We [also] contacted Panhellenic and Greek Affairs once we saw it. […] I received an email response within several days, explaining that actions cannot be taken against the creators of the video.”
Thank you for the email. I have reviewed the material in the YouTube video and based on the link you sent me and after reviewing the material there is nothing actionable at this time. The material in the video is protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a result, the University has no commentary on this video, and will not seek to have the video taken down, nor take disciplinary action against the students involved. Whitney, I know that this can be frustrating, so I encourage you to come in and speak with me regarding this video and how the Greek community can potentially address this situation. [...] Thanks again.
The sisters of the ISU chapter did their best in a situation that spiraled out of control – in time, they knew to speak with their University’s Greek Affairs council members and they joined focus groups with other fraternities and sororities to help develop the Greek community in a better light. Eventually, an Internet meme dies away, fading after its “15 minutes of fame” are finally up. The Internet, in its own fashion, is a big bully – it will continue to spout hurtful commentaries in different formats until it finds another victim to hound. How do you feel your chapter would handle a situation like this? Would you resort to “the Internet’s” dirty tactics or continue the professionalism we strive to demonstrate in everything endeavor the sorority undertakes?