Alpha Omicron Pi chapter house loses recognition

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Women’s fraternity Alpha Omicron Pi announced Monday that it will no longer recognize UC Berkeley’s chapter house as of Sept. 3.

As a result of a former contract dispute, the decision will prevent the local Alpha Omicron Pi chapter from hosting events at its current house, although not until this year’s recruitment has finished.

The housing corporation that currently owns the house stated in a letter to leaders of the campus Greek community that the decision was made in order to limit costs to the chapter and that the house’s owners would not be handing over management control to the international corporation as requested.

The fraternity announced its decision in the letter to alumnae, collegiate members and almunae chapter presidents, which explained that the chapter’s local housing corporation Sigma 1916 Inc. — which currently manages the location — would no longer be allowed to associate itself with the fraternity.

The fraternity’s decision came as a result of a decision by the local corporation’s board not to follow new governing documents established by the international corporation in June 2005, which would have transferred property management responsibilities to the international corporation. According to the fraternity’s press release, the Berkeley chapter is the only one of 135 chapters not to comply with the new governing documents.

According to International President Gayle Fitzpatrick, the decision came after extensive negotiations with the housing corporation, including personal meetings and settlement discussions, in which the local corporation was explicitly warned of the possibility of losing its association with the fraternity. The fraternity’s leadership, however, is still open to resuming its relationship with the corporation.

“I would hope that we could find a way to move forward with our relationship, considering our long history of working together,” Fitzpatrick said.

Although the house owned by Sigma 1916 Inc. would no longer be officially affiliated with the women’s fraternity, the local chapter would continue to receive support and would be allowed to continue all normal events, including next year’s recruitment, in a new location, Fitzpatrick said. According to her, the fraternity will seek a new meeting space for chapter events, potentially on campus.

In a letter released by Sigma 1916 Inc., the decision not to relinquish management control was made in order to allow the flexibility necessary to survive the “cyclical ebb and flow of interest in Greek membership over the years.” The letter also explained that a transfer of control would lead to the property being reassessed under Proposition 13, increasing costs to the house.

The president of Sigma 1916 Inc., Sandy Jaeger, stated in the letter that she would still like to reach some kind of resolution with Alpha Omicron Pi and that there may be an opportunity for the women’s fraternity to lease the property and manage the day-to-day operations.

“Although we will not be able to hold AOII meetings at the house after September 3 for some period of time, the house will remain a Sigma collegiate and Sigma alumnae gathering place,” Jaeger said in the letter. “Our desire is that 2311 Prospect remains their home and a positive part of their lives.”

Contact Trevor Greenan at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @trevor_greenan.