Sigma Chi Derby Days raises over $5,000 for charity

W&L students participate in Derby Days to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, but some of the activities involved have sparked recent controversy


W&L sorority members pose for a picture at Derby Days. Photo courtesy of Kappa Alpha Theta

Paige Williams

The Zeta Chapter of Sigma Chi hosted Sigma Chi Derby Days this past week, raising over $5,000 for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

Caleb Knight, president of the Washington and Lee chapter of Sigma Chi, said the charity event is hosted by chapters across the country.

The Zeta chapter hosts their version of the event every year at the Pole Houses and it is three days long. It consists of relay races and two days of inter-sorority flag football. The only guidelines for the event are that all funds must go to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

This charity was started by Jon Huntsman, a Sigma Chi. When he started it, he said the event must include a form of competition. In past years, Sigma Chi chapters from all over the country have donated over a million dollars to the foundation, Knight said. Last year, the Zeta chapter donated over $7,000 to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Knight said.

In years past, the Zeta chapter has raised the third most amount in the country.

As of Friday morning, the fraternity had raised about $5,000.

Knight said the Zeta chapter raises its funds through T-shirt sales, inter-sorority penny wars and online donations. They also sell food cooked by their house chef at the event.

The Derby Days flag football events have been under discussion in recent years due to the inter-sorority competition aspect.

Panhellenic Council met with Knight earlier this semester to discuss changes. “The changes have come because of a need to create a safer environment while retaining the fun atmosphere,” Knight said.

In an email to sorority presidents, Panhellenic Council President Anna Daccache said sororities were considering not participating in the event due to aggressive behavior and issues with drinking.

Daccache offered several points of advice to the freshmen participants.

“Being belligerent and trying to play flag football is not only a risk to yourself but also to other girls,” Daccache wrote in the email from the Panhellenic Council. “We are not trying to tell you what to do, we are just encouraging you that if you do choose to drink, do so in a smart and safe manner.”

She strongly advised against aggressive and drunken behavior during the games. She said last year, as a participant, she herself was hurt during the games and there were cases of serious injuries including a concussion.

She also mentioned the Panhellenic Council could fine sororities for participants that acted inappropriately and each sorority is supposed to have a standards meeting with members who are ejected from the game.

She advised participants to focus on the fundraising aspect of the competition and less on the competition itself.

Knight said all members of the Zeta chapter have been encouraged to help make the game safer and less aggressive.

“There should be no mention of ‘hydration points,’” Knight said, referring to the myth that teams get more points for consuming more alcohol.

Additionally, each of the six sororities is supposed to provide a sober referee for the games.

However, as of Thursday’s games, no sorority provided a referee. This forced the Zeta chapter to last minute provide one themselves.

Daccache was unable to comment on the changes because she was abroad during the event.