This week, members of the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) Alpha Epsilon Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania decided to disassociate themselves from the Greek system with the intentions of forming a new, unaffiliated philanthropic organization. While Alpha Chi Omega will continue to exist on Penn’s campus, a majority of the current members will no longer be affiliated. The motives behind our decision to disaffiliate are predominantly rooted in maintaining the structure of our philanthropy as well as our hope to thrive in a setting that the current Greek environment on campus does not support.
We had considered removing ourselves from Greek life in past years due to our dissatisfaction with some aspects of the structure and the inherent inequality of the system. Sororities are not permitted to host on campus parties like fraternities, in addition to being pigeon–holed into a tightly scheduled and regulated recruitment process while fraternities are given the flexibility and freedom to create their own system. These are examples of structural sexism in the Greek community. Despite many of our initial apprehensions to joining Greek life, we found a home amongst the vibrant, driven, and welcoming individuals that make up the sisterhood of 3906 Spruce Street, which made the oppressive aspects of Greek life easier to overlook. In addition, this fall we were told that, with its current structure, we would never again be allowed to host our annual philanthropy event, Big Man On Campus (BMOC), that raises over $18,000 for Philadelphia’s only emergency women’s shelter. However, other campus organizations, both Greek and non–Greek, continue to hold events extremely similar to ours without being challenged. By disbanding our Greek membership, we intend to host this event and support the women’s shelter to the successful extent that we had as AXO members in the past.
More recently, six days after welcoming our new pledge class in January 2015, we began cooperating in an investigation conducted by the University against our organization. This process was inefficient, prolonged and incredibly damaging to our organization’s morale. The document that we received, months later, with our suggested punishments stated that we were found guilty of alcohol possession and consumption at a sorority event. While we acknowledge and apologize for violating the University's and AXO National's policies on alcohol, the punishments we received were equal in severity to punishments received by organizations who were found guilty of far worse crimes, such as hazing. More importantly, the sanctions outlined a future for our organization that would significantly damage the strong and incredible bonds we have all established.
VPUL’s webpage on Greek life promises that “Fraternities and sororities offer leadership opportunities that can challenge and prepare you for whatever your future holds.” We are incredibly grateful to the University and our former national organization for the support they have given us in the past by initially bringing us together and laying the foundation for our future friendships. It's because of the strong bonds we have already formed with one another that we are confident that we will continue to strengthen our sisterhood outside of the Greek system and use our shared passion for philanthropy to continue raising money and awareness for domestic violence. We hope that the Penn community continues to support us as the female leaders that have always existed beneath the letters that we no longer wear.
Former Members of Alpha Chi Omega
Read one former AXO freshman's personal story of her experiences with OFSL and what it means to go off campus. Also see more coverage on Alpha Chi Omega's decision from the Daily Pennsylvanian and Under the Button.