UC Berkeley sororities will not participate in Sigma Chi’s fundraising event

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Zainab Ali/File

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In light of recent sexual misconduct allegations against Sigma Chi, the UC Berkeley Panhellenic Council, or PHC, announced in a statement released Feb. 26, that it will abstain from participating in an annual philanthropic event sponsored by Sigma Chi.

Derby Days, a fundraiser event held by each chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity, has historically relied on support from members of the Greek community, including sororities, according to a guide about Derby Days constructed by the international Sigma Chi fraternity.

“We recognize that our power to influence the behavior of fraternities largely comes from our participation in their events,” the PHC said in the statement. “Therefore, the Panhellenic Council has decided to abstain from participating in Sigma Chi’s annual event, Derby Days.”

The original Derby Days started at the UC Berkeley chapter of Sigma Chi in 1933 under the name “Channingway Derby.” Derby Days consists of various events to raise funds for research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, according to the local Sigma Chi chapter’s website.

“The notoriety of Derby Days gives Sigma Chi social capital that we fear has worked to exempt them from the ramifications of their behavior,” the PHC statement read. “By revoking our participation, we deny them this social capital.”

The PHC acknowledged in the statement that Derby Days often raise money for Camp Kesem — an organization dedicated to supporting children who have been affected by a parent’s cancer diagnosis — and pledged to donate to the organization “on a chapter-by-chapter basis,” instead of through Sigma Chi.

According to Marisa Yang, co-director of Camp Kesem, the organization does not partake in planning or hosting of Derby Days and only acts as a beneficiary of the fundraising event. Yang added that this year, Camp Kesem will be exempt from Derby Days and that Camp Kesem has not been in contact with the chapter members since 2017.

The Interfraternity Council, which governs campus fraternities, announced Feb. 27 that the campus chapter of Sigma Chi was placed on social probation, which prohibits the chapter from sponsoring, attending or participating in Greek social functions, according to the IFC constitution.

Michael Church, the executive director of the Sigma Chi international fraternity, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The PHC declined to comment.

Francesca Munsayac is the lead race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fcfm_dc.

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