Dartmouth sorority buckles to protests, cans Derby party
By Evan Lips | April 8, 2016, 21:08 EDT
HANOVER, N.H. – A Dartmouth College sorority, hit by protests that a May 2015 Kentucky Derby party was racist and a symbol of oppression, elected to pull the plug on this year’s event.
The sisters of Kappa Delta Epsilon voted overwhelmingly to ditch the celebration after talking to the protesters, The Dartmouth campus newspaper reported, citing sorority vice president Nikol Oydanich and president Allison Chou.
“Derby was a party that had the power to upset a lot of classmates,” Oydanich told the newspaper, adding that it drew on “pre-war southern culture.”
The first Kentucky Derby horse race actually did not predate the Civil War, occurring in 1875.
The sorority plans to replace the party with a Woodstock-themed event, honoring the legendary August 1969 music festival.
Last year the sorority’s Run for the Roses-themed event drew about 20 protesting party-crashers, including one student activist who lugged a bullhorn to the event and others who carried signs declaring their “black rage,” according to a report from The College Fix. The website said the party evoked an Antebellum South atmosphere with fancy hats and sundresses.
In a video shot during last year’s protest, activists hollered chants such as “What is Derby? It’s the face of genocide,” and held a die-in by lying in the street.
The protest took an unexpected turn when Frank Cunningham, a gay African American and the Student Assembly’s president and a party goer, confronted several protesters. Cunningham was reportedly upset that one protester called him a derogatory name “along the lines of an ‘Uncle Tom,’” according to a Daily Caller report.
Activists responded by launching a petition drive demanding that Cunningham resign.
Cunningham later apologized.