November 9, 2016
Dear AOII Council Members,
Many of you may have seen recent social media posts or news stories surrounding a transgender woman seeking membership into AOII at Tufts University and, supposedly, the chapter losing several women over this situation. Many of the stories published contained statements that were inaccurate and we, along with NPC, have successfully encouraged the media to post corrections. Additional stories have been picked up by other media outlets. We would like to briefly clarify the situation to members of AOII Council. Please feel free to share this with your chapter members.
Our Delta Chapter at Tufts University was placed on monitoring for chapter operations last spring and the chapter was not happy about this decision. This fall, members wished to pledge a transgender woman and sought guidance from the network and AOII Headquarters. The initial response from AOII was that we needed further clarification as to whether the student was eligible for membership consideration and how it might affect our Title IX status as a single-sex organization. Despite the request to wait for clarification, the chapter immediately voted to offer the student a bid. Within one day, legal and informational clarification determined that our Title IX status was not in jeopardy and the student was eligible for membership. The Fraternity promptly notified the chapter that this young woman could move forward in our New Member program. Contrary to some reports, at no time was the chapter or any member threatened with disciplinary action or a law suit.
AOII is the only Greek organization at Tufts that actually extended a bid to this student and welcomed her into membership. She participated in our New Member program for 3 weeks and attended events and meetings. While she ultimately decided to leave the chapter with a group of about 40+ members, she maintains a good relationship with the remaining Delta sisters who chose to remain true to Delta and AOII. The media is focusing on this situation as the catalyst that has caused the rift at Delta, but the disgruntled feelings of some members and operational issues existed prior to this.
The larger issue is one that AOII finds ourselves in the company of NPC and 23 NPC organizations still seeking to develop a thoughtful resolution with respect to transgender women participating in recruitment. It is our goal to respond rather than to react and to do so with an appropriate message based on thorough research and objectivity. To meet this goal, we are currently putting together a task force from a cross section of our members and outside subject matter experts to research this topic.
The AOII Executive Board
Gayle Fitzpatrick, Alpha Rho, International President
Susan Bonifield, Nu Beta, Vice President of Finance
Crystal Combs, Nu Beta, Vice President
Amber Countis, Pi, Vice President
Susan Danko, Phi Upsilon, Vice President
Grace Houston, Lambda Tau, Vice President
Jessie Wang-Grimm, Phi Chi, Vice President
Krista Whipple, Omega, Vice President
Allison Allgier, Epsilon Omega, Past International President