Saturday, May 21, 2011

Copy of 2nd Appeal Letter Sent to HQ

May 11, 2011

Alpha Omicron Pi International Headquarters
5390 Virginia Way
Brentwood, TN 37027

To the Members of the Constitution Interpretation and Revision Committee,

Please allow this letter to serve as notice that the sisters of Tau Lambda wish to appeal the Panel’s decision to remove our charter.

Although contradictory, we found the letter provided by the Panel useful. We made numerous attempts to reach out to anyone who could assist in educating the us on the actual infractions and probationary periods, which resulted in the Chapter’s charter revocation, including our Network Specialists, Network Directors, and even Meghan Granito – the Assistant Director of Chapter Services. The Panel’s letter was the only time we have been able to identify the specific issues the Chapter faced or any sort of timeline reflective of the relevant infractions in question. Ironically, the Panel believed the AAC should have communicated the probationary terms to the Chapter. Although, when AOII was asked, AOII did not provide the necessary information to our AAC so they could have better assisted the Chapter.

Our Chapter, and the AAC were also not made aware of the potential ramifications. The current Network Specialist, Kelly O'Dwyer-Manuel visited the Chapter for Officer Transition, at which she time met with our officers, and held a meeting with our AAC in November 2010. If the Chapter was truly in jeopardy, we feel she should have made mention at that time. There were new members of AAC present for their first meeting, who were not aware of the probation or probationary terms or the ramifications of the Chapter’s status. It would have been helpful for her to sit down with all the Sisters and explain the seriousness of the situation, including the possible repercussions. It was not until March 2011 when planning our Alumnae Reunion Weekend that she alluded to our AAC the fact that Tau Lambda could be in serious trouble.

We continue to be unaware of any previous infractions, and we believe that those incidents in the past did not lead to the Panel or the Executive Board’s decision. Since the letter only lists five issues since April 2010, we are forced to believe these are the only factors were taken into consideration. It would seem unfair for the Panel or Executive Board to make such an important decision based in a past bias or judge based on other reasons not fully disclosed.

The incidents noted in the letter seem harsh to warrant such extreme measures as to remove a charter. The letter stated that Shippensburg “is struggling with problems involving alcohol and hazing. This is something that Tau Lambda has been challenged with as well.” The only issues identified in the Panel’s findings were those related to alcohol. It is not documented that Tau Lambda has a concern of hazing; therefore, we believe it is unfair to make the assumption that hazing took place.

The Panel’s recommendations to Headquarters to re-evaluate procedures regarding the process of placing chapters on monitoring terms supports our assertion that there is a lack of communication for which AOII is responsible. We believe that the Chapter was not properly guided, informed, or given tools to assist and help them overcome the challenges they faced.

We wish to address each issue and tell why we believe that the harsh decision of removal is not supported.

1. The first incident where alcohol was found in the AOII house was April 16-19, 2010 by a Network Volunteer. The alcohol belonged to a recent graduate and measures were taken including dis-associating one sister with the Chapter. This situation was handled accordingly and was the action of one person, rather than the entire group.
2. Possible recruitment infractions regarding Facebook invitations sent in September 9, 2011 is an issue our AAC was not aware. We ask what type of awareness regarding social network was provided by AOII? We all live in a society overtaken by technology and online security is an ongoing concern. College women can be potential targets of stalking, bullying, and identity theft. Our organization should foresee these risks and address them to all collegiate chapters.
3. The reference to “Bid Day” is vague, thus another incident where our AAC was not properly made aware.
4. We believe the November 11 alcohol incident was noted as isolated, therefore it should not have had any weight when determining the future of the entire Chapter.
5. We understand, and agree that, the February 19 alcohol violation is severe. There can be no negligence made for this situation and the Chapter should by all means be charged for noncompliance of the Standards of AOII and Shippensburg University. The Chapter should be held accountable for the poor judgment portrayed in this situation. There should be a strict plan set forth for Tau Lambda, as the Chapter should be made aware that failure to comply, at that time, should result in the removal of their charter.

Due to the lack of support the Chapter received, and because two of these are isolated issues, the last violation is the real concern. Revoking the charter based on the one issue seems to be Headquarters giving up on Tau Lambda. We would like to propose the Chapter be responsible to provide alcohol awareness programs for the entire campus, set Risk Management guidelines for all members in order to keep their current status, and setting a zero tolerance for alcohol. These improvements would benefit not only the Chapter, but Shippensburg University and Greek Life as well.

We have appointed a committee led by Alyssa Morgan, with the help of Emily Wiker, and Keleigh Neyhart. These sisters will ensure that the Chapter stays focused and they will be used as liaisons between AOII, Shippensburg, our Alumnae, and the AAC. These women have committed they would be responsible for implementing our action plan and providing feedback along the way.

We have a strong AAC of 12 members, who hold regular meetings via conference call, communicate with the Chapter and advisees on a regular basis. They have attended our weekly Chapter meetings and made a strong presence at all of our events. We do not feel that it is an issue many of them live more than 40 minutes away. With current means of communication including cell phones, laptops, email, and easy access to video conferencing, it is easy for us to reach out to them and they can be notified of situations as soon as they arise. We know we have a strong group of alumnae and AAC. The Panel noted this in their letter. The outpouring of support we have received from Sisters and Alumna shows the passion we all have for the Tau Lambda Chapter.

Rather than AOII consider opening new chapters, please do all you can to help the current ones. We already have a group of over 400 Sisters and Alumnae from Shippensburg who show a strong commitment to AOII.

Oftentimes, when faced with a difficult situation, it is important to take a step back, re-analyze, and ask yourself what you did to help or what you would have done differently? We understand there are some issues that Tau Lambda needs to be responsible for, but we are doing all we can to make amends. We encourage AOII to take a more active role in helping and improving the Tau Lambda Chapter. The Shippensburg AOII organization made mistakes. We hope AOII can take an honest look and ask how they have helped… and ask what could they do to make it better?

Fraternally Yours,

The Sisters of Tau Lambda Alpha Omicron Pi Chapter
Shippensburg University

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