More than 90 percent of Penn’s Alpha Epsilon chapter of Alpha Chi Omega is expected to resign before the semester ends, according to estimates by chapter members.
Sisters have been told that they cannot revoke the chapter’s charter with the University unless they have a unanimous vote. Because a few members have expressed interest in remaining in the chapter, the rest of the members have to officially deactivate in order to lose their individual affiliation with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
The final straw for some of the sorority members was an email sent to them by the national branch of Alpha Chi Omega comparing an underground sorority to a knockoff Tory Burch handbag, which lacks the “same credibility” as a real one.
“The email turned a lot of girls off even further. Nationals didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into when they were dealing with our chapter,” said one member, who chose to remain anonymous because she is finalizing her resignation from the chapter.
Last week, leaders of the sorority were looking to revoke the chapter’s charter because of the seemingly harsh sanctions from OFSL, including social probation for the next two years. The sorority was found in violation of Penn’s policy on drinking and drug use after a Penn student’s parent allegedly called the University about a drinking event, according to sorority members. The chapter also violated the sanction placed on them to not communicate with new members while they were under investigation.
National representatives held a meeting with members this weekend, but only two out of AXO’s 201 affiliated Penn members attended. Prior to the meeting, Nationals said it would consider any members who did not attend to be resigning from the sorority. Later, the national chapter said sisters could still choose to remain affiliated even if they did not attend the meeting, so the exact number of chapter members that will resign has yet to be finalized.
Members have estimated that under 10 women plan to remain in the chapter. Though plans have not been solidified, resigning members have said that the remaining AXO sisters will likely recruit in the fall. Though under probation, the chapter would bring AXO representatives from other campuses to help the recruiting process.
Resigning members plan to continue operating as an off-campus organization and will look to unofficially recruit new members in the fall semester, similar to the off-campus society, Tabard.
There are currently no students signed on to live in the chapter’s University-owned house. Penn was expected to earn nearly $170,000 in rent and $30,000 in other fees in the upcoming fiscal year from residents. The national branch’s current plan is to fill the house with AXO alumnae living and working in Philadelphia, a chapter member said.
“The rest of the semester is kind of just making up for the lost time with the freshmen,” one member said. “That’s kind of where this all broke down is that we wanted to move forward with the freshman activities and we weren’t able to under the restrictions.” Sisters hosted their Big Little Week last week, and hope to conduct more activities with the freshmen before the semester ends.
On April 6, more than 85 percent of the chapter voted against agreeing to University requirements in order to remain affiliated with OFSL. They demanded that chapter members complete Penn’s First Step alcohol education program, that the entire executive board resign and that sisters abstain from engaging in any social events, including those without alcohol, for the next two years.
“We remain committed to Penn’s vibrant fraternity/sorority community and hope Alpha Chi Omega will remain an active Panhellenic chapter. [Office of the Vice Provost for University Life] staff is working closely with the sorority’s headquarters on this situation,” OFSL Director Scott Reikosfky said in a statement on April 8, adding that he cannot comment on the disciplinary process.
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