KDE Derby theme changes after last year’s protest

by Sonia Qin | 4/6/16 6:58pm

KDE will change the theme of its spring party to Woodstock instead of Derby.
by Tiffany Zhai / Tiffany Zhai/The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Members of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority voted almost unanimously to change the theme of its annual invite-only party from Derby to Woodstock on Tuesday evening. This change comes roughly a year after the protest at both Derby and Alpha Chi Alpha’s annual Pigstick party last May, at which around 20 Dartmouth students demonstrated against police brutality toward people of color.

KDE president Allison Chou ’17 said the theme change from Derby to Woodstock represents the mission and values of the house. Chou said over 96 percent of KDE members voted in favor of the change and just under 4 percent voted against it.

“We want to be positive contributors to campus climate and campus conversations around really important issues like race and class,” Chou said. “This is one actionable step that we as a whole house have voted on and are planning on taking to fulfill that role as positive contributors to campus.”

KDE vice president Nikol Oydanich ’17 said that after speaking to last year’s protestors as well as individuals in the Afro-American Society, the sorority wanted to change the theme because of its racial connotations.

“[It is] related to pre-war southern culture,” she said. “Derby was a party that had the power to upset a lot of our classmates.”

Chou said the protest offered KDE the opportunity to reflect on what it stands for and the inconsistencies between Derby and the sorority’s values.

The current KDE executive board prioritized the Derby theme change as soon as they took up their positions this spring, Oydanich said.

The eight core executive members held a house-wide meeting Tuesday night and presented their case for the change. The house then held a short question-and-answer period before sending out a survey to members present at the meeting, who had an hour to vote for either Derby or Woodstock.

“The house was overwhelmingly supportive of the decision to discontinue Derby and change it to Woodstock,” Oydanich said, adding that there was no vocal opposition toward the theme change.

Oydanich said that Woodstock, the new theme of the spring event, is more related to the ideas of peace, music and love associated with its namesake festival.

Jehanna Axelrod ’17, a KDE social chair, said that last year’s protest was the main impetus behind the change.

“We realized that if anyone on campus felt uncomfortable or upset with the theme, then we obviously shouldn’t have it,” she said.

Norris Kadet ’17, also a social chair, said that the party at its core will remain the same.

Chou said the new theme will minimize any offense to sisters within the house and peers across campus.

Oydanich said that since KDE is a local sorority, it can make decisions that directly reflect its members values without answering to a national board.

KDE is currently under social probation by the College, and this year’s Woodstock event will be dry.

Joyce Lee contributed reporting to the story.