In an effort to align Derby Days — the Psi Chapter of Sigma Chi’s annual philanthropy — with the Inter-Sorority Council’s goals of “inclusivity, sisterhood, service, and women’s empowerment,” the ISC 10 tangible changes to the week-long event. Every spring, sorority chapters around Grounds participate in a series of competitive events in an effort to win Derby Days and cosign the donation Sigma Chi makes to the Children’s Miracle Network and U.Va. Children’s Hospital. While the philanthropy has been immensely successful — raising over $100,000 in the past four years — some aspects serve only to divide women in the Greek community. Sigma Chi should modify Derby Days to reflect the ISC’s proposals in an effort to make the philanthropy more financially impactful and inclusive.
While several of the changes focus on particular events within Derby Days, most of them target the structure of the philanthropy as a whole — primarily its financial efficacy. In its first proposal, the ISC calls for a greater focus on fundraising. Certain events have no bearing on the amount raised for the Children’s Hospital, and the ISC has requested that these events be modified to include a philanthropic component or be wholly replaced. Sigma Chi can make these modifications without sacrificing the competitive spirit of the events — an important component of Derby Days.
The competitive aspect of Derby Days has the potential to create an exciting atmosphere. Positive competition, where participants focus on improving their own standing as opposed to degrading that of others, can lead to greater community engagement and financial success. The ISC’s ninth proposal — removing negative points in the — would support this positive atmosphere. Sigma Chi should be invested in making this change because each team would put more effort into their own performance instead of trying to undermine that of other teams.
If Sigma Chi wants to expand their philanthropy’s reach, it should open participation to the entire University community, not just to ISC members. The ISC’s third proposal suggests inclusion of the Inter-Fraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and Contracted Independent Organizations. Including these other organizations on Grounds would increase the financial reach of this philanthropic event. Opening Derby Days to these groups would help Sigma Chi accomplish its goal of creating an “inclusive and empowering experience for all participants.”
Another effective change Sigma Chi should make to Derby Days is a shift from an opt-out policy to an opt-in policy. As the ISC states in its second proposal, “not participating in Derby Days alienates a chapter from the rest of the ISC community.” With effective promotion leading up to the philanthropy, an opt-in structure would maintain high engagement within the Greek community and would ensure all teams are fully invested in the week’s events. If Sigma Chi decides not to adopt an opt-in policy, it should at least provide accessible resources on ways to withdraw. Derby Days should focus on inviting to teams that want to participate without isolating those that wish to stay removed.
In a to the ISC’s letter, Sigma Chi acknowledged the importance of making tangible changes to Derby Days. In addition, the response mentioned the lucrative success Derby Days has seen over the past four years. Not only would the ISC’s proposals improve cohesion in the University community, they would also lead to financial gains for the Children’s Hospital — most of the proposals are aimed at bolstering the philanthropic aspect of Derby Days. Requiring social media posts to include donation links and opening participation to other student organizations would increase Derby Days’ impact in the community.
Derby Days has greatly influenced the University community. With these proposals in mind, Sigma Chi has the opportunity to expand that impact, both financially and culturally. The philanthropic support Derby Days has given to the Children’s Hospital demonstrates the fraternity’s commitment to supporting the community — implementing these changes would only further that commitment. We urge Sigma Chi to modify Derby Days in ways that support the ISC’s proposals.
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