Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Appeal Decision

May 3, 2011
Tau Lambda Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi
Shippensburg University
19 North Earl Street
Shippensburg, PA 17257-1203

Dear Sisters,
The panel for your chapter closure hearing on April 28, 2011, has reached a decision. During the proceedings, we heard from 22 advisers, volunteers, chapter members and community members who shared views on your case. We also read the extensive information provided, including the 51 letters advocating for your chapter and the signed petition.

After hearing and reviewing all of the evidence, the panel determined to uphold the Executive Board decision to remove Tau Lambda’s Charter.
This was a very difficult decision, particularly with your passion and commitment to our Fraternity. You should be commended for the progress you made in the areas of Ritual, Philanthropy, Scholarship and Recruitment. Alumnae and AAC members cited many examples of how far you have come as a sisterhood, and those gifts will last you a lifetime.

However, a chapter cannot be successful without serious commitment to Risk Management and Standards. It was clear through our interviews that the current culture of the Shippensburg campus, and in particular the Greek Community, is struggling with problems involving alcohol and hazing. This is something Tau Lambda has been challenged with as well.

From April 2010 to the present, the following incidents took place with the chapter which put the chapter and AOII in a negative light:
1) April 16-19 2010: Alcohol was discovered in the AOII house by a Network Volunteer.
2) September 9, 2010: Fraternity/Sorority Adviser contacted AOII about recruitment infractions involving Facebook invitations and parties taking place before school starts.
3) Bid Day: Two alumnae brought alcohol into the AOII house and many chapter members did not cooperate with ELC to address the issue
4) November 11: Alcohol incident involving a new member (which later was determined to be an isolated incident)
5) February 19: Alcohol violation occurs at an AOII house party where the Chapter President and VP-Standards were in attendance.

Your chapter was allowed multiple probation periods over 5 years to help overcome this campus culture and develop a strong AOII chapter. This may not have been in the best interest of the chapter, since it was shared in the interviews that the chapter as a whole didn’t understand what probation meant nor what the consequences would be. Considering that several sororities were on status with the University or their Headquarters at the time of the hearing, it can reinforce the idea that there are no consequences for being in a probationary status on this campus. Even so, based on the outpouring of support, the panel considered alternatives to closing, including conducting a membership review to keep members who could best reflect AOII values. However, it would take more supervision at the local level by alumnae, and all but one AAC member lives more than 40 minutes away. In addition, issues were noted with lack of communication between the AAC, LC and the chapter body regarding probation terms and potential ramifications. This is something the AAC should have ensured took place as officers changed from year to year.

Combining the lack of local alum support with a campus environment that is struggling with risk management, the panel could not in good conscience recommend an extension of the Probation Terms. The current decision is in the best interest of the safety of our current members and reflects consistency in AOII’s approach to risk management across the Fraternity.

As a result of the panel proceedings, we recommend Headquarters re-evaluate current procedures on placing chapters on monitoring and probation for better engagement of chapters:
- Communication delivering the terms should include language that states the ramifications for failure to meet the terms, whether it is escalation to probationary status or (if on probation) that the chapter could be closed.
- If Probation notification cannot be conducted in person, consider sending an e-mail to all members in the chapter to ensure notification.
- Networks could consider hosting a conference call with chapter members to answer questions about Monitoring Status, Probation Status or the terms.

Within 14 days following receipt of this letter, you may appeal in writing the decision of the panel to the Constitution Interpretation and Revision Committee. The appeal is in default after 14 days and the action of the panel stands pursuant to Title II, Article XIV, Section 4 of the Bylaws of Alpha Omicron Pi.

We were impressed by the sincere and candid comments made to the panel. Out of this unfortunate situation, there are opportunities for all members and volunteers involved to reflect on our Ritual and embrace the lifelong benefits AOII offers. We hope to see AOII return to Shippensburg in the future when the environment can better support our Tau Lambda Chapter.

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