Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Picture is Worth at Least a Thousand Words

The members of a sorority at Penn State University are learning that firsthand after a photo of members stereotyping Mexican immigrants went viral and put the chapter and national office in a public relations crisis. It’s caught the attention of The TODAY Show, Anderson Cooper and countless TV and newspaper outlets. What the women of this chapter likely thought was a carefree and funny moment, has no one laughing now. 

The women have expressed “deep remorse” according to the university and it’s likely they never meant to hurt anyone. The students admitted the photo didn’t reflect the values of their organization, but this photo is all some people may ever know about the group.

Delta Gamma’s heart goes out to the women of the national organization. This could have happened to any of us.

When we saw the photo making its way around the Internet, Delta Gamma Fraternity Council and EO staff stopped. There were a few ways we could handle this situation. We could ignore it; after all it wasn’t a Delta Gamma chapter that did it. We could address it closer to Halloween and use it as a proactive reminder to our women. Or, we could use this moment to teach our women about how a “fun” photo could damage or embarrass others.

A good rule of thumb: If you would be uncomfortable reading your statement or posting your photo on the front page of The Washington Post or the New York Times, you shouldn’t take the picture or write the post. Your words and photos make their way to millions via the Internet.

Delta Gamma has intelligent, charismatic, funny and wonderful women as part of its rich heritage and sisterhood. We love Delta Gamma and we want to protect it and our members. The Fraternity is only as strong as each member. Our decisions impact our sisters. Our thoughts and opinions are important. We want you to have fun, but not at the expense of others. Are we projecting our thoughts in a constructive way, a way that can bring about change for the good?

We are going to make mistakes. No one is expecting you to be perfect. Delta Gamma wants to give you the foundation you need, in order to make good choices on your own. We want you to understand that the actions could have global implications and that each time you chose to interact on social media, your words, actions and photos will be seen by millions. Are you posting quality content? Do your photos reflect who you are and what Delta Gamma stands for? Are you using words and phrases that reflect upon your character?

Delta Gamma challenges you to “Do Good.” It’s not an empty motto. It’s something we expect of every member right down to the bio you use on Twitter, the photo you take on Instagram, the blog you post on WordPress and status you write on Facebook. If you are a Delta Gamma; act like a Delta Gamma. Carry yourself with poise, charm, intelligence and class. Don’t swear and curse, don’t put down others and don’t retweet comments that are degrading to anyone. 

What you do one moment, just for laughs, could have immense repercussions down the road, for you and the Fraternity. Think before you post and act. “Do Good!”

For more information on how one university and even the United Nations are embracing cultural diversity and education visit these sites: http://www.ohio.edu/orgs/stars/Home.html