Almost half of the members of the Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority at Tufts University in Massachusetts have quit the chapter in order to protest the exclusion of a transgender woman from the chapter. National headquarters for the sorority found out that the potential recruit, given the name “Samantha” to protect her identity, was transgender and prohibited her from joining the chapter at Tufts as soon as she was offered a big. Samantha was unanimously extended a bid to join the sorority but the national headquarters for the sorority halted that decision.
Once the other members of the sorority found out about this, they began to quit the chapter in order to show their solidarity with Samantha. As of right now, 46 members of the chapter at Tufts have decided to quit.
The exclusionary action on the part of AOPi’s national headquarters prompted the university’s chapter and its higher-ups at Tufts to release a statement, which can be found in the tweet below.
We have issued a public statement in response to the recent events in our chapter:https://t.co/6ucsyWSNS6
— AOII at Tufts (@AOIITufts) November 8, 2016
In the statement, the group claims that they were at first hesitant to offer the bid to Samantha because they were afraid that offering a bid to a transgender woman would violate the conditions of the Title IX exemption. Title IX dictates that no one can be excluded from an educational program or activity based on sex. Sororities fall under the Title IX exemption which allows them to exist as all female-identifying organizations. Officials eventually said that offering a bid to Samantha would not violate their exemption and apologized for their hesitation.
The letter ended with the chapter saying that they, and Greek life in general, still “struggle with Whiteness, privilege, classism, heteronormativity, transphobia, among other issues.” They also said that they are committed to improving their own chapter and the Greek system at large.
It’s unfortunate that this situation happened. Hopefully, they will take this as a learning experience and strive to be a more inclusive institution, for everyone’s sake.