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Community, not chapter house, determines chapter's character

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AUGUST 28, 2015

As an alumna of Sigma, or UC Berkeley, chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, I am writing on behalf of many of my sisters — both alumnae and collegiate — concerned that the Aug. 13 story entitled “Alpha Omicron Pi chapter house loses recognition” could be misunderstood by those who are not familiar with Greek terminology.

There is a difference between the “chapter,” which is the local AOII entity to which our members belong, and the “chapter house” — the building in which they live and hold events. This is an important distinction because the chapter is not in any trouble, and their standing with AOII International and the University of California is not in jeopardy. They have been on the campus of UC Berkeley for over 100 years, and are committed to being productive and active members of UC Berkeley’s Panhellenic and campus community.

It is simply the physical house that they live in — and will continue to live in — that is subject to this business dispute. If AOII International insists on moving forward with not recognizing the facility, two things will happen: the Greek letters “alpha,” “omicron” and “pi” will be removed from the front of the house at 2311 Prospect Ave., and the members may not be able to hold official chapter events on the property. They will, however, still be AOIIs.

It’s important to note that many fraternity and sorority chapters across the country, as well as some at UC Berkeley, do not have houses. They hold meetings and other events on campus or in other locations. Their brotherhoods and sisterhoods are not weaker because they do not have meetings in their houses. The business of the chapters is just held elsewhere, as is the case for other student groups.

Women who choose to become AOIIs during this upcoming recruitment will have the same opportunity as members of the 15 National Panhellenic Council sororities at UC Berkeley to live in home. Sigma 1916 — the AOII alumnae-led organization that owns and operates the property — will continue to take care of our house as they always have.

We sincerely hope that AOII International will rethink its decision to strip the physical house of its letters. In the end, the Sigma chapter of AOII, and in fact any chapter, is about more than its letters. It is about the love, respect and caring that the members feel for each other.

Christianne Harder is a digital strategist at the United States Soccer Federation, and a 2004 alumna of UC Berkeley. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

AUGUST 27, 2015