In my many years serving Alpha Omicron Pi, I’ve never faltered in my profound belief in our one red team.
That is why it is so painful for me to come to you today with the news that our Executive Board has made the incredibly difficult decision to withdraw the charter of our Sigma chapter at UC Berkeley.
AOII’s relationship with its collegiate chapters is a partnership. Like the expectations a university may have of its students to attend its classes and abide by its code of conduct, or a country’s expectations of its citizens to abide by its laws, our organization has expectations too. And we only receive the benefits of membership when we uphold the responsibilities of membership.
The challenges initiated by an 11-year dispute over the compliance of the Sigma chapter facility, where AOII repeatedly reiterated that the local house corporation would retain ownership of the house, uncovered a painful reality - the chapter’s unwillingness to be a true and faithful partner.
Over the past several months we have made it clear that the consequence of disregarding our organization’s expectations could lead to this point, and the chapter has made it equally clear that they were unwilling to fulfill those expectations.
We continued to support the chapter by finding new locations for chapter meetings and events and in working with a local real estate broker to find new property for the chapter. We had hoped that we could overcome the challenges in their path together, as partners. It was terribly disheartening to realize that this was no longer possible.
No one wanted this chapter to lose its charter. No one wanted to disassociate from the chapter facility. No one wanted to make our Sigma sisters’ lives difficult or cause them any pain. But it is a fact of life that challenges will crop up, and being a part of something greater than yourself – like an organization of hundreds of thousands of women across a continent – requires partnership and cooperation.
While we could spend weeks debating every detail that led to this decision, and participate in the sometimes vicious speculation that swirls on social media, none of that would honor our ritual and our principles. None of that would benefit our greater good.
We ask for your love and compassion towards our grieving Sigma sisters, and for everyone who has been a part of this gut-wrenching decision. We look forward to welcoming the chapter back when they are truly ready to commit to the responsibilities and expectations of membership. Thank you for your time.
Gayle Fitzpatrick, Alpha Rho (Oregon State U)