Chi Omega says its reform goals are hindered by national council


Daily file photo by Isabelle Sarraf

The Chi Omega house. Northwestern’s Xi chapter of Chi Omega released a letter on Sept. 1 calling for change by Sept. 22, but the day came and went without significant response form its Supreme Governing Council.

Emma Yarger, Reporter

Northwestern’s Xi chapter of Chi Omega called for its Supreme Governing Council to enact change by Sept. 22. Though that day came and went, Weinberg junior and chapter vice president Sheridan Bernard said she still hasn’t seen their demands come to fruition.

The chapter outlined equity-focused action steps they wanted the council to take in their Sept. 1 open letter. But after encountering evasive responses from national president Laura Miller and other chapter leaders, Bernard said they have changed tactics.
“Nationals is trying to break us up, almost, rather than acknowledging us as the committee who has come up with a list of very reasonable changes,” Bernard said.

Weinberg senior Gabby Plotkin said they are now focused on making “lasting change” in the organization. In addition to the letter, chapter members are running the Instagram account “@chio_needs_change” and trying to reach leading members of Chi Omega chapters across the country.

Bernard said they need more time to grow their movement before disaffiliating.

She said the chapter is still seriously considering mass disaffiliation for the future, with many of the members remaining in the chapter. Over the summer and fall, 12 members disaffiliated from the chapter, according to the chapter’s records.

Plotkin, who acts as the chapter’s assistant recruitment chair, said she believes in the Abolish Greek Life movement and said it’s been difficult to move in a positive direction because of adviser involvement.

Although abolition is the goal for some, the Supreme Governing Council told members in an email that the chapter has “a proud and long history at Northwestern” and that “it is (the council’s) intention to see the Xi chapter remain on campus.”

In addition to the chapter’s advisers, many alumni have expressed their disapproval of the student’s letter and proposed reforms, recent Chi Omega alumna Grace Piotrowski (SESP ‘19) said.

“On our Facebook group, when people were posting really harsh comments about what (current members) are trying to do, (students) were responding in very thoughtful ways,” Piotrowski said. “I’m really just impressed at what they’re doing. And I hope that they’re able to succeed and get this to a larger campus movement and a larger national movement.”

Bernard said her ideal result of this movement would be the dissolution of Greek life at Northwestern. She said since that is a difficult task to complete, she is focusing on smaller goals.

She said she wants all tenets of their letter, including better policies on recruitment, financial aid, inclusion and education to be written into their book of rules. She added that she wants to continue to ensure these practices are followed in an equitable manner and adjusted if need be in order to reduce harm.

“I hope that other chapters, other sororities and fraternities will also do the work of engaging with their nationals and holding them accountable,” Bernard said.

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