Earlier this month, a new sorority, Delta Sigma, was created on campus, taking the place of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter of UC Berkeley after Alpha Omicron Pi nationals pulled the charter for the existing chapter last fall.
The change is the result of a decadelong dispute that resulted from Alpha Omicron Pi nationals wanting to transition all existing chapter houses to Alpha Omicron Pi properties. The chapter house, located on 2311 Prospect St., is locally managed by a corporation board consisting of Alpha Omicron Pi alumni. The corporation board, who also owned the house, was against the transition.
“I think there are local sororities on a few campuses around the nation — to my knowledge (our chapter getting pulled without a safety risk or infractions) is very unique,” former president of Delta Sigma and graduating senior Annie Sompayrac said.
According to Sompayrac, the chapter wanted Alpha Omicron Pi to agree to certain conditions, such as the need for a vote of active members before selling the house and the maintenance of existing benefits for the staff of the house. She added that the biggest problem with the transition was that the property tax would be reevaluated under Proposition 13, which would result in a much higher cost of living.
The UC Berkeley chapter successfully appealed the pulling of the charter to an appeals panel. The executive board of the national Alpha Omicron Pi organization, however, went against the recommendation of the appeals panel and upheld their original decision to take away recognition for the UC Berkeley chapter.
“Chapter members were kept in the dark (by internationals), and we weren’t given the choice of whether we want to transition over,” said current Delta Sigma president Elizabeth Twichell.
To gain recognition as Delta Sigma, the former members of Alpha Omicron Pi had to first gain recognition from the state of California and then get the approval of the UC Berkeley Panhellenic Council.
According to Sompayrac the chapter paid more in Alpha Omicron Pi dues.
“There’s pros and cons to both sides — we don’t pay to international chapters, but we also don’t get the benefits either,” said Sompayrac.
The members of the sorority began working on the new bylaws in late October of last year, and Twichell said every member played a role in aiding the change, because it was a complicated process. Many members stepped up to take leadership roles, and the members of Delta Sigma created their own core values — courage, wisdom and love, according to Twichell.
On why they chose the name Delta Sigma, Twichell said, “We were the Sigma chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, and Delta means changed, so we are the ‘changing Sigma.’ ”
Miranda Hernandez, an outgoing ASUC Senator and member of the Panhellenic Council, said she thought the actions of the Alpha Omicron Pi nationals went against the values of sisterhood, but that she is excited to see the development of the Delta Sigma chapter.
Members of the Alpha Omicron Pi national executive board could not be reached as of press time.